Flat Feet & Fallen Arches

Fallen arches are commonly referred to as flat feet because the feet appear to have a low inside arch, especially when standing.  These feet may point away from the midline of the body.  Functionally, the arch of the foot is similar in construction to an arched bridge.  The center section (arch bone and soft tissue support system) must be strong enough to hold the weight placed upon it.  If one or both of the ends that are anchored on shore are weak, the middle section is compromised.  If the heel and ankle roll down and inward, the arch will appear flat.  If the front of the foot rolls down and in, the arch will also flatten.

Like the bridge, our heel, ankle and forefoot must be properly grounded in order to support the arch properly.  A Pedorthist will analyze all three sections of the foot to determine how much support is needed and where to incorporate that support.

Some people are born with flat feet.  Others acquire flat feet over time.  Some of the most common causes include:

  • Overuse – prolonged standing or walking.
  • Rapid weight gain.
  • Ligament, muscle and/or tendon weaknesses in the foot.
  • Participation in vigorous sports.
  • Wearing non-supportive footwear.
  • Previous foot injuries.
  • Forefoot or heel mal-alignments.

In addition to the pain felt in the heel and arch, people with fallen arches often complain of soreness in the joints of the foot, ankle, knee and hip.  Muscle strains may occur in the shins, calves, upper leg and back.   A bunion might also be present.

Treatment options may include a custom manufactured orthotic with a cupped heel to help control heel and ankle weaknesses.  The Pedorthist might also apply an extra thickening under the inside edge of the heel or forefoot to prevent the arch from rolling down and in.  The type and thickness of arch support is reflective of the patient’s foot type and flexibility.

As a person ages, the amount of correction you can actually achieve with orthotics may lessen.  Due to conditions like arthritis and muscle tightening, adults have less flexibility in their feet.  (Children, on the other hand, have more flexibility within their joints and are tolerant to corrections).

For adults, it may take several adjustments of the orthotic over one to two years to achieve the optimal results.  During this time, we conduct comprehensive evaluations – including a standing muscle balance test, a foot examination, a range of joint motion tests and observing how the patient walks (gait analysis).  A platform on which the patient stands, enables the Pedorthist to have a specific ground view of the interaction of orthotics to your foot and ankle alignment.  On-site labs permit immediate and accurate adjustments necessary to enhance the custom portion of your orthotics. The follow up adjustments are at no additional cost.

If you or someone you know are experiencing pain from flat feet, visit a BioPed Foot Specialist to learn more by clicking below.