Flat foot is a condition in which the arch of the foot disappears when a child stands or when the entire sole of the child’s foot touches the ground. It may either occur in one foot or both feet. At first, all babies’ feet look flat because an arch hasn’t formed yet. Arches should form by the time a child is 2 or 3 years of age.
However, you may be born with flat feet or develop them over time. Adults may not realize they have flat feet for many years. They may not ever notice if they don’t have symptoms related to flat feet.
What are the types of flat foot?
There are two types of flatfoot:
Flexible flat foot
The most common form of flat foot and affects both feet. It’s often a normal part of development. Flexible flatfoot usually doesn’t cause pain or disability. Also, it does not require any treatment.
Rigid flat foot
This is a rare type of flat foot. It affects both feet in roughly half of all cases. It often develops in children who have problems with the bones in their feet. Children who have rigid flatfoot might experience more severe symptoms, such as pain or cramping.
What causes flat foot?
Flat foot may be an inherited condition. It may also be caused a condition such as diabetic foot. Also, poor footwear can play a major part in developing flat feet. In addition, the wear and tear due to aging. Rarely, flat feet can be caused by foot bones that are joined together.
Adult onset flatfoot can also be caused by a bone fracture or dislocation, a torn or stretched tendon, or arthritis. Rigid flatfoot can develop among adults 40 years of age and older who are sedentary and overweight. At times, an adult can recall an injury, but more often the flatfoot is a gradual development.
What are the symptoms?
In fact, most children who have flatfoot experience no symptoms. When children who have flatfoot do experience symptoms, some of the most common examples include:
- Changes in walking patterns (also known as gait).
- Heels that tilt outward.
- Cramping in the feet or legs.
- Pain or tenderness in the foot, ankle or lower leg when walking or during activity.
- Pain along the shin bone (shin splint)
- General aching or fatigue in the foot or leg
- Low back, hip or knee pain
Home care and treatment
Treatment in adults generally consists:
- Purchase better-fitting and spacious shoes.
- Padding for the heel
- Use shoe inserts, such as arch supports. These can be obtained over-the-counter. You may also require custom-made inserts with a prescription from your doctor.
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain.
- Rest the foot and apply ice to the painful area.
- Follow a physical therapy regimen prescribed by your doctor.
- Undergo surgery if conservative treatments fail.
For children, treatment using corrective shoes or inserts is rarely needed. Because, the arch usually develops normally by age 5.
What are the exercises for flat foot
Stretching tight calf muscles.
- Stand about 30 cm (1 ft) from a wall. Place the palms of both hands against the wall at chest level.
- Step back with one foot, keeping that leg straight at the knee, and both feet flat on the floor. Your feet should point directly at the wall or slightly in toward the centre of your body. Keep the knee of the leg nearest the wall centered over the ankle.
- Bend your other (front) leg at the knee, and press the wall with both hands until you feel a gentle stretch on your back leg (calf muscle).
- Hold for a count of 10 (increasing the count to 30 or longer as you continue over several weeks). Switch legs and repeat. Do this 2 to 4 times a day.
Foot-strengthening exercises done with a towel and weights.
- Place a towel on the floor, and sit down in a chair in front of it with both feet resting flat on the towel at one end.
- Grip the towel with the toes of one foot (keep your heel on the floor and use your other foot to anchor the towel). Curl your toes to pull the towel toward you.
- Repeat with the other foot. To increase strength, later use1.5 kg (3 lb) to2.5 kg (5 lb) weights (such as a large can of fruit or vegetables) on the other end of the towel.
Calf-stretching exercises done with a towel.
- Sit down on the floor or a mat with your feet stretched out in front of you.
- Roll up a towel lengthwise and then loop it over one foot (around the ball of your foot).
- Take one end of the towel in either hand and gently pull the towel towards your body to stretch the front of your foot. Repeat with the other foot.
Can flat feet be prevented or avoided?
Adult flat feet can sometimes be prevented through good foot care. Taking care of your feet and avoiding injury are important. You may be at higher risk for developing flat feet if you have diabetes or are pregnant. You are also more likely to develop flat feet if you are overweight.