Flat foot is a condition that affects the arches of one, or both, of your feet causing them to drop and sometimes be completely flat. If left untreated it can lead to a range of other conditions impacting the ankles, knees and hips. Thankfully, in many cases, flat feet can be cured or fixed, depending on the initial cause of the condition, lifestyle factors and general health.
There are two main causes of flat feet, inherited (when you’re born with flat feet or develop it at an early age, and acquired (when it is caused by lifestyle or injury).
The below exercise is designed to strengthen the ankle and can also help to build the muscles around the foot to reduce the pain associated with flat feet.
Is it important to treat flat feet?
Most people with flat feet tend to only have mild symptoms in the early stages. Because of this, the condition is left untreated and can often progress, causing other problems in the body.
If left unaddressed you can end up at higher risk of developing the following problems:
- Hallux Valgus (Bunions)
- Shin Splints
- Arthritis in feet and ankles
- Achilles tendonitis
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Meniscus problems in the knee
When addressing flat feet, using conservative treatment methods to minimise the symptoms and relieve pain is a great start, see our guide Flat foot: treatment and home remedies.
However for those where the condition is more advanced, the pain is moderate-to-severe or there are other issues starting to impact the feet, there is a range of options to address the condition.
Video: The below single-leg balance exercise will help to strengthen the muscles surrounding the foot, helping to combat the symptoms associated with flat foot.
Physiotherapy and stretching for flat foot
Targeted physiotherapy along with regular stretching can be one of the most effective ways to manage flat feet, relieve symptoms and restore the shape of the foot.
Try these stretches you can do at home: 3 exercises for flat feet.
Doing these exercises and working with a Physio often takes a bit of work before the results can be seen. So, it’s important to stick with it and maintain a sustainable exercise routine.
It is also helpful to combine physio or stretches with general lifestyle changes. Losing weight, resting the feet when they’re stressed, wearing supportive shoes and avoiding hard surfaces while running or exercising.
How insoles and shoes help flat feet
For many people with mild flat feet, wearing a slim off-the-shelf insole like the Weightflex 2 will treat your soles, especially in combination with physio and stretching.
For those with more severe issues, custom insoles may be required. The best thing to do is to see a podiatrist and get fit for an insole which will provide targeted support for your specific needs.
The shoes you wear have a profound effect on your feet, by changing your shoes you can significantly improve the issues caused by flat feet while also improving your posture.
Look for a pair of shoes with arch support, a wider sole and comfortable fit that doesn’t pinch. This is just as important with sports shoes as it is with work shoes.
Can flat feet be cured?
For the most part, flat feet can be addressed by treatment and management of the muscles in the sole of the foot. However, sometimes it is the bones themselves that are malformed, or the muscles are damaged to the point that therapy alone isn’t enough.
In cases like this, a doctor may suggest surgery as an option. It’s important to always get a second opinion as surgery brings its own risks, as well as a long recovery period.
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