Pes planus (flat feet) are very common. As a matter of fact everybody's feet are flat when they are born. As we grow and mature, our feet gradually develop arches, but for some people this doesn‘t happen. Some have flat feet all their lives and this may or may not be a problem. In this article, we explain the phenomenon of flat feet and give good advice to help you take care of and correct flat footedness. Read on to learn more.
Not All Flat Feet Are the Same
If you grow up with flat feet, you may have one of two types:
Why Do Some People Have Flat Feet?
You may have flat feet because someone in your family tree has flat feet. When this is the case, your flat footedness may not cause any problems. Very often, if you have had flat feet since birth it is simply an inherited trait and one that you may live with happily.
You may also get flat feet due to injury. This can be a traumatic acute injury, or one that develops over time and causes your arches to fall. When the tendon supporting your arches becomes worn, it can lead to fallen arches. If you have an irregular gait or your shoes fit poorly, stress related fallen arches may be the result.
Your arches may become over-stressed and fall because you stand or exercise too much and/or because you are overweight. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis you may be very prone to developing flat feet.
If you develop an inflexible flatfoot, it may be because of a condition known as tarsal coalition. When this happens, the small bones within your foot have become fused. It may be necessary for your doctor to take an x-ray to make sure that this is the case.
Are There Exercises That Will Help Flat Feet at Home?
There are quite a few exercises that you can do on your own that will benefit your overall foot health and may help with your flat feet. As a caveat, you should know that if your feet are quite painful you need to see your doctor.
If you're simply experiencing every day aches and pains that are not particularly serious, there are many things you can do to relieve minor pain and help strengthen your feet. These may also help to improve and strengthen your arches.
Here are a few ideas you can try to help ease pain in your feet and make your arches stronger.
- 1Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Tylenol, ibuprofen or aspirin to relieve minor aches and pains.
- 2 Whenever possible, elevate your feet to give them a rest and help improve your blood circulation.
- 3Give your feet a nice soak in a tub of warm water or invest in a home foot spa for a treat at the end of a long day.
- 4If your arches ache, apply an ice pack to help reduce inflammation and soothe pain and swelling.
- 5Don't skimp on footwear. Buy well-made, properly fitted shoes that give your feet comfortable support.
- 6Experiment with over-the-counter (OTC) shoe inserts and arch supports to get just the right amount of support for your flat feet.
- 7Watch your weight! Remember that you only have one pair of feet and they must carry your weight around all your life. Give them a break by lightening their load.
- 8Stay in good health. Eat a balanced diet that is low in simple starches, sugars, fats and bad cholesterol. Exercise regularly to stay in good shape. Doing so will help you avoid conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis which, as we have said, may cause and exacerbate problems with flat feet.
Exercise Your Feet!
Whether you have flat feet or not, you probably neglect them and don't give them enough exercise. This is common!
Luckily exercising your feet is very easy and something that you can do while you're reading, watching television or otherwise relaxing. Here are a few good ideas that you can use to help strengthen your feet and avoid developing flat feet if you don't already have them.
Set up a foot toy box by your favorite chair! Keep these simple things close at hand to exercise your feet while you're relaxing. You'll need:
These items do not have to be exact. For example, instead of a foam roller, you could use a plastic soft drink bottle filled with water. Roll this under your foot for a gentle massage. If you're having problems with pain in the soles of your foot and in your arches, you can freeze the bottle and roll your foot over it. This will help to relieve pain.
You can also roll the tennis ball or the bumpy ball under your foot as a good massaging and stretching exercise.
Tip: There are therapeutic bumpy balls that are quite expensive available from doctors, physical therapists and in drugstores. A very inexpensive alternative is a bumpy dog toy or bumpy toy ball. Look at dollar stores, pet shops and toy stores for bumpy dog toys and/or balls that will work just fine for rolling under your foot.
You can use your hand towel to exercise your toes. Just spread it out on the floor in front of you and then gradually pull it towards you into a pile using only your toes. Hold the rest of your foot still. When you have the towel scrunched up in a pile in front of you, try picking it up with your toes. Use your toes and feet to smooth it out on the floor again.
Pour out a half a cup of pebbles, marbles or similar items on the floor in front of you and then pick them up with your toes and put them back in the cup. This will strengthen your toes and help them to stay flexible as well as strengthening your arches. One of the complications of flat footedness is the development of bunions. Exercising your toes also helps prevent bunions.
Spread Your Toes!
When you go to bed at night give your feet a good massage with lotion and pay special attention to the arches and to the toes. Put your fingers between your toes and spread them and hold them that way for a few moments. This can really help to stretch the soles of your feet and keep your arches flexible.
Incorporate Foot Exercise Into Your Day
When you are standing in line or otherwise on your feet with nothing to do, try a few heel raises. Just raise yourself up onto the balls of your feet, hold for a count of ten and then slowly lower yourself again. Do ten repetitions whenever you think of it throughout the day. This helps stretch and strengthen your arches.
Whenever you need to walk upstairs, if you have the time, take a couple of minutes to do some stair raises. Be sure to hold onto the stair railing so you don't fall over backwards!
Just put the balls of your feet at the edge of a step and let your heels sink down an inch or two. Rise up slowly until you are standing on tip toes on the edge of the step.
Lower yourself gradually until your heels are an inch or so below the step and then repeat. Do this 5 to 10 times a couple of times a day whenever you have the chance. This simple exercise is very beneficial to your arches, your ankles and your calves.
Seek Help For Flat Feet When You Need It
Pay close attention to your feet daily and provide them with proper footwear, good exercise, adequate rest and a little bit of pampering. If this does not help any pain you may be experiencing because of your flat feet, make an appointment and see your doctor.
Don't delay because foot pain and injury can eventually lead to very serious musculoskeletal problems. Aside from that, having painful flat feet can ruin your day.