Flat Feet – Are they worth worrying about?

What is a flat foot?

A flat foot or flat feet are terms used to describe the “posture” or “shape” of a person’s foot while standing or moving.

What causes a flat foot?

The simple answer is; it’s multi-factorial.

The more in depth answer is, it’s usually a combination of factors that contribute to the general shape or posture of a person’s foot. These influencing factors can be from what is happening within the foot (for example: bone shape) and also outside of the foot (for example: a hip injury/ problem).

Are flat feet worth worrying about?

The simple answer is; it depends.

And it depends on a few things… Often, the most important thing your podiatrist will want to know is if you are experiencing any pain within your feet, ankles, legs, knees, hips or back. They will also want to know if you are finding any physical limitations to your performance, for example, balance, speed or strength issues.

That is because pain and performance are both reasons to provide help through treatment.

Simply worrying about the shape or the way a foot ‘looks’ may not be the best reason to provide treatment.

What can be done to treat flat feet?

Historically the podiatry profession has focussed solely on supportive footwear recommendation and orthotic therapy and this has certainly helped many people who experience pain or lack of performance because of flat feet. However, this approach alone does not necessarily promote the independence of the person with the flat foot. That is, the person then becomes reliant on the footwear and the orthotics to move as they want to and live pain free.

In more recent times, podiatrists have also begun providing strength and conditioning programs to improve the performance of the muscles within the feet, ankles, legs and rest of the body. This approach promotes strong feet to influence performance and a change in foot posture as a result.

What is the best way to treat flat feet?

Considering all influencing factors is a good place to start with any treatment program. Once the individual influencing factors are understood, a measured and strategic plan can be formulated to address ALL of the influencing factors to provide a great outcome.

Often, in our clinic, as our Podiatrists are also Strength and Conditioning Coaches, a treatment plan consisting of footwear recommendation, orthotic therapy and a strength and conditioning program will have a dramatic effect on pain in the short term, and in the long term also see the client have flexibility to wear thongs, sandals, or even no shoes at all while still maintaining an arch profile and performing without pain.

Written by:

Daniel Monteleone
Podiatrist, Strength and Conditioning Coach
Proactive Health & Movement


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