When foot arches are in the normal range with regard to their height, people don’t even give them a second thought. The structures simply do their job by helping to propel the body forward with every step, while at the same time assisting in absorbing the forces that come with walking and running. If you have flat feet or high arches, however, they might not perform these functions in the intended fashion.
The Three Foot Arches
There are basically three types of foot arches – normal, high, and low. The ones that we consider to be normal are moderate in height, do not typically present any difficulties or problems, and provide ideal levels of support and function. High arches, as you can imagine, feature a pronounced arc and are frequently accompanied by various issues. Similarly, low arches also have an adverse effect on the way your feet work.
Pronation and Potential Issues
With every step that you take, your feet undergo a natural, inwards-rolling motion called pronation. This motion is necessary for helping your lower legs absorb the forces and shock that comes with moving, especially when you perform high-impact activities like running.
Runners who overpronate may experience pain from the foot all the way up through the lower back. The excessive rolling motion in your foot affects how your ankle, knee, and hips perform, too. The knee and hip, in particular, are forced out of their natural alignment and your back has to rotate in an unnatural manner as a result.
Diagnosing Flat Feet
As you look directly down at your feet, it is not easy to determine which arch style you have. An easy tip to help you find out is to simply observe your footprint. If you look down at a wet footprint and see a wide print—as opposed to seeing only half or a sliver of the foot at your midpoint—your arches are likely low.
Another way to establish if you have low arches is to look at your shoes. They will likely have excess wear in the heel and ball of the foot areas and along the inner edge if you do. This is due to the overpronation when you walk or run.
Still not sure? Then simply contact our office, schedule an appointment, and let our professionals give you a conclusive answer.
Risk Factors and Complications
Unlike with other conditions, there are not necessarily actions you can take that will either cause or reverse flat feet. It often comes down to your inherited foot structure, but there are other factors that may be in play. Obesity, pregnancy, diabetes, injury, rheumatoid arthritis, and just becoming older are other potential causes.
Treating Flat Feet
There is no need to treat low arches if they are not causing you pain or problems. If you lead an active life and have issues that crop up after periods of activity, however, make an appointment with our office and we can assess your situation. You may benefit from effective, conservative treatment options like:
- Arch supports or orthotic devices customized for your feet by our office. These will offer the support you do not naturally receive from your arches.
- A carefully-planned stretching regimen. Exercises and stretches to keep your Achilles tendon limber will help to alleviate or prevent issues that happen on account of flat feet.
- Low-impact activities. It is possible that your existing workout program contributes to your pain and discomfort. Using low-impact activities like bicycling, swimming, and walking can help.
- Structurally-supportive shoes. Our office can guide you towards footwear choices that work best for your feet, particularly towards models that are intended for people who have low arches.
It is always our goal to correct your condition through conservative treatment, but there may be a time when surgery has to be considered. If we reach this point, we will review all of your options together so you can make the best decision for you.
When you experience pain and discomfort from flat feet, let the experts at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., help. Contact our Medford, OR office via our online form or call us at (541) 776-3338 to request an appointment today.