Known as pes planus in medical terminology, collapsed arches or flat feet is a foot problem that is caused when small bones, ligaments and tendons on the bottom of the feet are unable to support the body properly and eventually collapse. In newborns and toddlers, flat feet are a normal phenomenon; however, most of the times, tissues beneath the feet tighten with age and form a shock-absorbing arch. Flat feet are caused by many factors like improper footwear, obesity and even hereditary predisposition. Flat feet don’t lead to any negative consequences or symptoms in most adults. However, some people may experience pain in foot, back or leg and their ability of walking, running or playing sports may be restricted due to flat feet. Therefore, collapsed arches are an important issue that should be rectified.
Understanding the Exact Cause
Tight Tendons: If you have a tight Achilles tendon since birth, it puts excessive pressure on the front 3/4th portion of foot, thereby preventing the formation of a normal bouncy arch. The job of Achilles tendon is to connect calf muscle to the heel. If it’s excessively tight, it leads to lifting of the heel off the ground too early during every step while walking, thereby leading to strain and pain beneath the foot. In such a case, while standing, the foot becomes flat but while not bearing weight, it remains flexible.
Along with heel and arch pain, this type of flat feet can also cause pain in knee, calf and/or back, trouble while tiptoeing, swelling around ankles and problem in running fast or jumping high.
Bone Deformity: This is considered to be ‘true’ flat feet because the arch is never formed during childhood due to a deformity, malformations or fusions in bone. It may be present since birth or may develop in adulthood because of a foot injury or a disease like inflammatory arthritis or osteoporosis.
Obesity: Adult-acquired flat feet is normally because of overuse/overstretching/injury to post tibial tendon which is the most vital soft tissue of the arch offering the most support and running from the calf muscle along the inner side of the ankle up to the arch. The commonest reason of overstretching of posterior tibial tendon is excessive weight (obesity), especially if footwear that doesn’t offer proper support is worn.
How to Treat Collapsed Arches Naturally
Wearing Properly Supportive Footwear: Irrespective of the cause of your collapsed arches, wearing footwear that will offer proper arch support is a definite answer to the question of how to prevent feet problems and will provide some benefit at least and even may relieve the symptoms totally. Get yourself shoes that will provide significant amount of arch support, firm heel, spacious toe box and a flexible sole. If your arch is well supported, tension on Achilles and posterior tibial tendons is reduced.
Avoid heels higher than 2 ¼ inches as they cause short/tight Achilles tendons. However, wearing totally flat shoes is also not a solution as it puts too much pressure on the heels. Hence wearing shoes with heels of height ¼ to ½ inches is recommended.
Buy shoes at the end of the day because your feet are the largest then.
Custom-made Orthotics: Orthotics are shoe inserts that are semi-rigid and support arch and help better biomechanics while walking, standing and running. They also provide cushion and some level of shock absorption due to which risk of development of problems in other joints is reduced. However, they don’t reverse any structural abnormality of the foot neither can they form an arch in the long run.
You can get customized orthotics at podiatrists, physicians, osteopaths, physiotherapists and chiropractors.
Lose Weight: If your weight is more than normal, losing weight offers a plethora of health benefits including removal of pressure from bones, tendons and ligaments and also supplying more blood to the area. To lose weight, stop eating refined sugar and saturated fats (in short, all junk food) and drinking sugary drinks like soda pop; instead, start consuming a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat, fish and poultry, whole grains, nuts and plain pure water.
For top health condition of your feet, visit JointEssential.com. Here you will get thorough information about various foot problems and their solutions.