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The arch of the foot tends to develop early in a child’s development and it’s supposed to remain that way for the rest of their lives. It’s very important for shock absorption and to ensure that we can maintain our balance on any terrain.
A variety of different factors can result in fallen arches, or ‘flat feet’ as they are also called, in which that structure collapses. This can be painful and uncomfortable and can of course lead to inhibited mobility.
There are a number of ways that this can happen. Broken bones or torn tendons can cause your arch to fall, certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can cause it, it’s common in obese people and for some, it’s an unfortunate genetic abnormality.
There are thousands of people dealing with this problem around the world and there are actually quite a few potential solutions you could try if you are one of them. Let’s take a look at seven ways you could deal with flat feet:
Orthotics, also known as shoe inserts, are a device made from either plastic or carbon fiber that you can put inside your shoes as an extra form of support. This is a solution that is not exclusively used to treat flat feet but can definitely be effective for that.
People who are suffering from back pain, leg pain, or general foot pain will often be recommended orthotics as a non-toxic, non-surgical treatment option and there are multiple types.
You can get them over the counter, but your best choice is to go for a custom set. This will help to cater the inserts to your specific situation. Wearing them as often as possible will help to restructure your arch.
The calf muscle is often one of the primary factors contributing to flat feet. Tightness in this muscle can lead to force and pressure being transferred to the feet and your arches eventually start to fail.
Calf stretching can help to loosen that muscle up which can then in turn help to rebuild your arches. These stretches should be relatively simple. The goal is to get the calf muscle into a lengthened position and hold it for a period of several seconds, then repeat numerous times.
It’s important to remember that to truly stretch your calf, you need to keep your heel on the ground at all times. If you have completely flat feet, this may be ineffective and you might have to look for other solutions, but it may help those whose arches are starting to fall.
In some cases, the problem may be with the muscles in the feet as opposed to any leg muscles, so it would also be worth doing some foot exercises to help strengthen them enough to keep the arches high.
A lot of people don’t really think much about their feet when they’re doing strength training and so the kind of exercises you need to do aren’t really that well-known, but there are a few you can try.
Towel curling can be a good one. This involves sitting with your back straight and placing a towel under your foot. With your heel planted on the floor, scrunch up the towel with your foot and then hold for a couple of seconds. Do up to 5 sets of about 10 repetitions.
You could also do some very simple arch raises. For these, you just need to stand up straight and then roll your weight onto the outer edges of your feet, lifting your arches up as high as you can. Once again, 5 sets of 10 repetitions should be sufficient.
This is a good way to mould and reshape an arch that is starting to fall and all you need for it is a tennis ball. You will once again sit with your back completely straight and place the ball just underneath your arch.
Roll the ball around underneath your arch for about 3 minutes before switching to the other foot. Do this every day and you should start to notice some progress.
Though I wouldn’t suggest this as an exclusive treatment for fallen arches, you would be surprised at how much it can help. Our feet don’t have to do as much work when we keep them in shoes all the time.
Most people would probably think this is a good thing, but if you want to work on getting your arches back, then you need to put your feet to work. Walking barefoot can strengthen your feet and improve stability.
And walking barefoot outside has been scientifically proven to improve your mental health by getting you better connected to nature so that’s an added benefit.
Depending on the severity of the problem, you might be recommended for some physical therapy with a professional. In this case, they will likely give you a lot of similar exercises to the ones discussed, along with a few others.
Working on this by yourself is all well and good and for some people, it will be enough, but getting guidance from a professional won’t ever hurt. They’ll be able to give you better and more specific advice than you can get online, and will also be able to analyze your progress and modify the approach if needed.
Surgery might be the best option in some cases. This will likely be the last resort if all of the other treatment options haven’t yielded any results and if your fallen arches have become particularly painful.
The complexity of the surgery will depend on your age, level of fitness, and the severity of the problem with your feet, but in many cases, it can be quite simple. So if you and your podiatrist determine that this is the necessary solution, it should be a definite fix and one that you can recover from relatively quickly.
It’s important to note that before you do any of the above, it can be a good idea to consult with your doctor and get their opinion on how to proceed. But as you can see, there are a number of potential solutions for flat feet out there and it doesn’t have to be something that will inhibit your daily life for very long.
Article contributed by Fortunate Feet