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How to Avoid Getting Flat Feet
Flat feet, also known as fallen arches of pes planus, occur when the supportive arch of the foot becomes progressively flatter. Your natural arches are personal and unique to your body, so if you have flexible flat feet, it's usually not a problem. Unfortunately, if you had high arches and they've become compressed and flattened over time, they could become rigid and painful. Stop the threat of flat feet by adopting good foot care practices.
Purchase orthopedic arch-supporting shoe inserts from the drugstore, looking specifically for those labeled "Arch Support," suggests ePodiatry.com. These inserts slip into your existing shoes, but have a small raised area where your arch will make contact with the pad. This gives your foot added support, especially if you'll be on your feet for awhile.
Switch your footwear each day. Wearing the exact same, unsupportive shoes each day can cause your feet to over-correct for the lack of support and the shape of the shoe, which can lead to fallen arches. By switching your footwear often, you ensure that your feet never adopt a certain shape because of your specific shoes.
Ditch high heels that wedge your feet into tiny spaces and cause you to balance on a skinny, spike heels. Heels alter your center of gravity and alignment and wearing them on a regular basis can render your arches almost useless. If you must wear heels, choose those with a wide width and box heel and wear them for short periods of time only, suggests the Health Mad website. Keep "commuter" shoes with you that you can change into when you're done wearing your heels.
Visit a comfort shoe specialty store and have your feet fitted with shoes that prohibit pronated feet, suggests Medline Plus, an online resource of the National Institutes of Health. Pronated feet, or feet that roll inward, are a common cause of flat feet. It's a naturally occurring condition, but it can result in ankle pain and, eventually, flatter feet. The right shoes offer a side support that keep your feet stable and stop the rolling inward motion.
Lose weight. Carrying excess weight on your body exerts excess pressure on your feet and can exacerbate flat feet. A study performed by the University of Wollongong, with results published in a 2006 issue of "Obesity," found that children who were overweight had significantly lower arches than children who were at a healthier weight. By losing weight, you may notice a decrease in your foot pain as well as a slew of other side effects of being overweight.
- Medline Plus: Pes Planus
- Pita-fernandez S, Gonzalez-martin C, Alonso-tajes F, et al. Flat foot in a random population and its impact on quality of life and functionality. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017;11(4):LC22-LC27. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2017/24362.9697
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- American Academy of Family Physicians. Flat feet. Updated March 13, 2018.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Vertical talus. Reviewed August 2011.
- Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Flat feet. Updated March 17, 2019.
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- Cleveland Clinic. Adult acquired flatfoot. Updated March 2, 2019.
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- American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Flexible flatfoot.
- Hollander K, De villiers JE, Sehner S, et al. Growing-up (habitually) barefoot influences the development of foot and arch morphology in children and adolescents. Sci Rep. 2017;7(1):8079. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-07868-4
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Flexible flatfoot in children. Updated October 2018.
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- Benedetti M, Ceccarelli F, Berti L, et al. Diagnosis of flexible flat foot in children: A systematic clinical approach. Orthopedics. 2011; 34(2):94-20101221-04. doi:10.3928/01477447-20101221-04.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.