Feet are the stabilisers of the body. They are the foundation on which we stand. They are made up of 26 bones, and 100 different muscles from our toes to our ankles. We rely on them to carry our weight which is distributed by the angle of the arch. If the arch is fallen, at one stage of your life pain will be experienced in the foot and it likely to referred to other areas of the body,  especially the back. If you have flat feet, taking precautions and care can prevent significant pain and the accumulation of strain damage.

The problem with flat feet
People with flat feet can find walking long distances and impact sports cause significant pain because their body is assembled differently from people with neutral arches. While pain may originate in the foot, because of the way the muscles and bones connect, flat feet affect the shins, knees, hips, back and is even known to cause blinding headaches from referred pain. If you begin to feel pain in arches or within the top of your foot, heed the warning from the body and modify your activities.

You might also be interested in the relationship between healthy feet and back pain

How do you get flat feet?
Flat feet are fairly common across the population. Often they are an inherited genetic trait but you also find some people acquire them over time through overuse and injury. You may have heard the old term “flat foots” bandied about as an insult. The saying goes back decades when police in cities like London and New York patrolled the streets so heavily that they developed flat feet. Other conditions like obesity, diabetes and pregnancy are also responsible for causing flat feet.

Identify fallen arches
A healthy foot with a normal arch allows a neutral distribution of weight and a natural, harmless gait. A high arch pushes weight to the outer edge of the foot and heel in a position called supination.

The opposite position is pronation when the arch has fallen. It creates a flat foot where weight is rolled to the inner edge of the ball and heel and you would expect to see a relatively broad footprint. The person with flat feet is also prone to have feet that point outwards, reminiscent of a ballerina. It is an adjustment that their body needs to make otherwise their knees would point inwards instead of directly ahead, making walking more of a challenge.

Next time you are at the beach, see if you can diagnose fallen arches by observing the footprints left behind on the sand. Alternatively, seek medical advice from your General Practitioner, or a specialist like a podiatrist.

The most effective daily management
Generally, people find the arch support they need from orthotics, whether they are custom made by a podiatrist or ordered online from a pain specialist like badbacks.com.au.

Check out the range of Bad Backs Orthotic Arch supports here

News reports from the Unites States Studies strongly advocate for the use of orthotics because users have been able to reduce associated back pain by 35.5 percent. Patients were able to increase the pain relief to 40 percent by combining the use of orthotics with regular treatment from a chiropractor.

Orthotics can take a few weeks to get used to, but the support they provide the feet allows patients to move around a lot more freely. Researchers at the National University of Health Sciences (in the United States) found with orthotics, “function was up in patients by more than 18 percent. With the addition of chiropractic care, that functionality was up more than 32 percent.”

If pain persists, at some stage opioids may be prescribed by a doctor. While drugs may work with associated back pain, or headaches, they will not stop shooting pains felt on impact through the foot, shins and knees. They may relieve some pain symptoms, but do not necessarily help in the long term.

Check out Bad Backs’ range of arch supports here

Orthotics, placed inside supportive, well-fitted shoes can help realign the feet and neutralise the gait. They are accessible, comfortable and help diminish pain in the feet, back and the rest of the body. It is also important to choose the right kind of shoes to avoid a condition like back pain from forming.