This condition is a progressive collapse of the tendons and ligaments that hold up the foot’s arch. This condition most commonly affects women. It typically occurs in only one foot, but in some cases, both feet are afflicted.
Flat feet (pes planus) is a term used for a structural deformity of the foot whereby the arch is flattened and it makes contact or near contact with the ground. This condition is fairly rare and affects approximately 5% of the population. Most people who think they have ‘flat feet’ actually have a normal arch profile when non-weight bearing or sitting down. Upon standing the arch flattens somewhat and the ankle, or more technically the sub-talar joint ‘rolls in’ or excessively pronates, creating the appearance that the feet have rolled in. Approximately 70% of the population suffers from this. Pronation is a normal motion that is necessary for shock absorption and allows the foot to adapt to uneven terrain. When the foot stays in a pronated position for an extended period of time during gait or is rather excessive, it can become pathological and contribute to variety of painful conditions.
Some conditions that can develop from excessive/ pathological pronation include:
- Heel pain (Plantar Fasciitis)
- Ball of foot pain
- Achilles tendonitis/tendinopathy
- Shin splints
- Knee pain
- Lower back pain
- Development of bunions
Generally our foot structure is inherited from our parents. Age, pregnancy and obesity can also cause the arches to flatten or worsen the rolling in of the ankle/ sub-talar joint.
If you are not experiencing any pain or problems then treatment is not necessary. However if you are experiencing musculoskeletal pain and the foot structure is a contributing factor, then orthotic therapy (hyperlink to orthotic page) is generally a very effective treatment option. Orthotic therapy can also work very well in combination with other treatment modalities such as mobilisation, dry needling, low level laser therapy, strengthening exercises and stretching.