When researching this topic using the key words “fallen arches,” one of my boys was under the impression that McDonald’s had collapsed! To the best of my knowledge, that is not the case, but there are thousands of falling arches across the country and even the world, and it is creating a rather uncomfortable dilemma.
While most of us may not give much thought to our feet on a regular basis, they are at the foundation of our physical being. If they are out of alignment or just not having a very good day, it can affect many areas along your skeletal structure. If you suffer from fallen arches, also known as flat feet, you are missing the arch support that is so crucial to supporting your body.
Individuals who have flat feet tend to shift the pressure of walking, then, to other areas of the feet, which ultimately leads to pain. If this goes untreated, those flat feet are not only painful in and of themselves, but they can generate a host of lower body joint problems, as well.
Flat feet are usually present at birth and are mainly hereditary. However, fallen arches can be brought on through foot abuse, such as standing or walking for appreciable amounts of time in high heels; wearing shoes that do not allow for proper arch support; or they can occur simply due to weakened muscles brought on by aging or heavy strain placed upon the feet. It’s no surprise, then, that being overweight could be a highly contributing factor.
When the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support the arch of the foot are not functioning properly, then the arch cannot work to the best of its ability. Over time, these muscles, ligaments, and tendons may become stretched and unable to uphold the arch. Fallen arches are basically the failure of these elements to support the arch of the foot.
Fallen arches can contribute to a host of problems. If the foot remains flat throughout each step, the re-locking of the joints in the mid-foot fails to occur. As a result, the foot cannot push off strongly while walking. When the foot cannot be a strong lever for push-off, this engages the calf muscles, making them work harder. In fact, bulky calf muscles are typical on someone with fallen arches. By the end of the day, these muscles may feel tired and sore from being over-worked while making up for lack of effective foot function.
Flat feet can also contribute to heel pain, or plantar’s fasciitis. Moving right on up, lack of arch support in the foot can lead to pain in the ankle joints, the knee, the hip, and the lower back. Without proper alignment at your foundation, everything can become skewed. When flat feet cause the foot to be rotated all the way to the floor (over-pronation), the bones of the ankle joint are forced out of alignment. This, in turn, causes the tibia and femur that connect at the knee joint to become misaligned. The body’s joints require proper alignment as a means to evenly disperse body weight over the whole surface of the joint. When the body weight is evenly distributed, the cartilage provides easy, pain-free movement of the joints. When that cartilage becomes stressed or overloaded because the joints are not balanced, it can contribute to the painful wear and tear of the joints, which is also referred to as osteoarthritis. This is a leading cause of chronic knee pain.
My husband suffers from flat feet, and his biggest issues are continual discomfort and pain. Whenever he has been sitting for an extended period of time, or when he stands up in the morning, he walks with a noticeable limp for a few minutes. He has tried a plethora of treatment options, such as foot massage, arch supports in his shoes, stretching his feet through certain exercises, and taking a break from his morning passion – running. While some of these measures have provided temporary relief, he still struggles with foot issues on a daily basis.
He also experiences lower back pain on occasion. Those with flat feet have less supportive structure, creating postural strain and misalignment in the foot, ankle, knee, and lower back. In theory, his flat feet could also be contributing to his lower back pain.
For most people, getting a pair of shoes with ample support and stability is the first order of business. It is important to use insoles that not only support the arch but that help to add stability to the heel. Some cases may require surgical intervention to stabilize the bones and improve foot support and overall function. A consultation with a qualified podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon would be a good first step. And, hopefully, the steps you take from there on out will be pain-free.
(Information for this article was found at http://www.footsmart.com/healthcondition.aspx?ailmentid=63