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Common Conditions

Flat Feet

25/09/2020

Flat Feet are also known as Pes Planus or fallen or dropped arches. People with flat feet have a very low arch or no arch, meaning that one or both of their feet may be flat on the ground.

A human foot has 33 joints which hold 26 different bones together. It also has over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. The arches provide a spring to the step and help to distribute body weight across the feet and legs. The arches shape is designed in a similar manner to a spring which bears the weight of the body and absorbs shock that is produced with locomotion. The structure of the arches determines how a person walks. The arches need to be both sturdy and flexible to adapt to stress and a variety of surfaces. When people have flat feet, their feet may roll to the inner side when they are standing and walking. This is known as overpronation and it may also cause the feet to point outward.

The causes of fallen arches include weak arches (arch is visible when a person sits but foot flattens onto ground when they stand), foot or ankle injury, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or damage, dysfunction or rupture of posterior tibial tendon. Arches of the foot are important as during standing, the weight of the body is distributed throughout the bones in the foot by the arches and it acts as shock absorbers. The medial longitudinal arch also has an important role in shock absorption and propulsion during walking, running and jumping.

Physical therapy can help treat flat feet and fallen arches. A physical therapist will review the individual issues to determine the bigger picture. Apart from manual therapy, ice therapy to reduce inflammation and daily stretching exercises for feet and legs will be incorporated in the treatment. Recommendations such as proper footwear with substantial arch support and use of insoles to relieve foot pressure may be necessary depending on the condition. Functional training to correct walking patterns will also be taught. If in doubt, seek professional advice.