A person with Flat Foot Physiotherapy feet (fallen arches) has low arches or no arches at all.
Most cases don’t cause problems and treatment isn’t usually needed.
The arch, or instep, is the inside part of the foot that’s usually raised off the ground when you stand, while the rest of the foot remains flat on the ground.
Most people have a noticeable space on the inner part of their foot (the arch). The height of the arch varies from person to person.
Flat Foot Physiotherapy feet are easy to identify while standing or walking. When someone with flat feet stands, their inner foot or arch flattens and their foot may roll over to the inner side. This is known as over-pronation.
To see whether your foot overpronates, stand on tiptoes or push your big toe back as far as possible. If the arch of your foot doesn’t appear, your foot is likely to over-pronate when you walk or run.
It can be difficult to tell whether a child has flat feet because their arches may not fully develop until they’re 10 years of age.
Causes of flat feet
Having low or no arches is normal for some people. In these cases, flat feet are usually inherited and the feet are fairly flexible.
Occasionally, flat feet can be caused by an abnormality that develops in the womb, such as a problem with a joint or where two or more bones are fused together. This is known as tarsal coalition and results in the feet being flat and stiff.
Flat feet that develop in later life can be caused by a condition that affects the joints, such as arthritis, or an injury to a muscle, tendon or joint in the foot.
Conditions that affect the nervous system (brain and spinal cord) can also cause the arches to fall. Over time, the muscles gradually become stiffer and weaker and lose their flexibility. Conditions where this can occur include cerebral palsy, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy.
Adult-acquired flat feet often affect women over 40 years of age. It often goes undiagnosed and develops when the tendon that supports the foot arch gradually stretches over time.
It’s not fully understood what causes the tendon to become stretched, but some experts believe that wearing high heels and standing or walking for long periods may play a part. Obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes are all risk factors.
Recent research has found a link with changes to the tendon in the foot and an increase in a type of protein called proteolytic enzyme. These enzymes can break down some areas of the tendon, weakening it and causing the foot arch to fall. Similar changes are also seen in other conditions, such as Achilles tendonitis.
This could have important implications for treating flat feet because medication that specifically targets these enzymes could provide an alternative to surgery. However, further research is needed and this type of treatment is thought to be about 10 to 15 years away.
Problems caused by flat feet
Flat Foot Physiotherapy feet don’t usually cause problems, but they can put a strain on your muscles and ligaments (ligaments link two bones together at a joint). This may cause pain in your legs when you walk.