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How to Fix Flat Feet: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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How to Fix Flat Feet Effectively And For Good! How to Fix Flat Feet: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment www.runnerclick.com

Flat feet are also known as having fallen arches. Often, people with flat feet experience pain while running or walking, which leads to the question: how to fix flat feet?

Before we dive into that, let’s answer some other questions about flat feet. 

How Do You Know You Have Flat Feet?

The easiest way to determine if you have flat feet is to get the bottom of your feet damp (not soaking) and then step onto a dry, flat surface like a patch of sidewalk.

A person with proper arches will have negative space in the footprint where their arches don’t contact the surface. If you see a full imprint of your entire foot, you may have flat feet.

how do you know you have flat feet

Some people have flat feet with no pain or problems, while others have symptoms.

In addition to your feet being flat on the ground when standing, some signs of flat feet are:

  • Foot pain, especially around the arches and heels
  • Swelling on the inside of the ankles
  • Pain in the calf muscles, hip, knee, back pain, or lower leg areas from the additional strain
  • Shoes fit improperly

Best Running Shoes for flat feet

5 Common Causes of Flat Feet

Although a flat foot is normal in infants and toddlers who have yet to develop an arch, most people develop arches as they age. Even if you develop normal arches, they can fall over time.

So what causes flat feet?

What happens is that years of wear and tear on your foot can cause the tendons at the bottom of your foot to stretch, which leads to a fallen arch. 

There are also risk factors that can lead to a higher likelihood of developing flat feet.

These include:

  1. obesity
  2. diabetes
  3. rheumatoid arthritis
  4. aging
  5. an injury to your foot and/or ankle

6 Exercises to Fix Flat Feet

It is important to recognize that some people have structural flat feet, also known as pes planus. This means your foot lacks the arch underneath it.

Please note: if you have an arch while sitting or lying down but then it disappears when you are standing, your flat feet are not structural.

Structural flat feet cannot be “fixed” by exercise or physical therapy, but you can help to alleviate the discomfort. 

So how to correct flat feet? Can it be done?

Most running coaches have some great foot exercises in their arsenal of rebuilding arches in flat feet. 

1. Towel Curls: Sit in a chair with your knees bent 90 degrees. Place a towel on the floor in front of you completely laid out flat (the floor should be a hard surface so the towel can easily move).

Grasp the top of the towel (the portion furthest away from the chair) with your toes and pull it toward the back part of the towel (closest to the chair). When you have finished moving the towel, lay it flat and repeat. Do this 10 times. 

2. Heel Stretches: Stand with right leg out front, knee gently bent, foot facing forward. The left leg should be behind you, the foot also facing forward. Lean forward into the stretch to put tension on the back calf and Achilles tendon.

Gently lift the back foot onto your toes of the left foot, then place the heel down again and go back into the stretch. 

3. Tennis or Golf Ball Rolls: Sit on a chair, knees bent at 90 degrees. Place a ball on the ground and roll it back and forth on the floor with your foot, focusing on the arch area. Keep your back straight when you do this. 

4. Calf Raises: Stand on a step or stair of some kind, using a wall or rail for balance if needed. With your toes on the step and heels hanging over, slowly raise your calves, then down into calf raises. You should raise the calf up and into a negative position, hanging below the step. 

5. Arch Raises: This one is similar to the one above it, with an exception. Start with your left foot one step higher and keep it flat for balance. Put your toes of the right foot one step lower.

When you lean back onto the right foot, your heel should move down into a deep stretch. Keep the left foot consistent for stability and hang on to the rail. Repeat 10x then switch feet. 

6. Toe Raises: Toe raises are probably one of the easiest and most neglected stretches. Stand with your feet flat, then raise your toes while keeping the rest of your foot flat on the ground. Vary this by first lifting all 5 toes.

Then, hold your big toe flat down and lift the other 4 toes. Next, hold the other 4 toes down, and lift just the big toe. Do each of the three variations 7-8 times. 

Can Hereditary Flat Feet be Corrected?

First off, many people have flat feet and don’t have any problems. If your flat feet are structural (not collapsed arches over time), you may not have any pain or problems at all. 

If your structural flat feet cause problems, a podiatrist may help you by giving you arch support in the form of prescription orthotic or over-the-counter inserts/insoles.

There are also surgical means of repairing flat feet, but this option is for very severe cases involving people in a lot of pain.

Can Obesity Cause Flat Feet?

Obesity can cause flat feet, as your weight can be putting too much pressure on the arch of the foot. Wearing a quality shoe with adequate support is a good way to combat that.

Keeping your body at a healthy weight is a way to help alleviate many health concerns, including this one. 

Is Walking Barefoot Good for Flat Feet?

Although there is growing evidence in minimalist running that says going barefoot is good for people with flat feet and other types of foot issues, the medical community disagrees.

Mayo Clinic holds firm to their stance that those with feet flat enough to cause pain should wear a shoe with arch support as much as they can. This can mean a structurally supportive shoe and/or an orthotic. 

Podiatrists concur with this thought and encourage people to avoid wearing shoes that are either completely flat, like a flip flop, or with a high heel.

Both of these are considered things that can cause foot problems and pain. 

Can You Run With Flat Feet?

You can run with just about any type of foot. That is why there are hundreds of types of shoes out there. The shoe industry has worked hard to make shoes that meet any need.

Don’t assume that you need a special shoe just because someone told you they exist. If you are happily running in a certain shoe and logging miles without any pain, don’t mess with a good thing. 

On the other hand, if you have flat arches and overpronation that cause pain or discomfort, you may want to find running shoes to counteract that. For those with mild to moderate overpronation, there are stability shoes. There are also motion control shoes for people with severe overpronation. 

Determining what shoes are good for flat feet depends on what you are personally experiencing.

Side note: a quality pair of socks with good arch support can also set the stage for a comfortable run. Don’t overlook the importance of that.

My favorites are Swiftwick. They keep my feet happy!

8 Best Shoes for Flat Feet

In picking some of the best shoes for flat feet, we would be remiss if we did not include stability and motion control.

Here are some top pics:

Don’t Let Flat Feet Stop You!

Even though flat feet can cause problems for some runners, the point is that you can keep doing the things that you love.

Whether you choose to do exercises to try to fix the problem, switch up your shoes to keep your feet happier, or see a doc for advice on inserts or orthotics, there are great options out there.

The point is, don’t let having flat feet stop you from being your awesome and epic self. 

Run happy, friends!

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