How do I know if I have flat feet?
Known in the medical world as ‘Pes planus’, flat feet is a foot condition that describes feet with a low arch. While there are varying degrees of description for flat feet, a true ‘flat foot’ is either congenital (present from birth) or is developed from an injury to a tendon that helps support the arch. Damage to this tendon can create a higher degree of pronation (the natural movement of the foot when walking), where the foot rolls inwards more than is optimal.
Pronation of the foot is an important aspect of the gait cycle (the range of movements made when walking) and functions much like a natural shock absorber. Various degrees of pronation can lead to the foot spreading out on stance (when you’re standing) and in gait (when you’re walking) making the arch appear lower than it is.
Why can flat feet be problematic and what can I do about it?
While there’s nothing inherently problematic with having a lower arch, unwelcome symptoms can occur if the foot is placed in a strained lower-arch position. These symptoms include arch pain, back pain, associated foot conditions (such as bunions and overuse injuries), corns and callouses and an altered gait (a change to the way you walk).
You may also notice excessive wear in your shoes, which is sometimes noticeable in either one particular area of the sole or in the upper of the shoe. This is a sure-fire sign that your body weight is not being evenly distributed across your foot. So, while there’s no such thing as specific shoes for flat feet, there are things you can (and should) look out for to make sure your shoes are catering to your foot type.
Exercising not only contributes to keeping your feet supple, but it can also help to strengthen your feet, preventing future discomfort or injury. Before starting up a new exercise routine, however, it’s important to speak to a medical professional and ensure that you wear supportive footwear.