Flat Feet

The arch plays an important role in lower limb biomechanics; it helps propel the body over the foot during walking whilst also assisting in shock absorption. The muscles and ligaments supporting the arch are stretched in a pes planus foot. This stops the function of the ‘windlass mechanism’, which is responsible for assisting the body to propel forward.

Flat feet in children

It is common for young infants and toddlers to have a flat foot appearance. This is because the arch is not fully developed. During the ages of 4 and 6 the arch will form its shape. If your child is having difficulty walking and experiencing pain, it is important to get a podiatrist to assess them. For example, they may be walking oddly or limping during walking. They may get tired and want to be picked up. The child may also be rubbing their knees, legs, ankles or feet in a sign of pain or discomfort.

Flat feet in adults

Flat feet can be ‘acquired’ as an adult. This is generally due to injury, illness and increased stresses to the foot or from poor biomechanics. It is important to know the foot also changes with age. There are two types of flat feet: rigid and flexible. Other risk factors are pregnancy, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms of painful flat feet are similar to a child – tired feet, aching, muscle cramps and aches, knee, hip and back pain.

Treatment options

If you are not experiencing any pain or discomfort, then treatment may not be necessary. Usually treatment will be tailored to manage painful symptoms through physical therapies such as low level laser therapy and joint mobilisation. Orthotic devices are effective at improving the foot biomechanics. They help to lift the arch which reduces the strain on the supporting muscles and ligaments. Exercise prescription is often required to strengthen the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the foot. A rigid flat foot may require surgery. This is very rare, however your podiatrist will be able to assist in diagnosing this.

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We are committed to solving the problem rather than offering a quick fix. In addition to treatment we’ll provide advice on how you can make small adjustments to reduce your pain, minimise the risk of injury and improve your quality of life.