(Roxy was checking to see if her master has fallen arches or smelly feet, but thankfully the answer is NO on both counts!)
Fallen arches, also frequently called “flat feet,” are a painful condition which can arise from a wide variety of causes.
Flat feet are sometimes congenital, but other times they are caused by an injury, or are an indirect result of other conditions or disorders. Children are often born with flat feet, but as they grow, their arches usually develop along with many other physical characteristics.
The type of flat feet which children typically have is called “flexible flat feet,” meaning that when the child is standing normally, the feet look flat, but when the child stands on tiptoe, the arches become more apparent.
There are many tendons in the foot, ankle and lower leg which connect the muscles to the bones. The arch on the underside of the foot is formed by the tendons inside the foot pulling upward on the tissue.
A case of fallen arches can occur when the tendons are not creating an appropriate amount of tension on the sole of the foot.
Aside from congenital disorders, there are many other conditions which can be risk factors for flat feet. Obesity can increase the downward pressure on the soles of the feet, increasing the strain on tendons and the likelihood of fallen arches.
Diabetes frequently causes orthopedic complications, and pregnancy can also cause flat feet. Other health problems which can cause fallen arches include broken or dislocated bones, rheumatoid arthritis, nerve problems, damage or inflammation of the posterior tibial tendon, and simple aging.
Having flat feet does not necessarily mean that you will notice any complications or symptoms. There are many people with fallen arches who require no treatment.
However, there are some symptoms which occur with fallen arches, or which can indicate that a person may be suffering from fallen arches. Flat feet frequently cause a person to tire easily while walking, or to become painful or achy when walking for long distances. Back and leg pain, though seemingly unrelated to a foot condition, are also a common indicator of flat feet, and it may become difficult to walk on tiptoe or flex the affected foot.
If you visit the doctor with any of these symptoms, or if he or she has any reason to suspect you may have flat feet, a simple examination can be performed to ascertain whether there is anything abnormal about your feet.
They may check your health history, look at the soles of your shoes, test the strength and elasticity of the muscles and tendons, or perform x-rays or MRIs. If they determine that you do have flat feet, there are a variety of treatments that they may prescribe, including anti-inflammatory pain-relief medications, orthotic devices, braces, or injected medications. Surgery may be necessary for severe pain.
Fortunately, there are also steps that can be taken at home to treat fallen arches or flat feet. The first step is to prevent the condition from occurring or worsening by wearing appropriate footwear with the right amount of arch support.
Improving your lower body stability and strength by exercising your muscles in the butt, legs, and feet will also help in preventing more deterioration and help promote injury prevention.
Some exercises that will help improve fallen arches are calf raises, standing on a single leg and reaching down to touch the floor, and walking lunges. Do them first with good support shoes and as you become more stable, try to do these exercises barefoot to further increase strength and stability. Additionally, it’s always good to seek the advise of a personal trainer or physical therapist to learn more about what you can do to help keep your feet strong.
If you experience any foot pain, you can treat it yourself by resting your feet, applying ice, and elevating them to decrease inflammation.
Try to treat any other risk factors which may be contributing to foot trouble, such as obesity or high blood pressure, and avoid high-impact sports or activities which may worsen your fallen arches. As with any medical condition or injury, if you experience severe pain, or if the pain does not get better within a few days, it’s time to see a doctor.