I have flat feet – What does that mean?

November 10, 2017

Let us put your mind at ease. Just because you have flat feet, doesn’t mean anything is wrong.

Our bodies are complex and incredible. We’re all born with bones of varying lengths, with muscles of very lengths and strengths,  and with ligaments of varying flexibilities. Yet when it comes to the effective functioning of the feet and legs to allow us to walk comfortably and for very long lengths of times – we’re all able to do it! Our bones, joints, ligaments and muscles work together and our body compensates for individual variances. It’s exactly the same with flat feet. Many people (and Podiatrists themselves) have very flat feet, yet remain completely asymptomatic. They experience no pain, they can walk and run just as fast as anyone with ‘arches’ and it causes no disruption to their day to day lives. In this case, having flat feet does not mean that anything is wrong or that you need to fix something or recreate an arch.  

However, if you’re getting symptoms such as pain, then it does become problematic.

Regardless of whether you have flat feet or high arches, pain is our body’s way of letting us know that something isn’t working. If you’re getting pain, tenderness, or discomfort in your feet or legs, and you have flat feet, then it very well may be related. This is because the flatter your feet are, the harder certain muscles have to work as your feet flatten very close to the ground and then lift off again as you take your next step. The harder muscles work, the faster they tire, and the more vulnerable they are to overuse injuries and strains. In this case, having devices such as orthotics that are prescribed specifically for your feet by a Podiatrist (orthotics are not a one-size-fits-all product and never let a salesman convince you that any orthotic will do the trick) can genuinely help to support the musculature at your feet and legs. Supporting the muscles means you move optimally and will place less strain on muscles overall. Don’t get us wrong – there are orthotics you can use that are pre-made, but make sure you let your Podiatrist make that call after a thorough examination of your feet and legs. This won’t often be the case if you have a specific injury.  

So to sum up…

If you have flat feet but are happy, healthy and don’t get any symptoms or pain in your feet or legs – great! This means your body is happily compensating and working with your foot type at your current activity level. If you are getting painful symptoms, stop. Don’t put more strain on your feet, and get them checked by your Podiatrist and find out what’s really going on and if it’s being caused by your flat feet – it may not be. Also be careful – you may find that if you increase your activity level you may start to become symptomatic, so keep that in mind and get your feet checked if you start developing pain. For the best Podiatry service in Auckland, come and see our experts at Perform Podiatry here in Remuera. We’re part of the One Health building and are committed to seeing you performing at your best! We’re foot health experts and are proud to be serving our community and beyond.