By Dr. Hitesh Khurana, Physiotherapy,
The arches of foot extend from the base of the toe to the heel. They allow your foot to support the body weight in an erect posture. Each arch is formed by the metatarsal and tarsal bones, supported by tendons and ligaments. The arches of foot are classified as transverse and longitudinal arches. The shape of the arches allows your foot to bear your body weight, absorb shock during locomotion and helps you walk around or move about flexibly.
If you don’t have a normal (arched) curve in either of your feet while you’re standing, then the condition is known as flat foot or fallen arches. Flat foot is normally seen in infants and usually disappear by the age 2 or 3 years, once the tendons and ligaments tighten. Approximately 25% of adults have flat foot. This condition can cause severe pain during strenuous physical activities.
What causes flat foot?
Flat foot is related to bones and tissues in your lower legs and feet. If the tendons and ligaments do not tighten as you age, or if you sustain a sudden/traumatic injury that damages the tendons, then it may cause flat foot. This condition is also associated with disorders like muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy.
What are the symptoms?
If you have fallen arches or flat foot, then you will have difficulty walking long distances or standing for long hours. Pain in the ankle and lower legs is a common sign. Your feet may also feel numb or stiff.
How is this condition treated?
The arches of foot play a vital role in supporting your body weight when you stand and help your feet to rest evenly on the ground. If your feet are structured in a different manner, then it becomes hard to maintain flexibility and even participate in routine activities of daily life. The most preferred choice of treatment for fallen arches is physiotherapy.
A few simple yet effective exercises may help ease the pain associated with flat foot. Stretching the calves and the rest of your legs can help reduce pain. Stand on anti-fatigue mats. They reduce the risk of foot pain when you stand in the same posture for several minutes. Moving your ankle in small circular motion can also relieve the pain.
Wear shoes that are specially designed to support your foot arches. Wearing flip flops, high heels and unsupportive shoes will only escalate the pain. Also, try not to stand bare foot on rough hard surfaces.
You must consult a doctor if the pain persists for long. Overlooking the symptoms will only result in chronic pain and further complications.