Flat Feet And Fallen Arches
Did you know that many people in Ireland live with foot pain on a daily basis? Some people do not realise that their footwear and the way they take care of their feet can lead to foot problems that have an impact on their whole body and their ability to move around and exercise.
Here at Foot Solutions, we see customers with many different types of foot pain, and we offer recommendations based on each individual’s unique experience and lifestyle. Whether you are worried about flat feet, bunions or Athlete’s Foot, you can visit us for a full appraisal of the health of your feet and discover the very best solution for you.
What Are Flat Feet?
Some people are born with flat feet, and others may develop flat feet later in life. Flat feet can cause pain in the arches and the heels, similar to plantar fasciitis, as well as pain in the joints of the ankles or the legs. This can be debilitating and it is important to explore the options to manage the condition to prevent long term pain and difficulties with mobility.
Fallen arches is the term used to describe the collapse of the medial arches, and this is often a result of too much pressure on the feet. This can occur due to rapid weight gain, pregnancy, injuries, loose ligaments or misalignment of the foot. The condition makes the feet appear to sit flat on the floor, with no lift in the arch, and may cause the feet to point away from the body.
What Is The Problem With Fallen Arches?
Fallen arches can cause a great deal of change within the muscles, ligaments and tendons of the feet, as these shift and come under greater pressure without the arch to provide the natural support within the foot. This can lead to many other, related problems, including:
- Pain in the medial arch and/or heel. The toes are connected to the heel by the long Plantar Fascia, which runs through the medial arch. Inflammation or strain here can be exceptionally painful, and will usually require a long period of rest to recover.
- Joint pain in the foot or ankle. There are 33 joints in the human foot, and more than a hundred muscles, tendons and ligaments connecting them. When the arches fall, these muscles, tendons and ligaments come under great pressure, being stretched and strained in ways that they are not used to. This can lead to pain in the joints of the foot and ankle, and this can force a more sedentary lifestyle that puts your health at risk.
- Pain in The Achilles tendon. If the arches of the feet drop, the surrounding tendons and ligaments will be pulled out of their correct alignment, and this can cause problems throughout the feet and legs. Pain in the Achilles tendon can be very challenging to live with, and supporting the arch can make a great difference here.
- Pain in the knees, shins or calf muscles. The muscles, ligaments and tendons in the lower legs are designed to work with the muscles of the feet to support the body, but when the arches drop and the muscles become misaligned, this can be felt throughout the shins and calf muscles and up into the knees. It may sound unlikely, but you will be surprised at how effectively a custom arch support in your shoes can relieve a persistent pain in your legs and knees.
If you are experiencing any of the above, it’s time to make an appointment to visit us at your local branch of Foot Solutions. We will carry out a full assessment of your feet and talk with you about your lifestyle, before making recommendations to help you enjoy your life to the full once more.
How To Treat Fallen Arches:
Fallen arches cannot be restored, but customised footwear and arch support can help to resolve the problems caused by the condition and ensure that your feet are comfortable and well protected. Here’s how we can help:
- Specialised footwear. The shoes that you wear can make a big difference to the comfort of your feet, and shoes that are not supportive can lead to many foot problems. If your arches have fallen, it is very important to find shoes that can offer a good level of support and have a wide, stable sole that gives more stability than other types of footwear. Specialist pedorthists at your local Foot Solutions store will help you to find the very best options for your feet, and this may include options for training shoes, walking shoes, sandals and boots.
- Custom arch supports. Custom arch supports are designed to sit inside the shoe or slipper and ensure that the foot is supported in a natural and healthy position. Here at Foot Solutions, our custom arch supports are made in our laboratory from a topographical map of your feet, taken by our experienced pedorthists. These inserts will be made to fit your feet exactly, and you will be amazed at the difference they can make to pain in your feet and your whole lower body. We are delighted to hear from our customers, and many tell us that their custom inserts have changed their lives and allowed them to get back to leading a full and active lifestyle. A good custom arch support will include:
- A heel cup. A cupped heel is a great way to prevent your feet rolling down and inwards, and is an excellent way to control stability of the foot in general.
- Custom wedging. If your arches have fallen, you will be very susceptible to misalignment of the muscles, tendons and ligaments. This can lead to several different problems, and can be prevented by the use of wedging under certain areas of the ball or heel of the foot to correct this.
- Individual variations. An arch support that is bought ‘off the shelf’ is likely to have a positive effect on your foot pain initially, but cannot hope to compete with a customised arch support that is designed especially for you. The flexibility of your arch support will be designed to suit your foot type, and this will depend upon the health of your feet and your lifestyle.
How To Prevent Fallen Arches
If you are experiencing arch or foot pain but your arches have not fallen, you may be able to prevent the condition by using specific exercises to strengthen the muscles that support the arch. This could help to protect against many foot conditions and keep your feet in great shape for longer.
You can try doing regular exercises to help to strengthen your arches, and we recommend the following:
• Penny stretch. Stand with your bare feet resting on a flat surface, and spread your toes out. Place a pencil under the middle of the arch of one foot, and a penny underneath the ball of the same foot, then begin by flexing your arch muscle. This is very helpful in identifying the muscles of the arch, as you will feel the muscles in the ball of the foot pressing onto the penny, but the muscles of the arch should not push on the pencil. When you have built up a little strength, you should be able to slide a piece of paper under your toes and out again while you are doing the exercise. Keep your toes relaxed throughout, and you will soon learn to keep your foot from rolling.
• Full body twist. Set up as for the penny stretch, using the penny and pencil under one foot again, but stand 2-4 inches away from a wall or door. Lift the other foot, so that all your weight is on the foot with the penny and pencil under-neath. Raise one arm and reach across your body to touch the wall or door on your opposite side without moving your back. Concentrate on keeping your foot straight and feel the muscles connecting with the penny without touching the pencil. It can be difficult to maintain stability in the foot while your body is moving, but it will help to build strength in the arches as you practise this. When you are stable in this position, raise your other arm and stretch it to your other side, once again focusing on stability in the foot that is supporting you.
You may also find that foot massage can help to condition and strengthen your arches, loosening the muscles of the feet and increasing flexibility. Tight muscles throughout the feet and legs can lead to many problems and painful foot conditions, and you can use a tennis ball or foam roller under your foot and up and down your calves to reduce stiffness and improve circulation. This is an easy way to benefit your feet and your body, and an excellent way to relax in the evenings, too.
Find Comfortable Shoes in Ireland
Here at Foot Solutions, our experienced pedorthists are on hand to help you to find the best options for your feet. We will take the time to carry out a ten point assessment of your feet and your lifestyle, and then make recommendations that will usually involve comfortable, well-fitted shoes, with comfort socks and/or custom arch supports.
Visit us at Foot Solutions for a professional fitting, or book an appointment online now and find the very best solution for your feet.