What is it?
“Flat feet” is a condition in which the feet are “rolling in” when a person is standing. This gives the appearance that there is a loss of the arch of the foot. This however is a misnomer. Most feet when studied in the sitting position have an arch. Only during weight bearing do they collapse, hence these feet are said to be compensating for a particular condition and are displaying a movement called PRONATION – they are not really flat at all.
What causes it?
There are many causes of abnormal pronation, the most common being:
- Hereditary bony or soft tissue conditions within the foot that disrupt normal walking patterns. This causes the foot to “unlock” allowing the arch to fall closer to the ground.
- Abnormal muscle length
- Abnormal leg rotations
- Poor pelvic alignment causing leg length difference
- Spinal conditions (e.g. Scoliosis)
- Muscle spasticity (e.g. Cerebral Palsy)
The result of pronation can vary from patient to patient but it should be noted that this abnormal force on the body is a major contributor of a myriad of bony and soft tissue problems; often leading to pain!
Symptoms can present in the:
- Feet (e.g. bunions, hammer toes)
- Heels (e.g. plantar fasciitis, heel spurs)
- Shins (e.g. shin splints)
- Thighs (e.g. Iliotibial band syndrome)
- Upper and lower back
- Neck and head
How is it treated?
Your Podiatrist will carry out a detailed assessment of your feet, legs, knees and hips to identify the cause. An analysis of your walking pattern is performed to asses the affect on your gait. Your Podiatrist will then discuss with you’re your treatment options which will most likely include a pair of orthotics. A computerised scan is taken of your feet and a detailed prescription is drawn up for you by which a pair of orthotics can be made. A prescription orthotic device is then produced which fits inside your footwear.
Obviously difference conditions will require a specific therapy. This may involve exercises, manipulation, massage, footwear advice or shockwave therapy. All of which will be discussed with your Podiatrist.