Feet are designed to support the body, and aid in absorbing the shock of the heel hitting the ground. Flat feet are generally less efficient at absorbing shock and are less able to adapt to uneven terrain, and can cause pain in the legs, neck, back, and pelvis.
You may have flat feet arch of your foot touches the ground when you stand up. Normally, your foot should naturally arch when you stand, but not everyone has developed arches. Some arches don’t develop during childhood, while in other cases, flat feet occur after an injury or from years of wear and tear.
Types of Flat Feet
Flat feet are not always a reason for concern. If you have flat feet, and aren’t experiencing any pain, then there is no need for concern.
- Flexible Flat Foot - Flexible flat foot is the most common types of flat feet, and doesn’t usually result in any pain. With flexible flatfoot, the soles of your foot touch the ground fully when you stand.
- Short Achilles Tendon - With this condition, you might experience pain when walking or running since the tendon that connects your heel to the calf is too short. This causes the heel to lift too soon when running or walking, causing pain or discomfort.
- Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction - This condition occurs later in adulthood when the tendon connecting your calf muscle and ankle becomes injured or swollen. Since the arch of your foot lacks support, it will result in pain on both the inside, and outside of your foot and ankle.
While not everyone with flat feet will experience problems, it is possible to experience pain and discomfort due to flat feet. Symptoms to look for include swollen ankles, pain in the lower leg, or stiff or numb feet.
If you are experiencing pain with your flat feet, it’s important to consult a podiatrist. A podiatrist will be able to prescribe exercises or stretches to help improve foot function, and in some cases may recommend foot supports. While it’s normal for babies and toddlers to have flat feet since their arches are not yet developed, for children, special heel cups or inserts can help the foot to fully develop.