Having flat feet is definitely not a death sentence for your fight. There is a chance you may live your entire whole life with flat arches and never have pain or instability. There is a wide range of possibilities that may arise from having flat feet. From lack of mobility to ankle pain, or reduced quality of life.
Flat feet can be one of the largest contributors to ailments such as plantar fasciitis (heel pain), pain in your arches, ankle swelling, tendonitis, and difficulty walking. These problems typically become worse over a six to twelve month period. These symptoms can worsen over time, leading to surgical correction if they aren’t dealt with soon enough.
Arches are a pivotal part of the gait cycle. They propel your body forward, support the weight you place on your feet, and help cushion the impact of the striking forces of your body on the floor.
Arches are designed to act as a shock absorber that adapts to your body as the weight shifts from the outside of your body during contact and then onto the inside part of your body as you begin to step off and lift your foot off of the ground. The better shape your arches are in, the less impact the forces of weight bearing have on your tendons, ligaments, bones, and joints. When you have flattened arches, you have less capability to reduce the mechanical forces on your foot and, over time, this can lead to “breakdown” of the important tendons and joints that keep you on your feet!
The quick and hard answer is no. A large percentage of kids have visibly fallen arches in early childhood, which is normal. I see a lot of mothers whose kids have just started walking and they think they’re going to be pigeon-toed.
During this age, the child is still developing. The hips, knees, leg bones, and feet are still developing and over time their gait pattern will change. It would be smart just to keep an eye on it between the ages of 3-5 and if the arches haven’t self-corrected by then, it would be wise to come in for a checkup. If your child complains of his or her feet “feeling tired”, if they’re limping, or if you pick up on any signals that they don’t want to play as much outside, bring the child in and we will perform a gait analysis.
Sometimes children have a fusion of the bones in the feet that is called a tarsal coalition, which means two of the bones that commonly don’t connect to each other are connected, leading to decreased mobility and pain. While this is fairly uncommon, it can be repaired by the use of a temporary implant that will correct the fallen arches.
I think the smartest way to go is to go see your doctor for x-rays and for them to watch how you’re walking. I would highly suggest purchasing custom orthotics, which will mirror your feet and create a supportive arch beneath your feet that gives much needed shock absorption, added comfort, and takes the pressure off of your Posterior Tibial Tendon, the tendon on the inside part of your foot that is typically damaged due to long-term wear and tear from being flatfooted. Custom Orthotics typically last from 8 years and cost on average of a nickel per day in that time frame! It’s an investment in yourself and in your future.
In summary, treating your flat feet don’t need to be difficult. With proper orthotics, knowledge about what to watch out for, and treatment options, you will live without worry. While thousands of Americans live with flat feet without pain, if you’re experiencing symptoms you should NOT wait! Focus on stretching your legs and feet routinely (at least 5-6 times per week) to stay loose and limber and don’t forget to slip orthotics in your shoes! For more on orthotics, check out my Podcast!