Fallen Arches

Fallen arches (flat feet) are a common problem in the general population. Most people are not aware that they have flat feet. Chances are you are no different.

The reason you may not be aware, for the most part, is because you seldom look at your feet in the weight-bearing (standing) position. You most likely tend to look at them while you are sitting. In the sitting (non-weight bearing) position your feet will usually appear to have an arch. However, when you assume weight-bearing flat feet become evident.

Foot Arches
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Foot Ligaments Help To Stabilize

Your feet have over 100 muscles and ligaments that hold the bones of the feet in their proper position. When these ligaments become stretched they lose their supportive property. This is due to the fact that ligaments lack any substantial elastin. Elastin is what is found in tendons that give the muscles and tendons their ability to stretch and return to normal length much like a rubber band.

A ligament's job is to restrain joints from going beyond their designed limits. They act more like guy wires and are not supposed to stretch.

When your ligaments become stretched they lose their stabilizing ability and fail to hold the bones of your feet in their proper position. What eventually ensues is a collapsing of your arch in the standing, weight-bearing position.

Now with weight-bearing flatfeet (pes planus) or fallen arches becomes evident.

Your body is an amazing creation. Because walking is such an important function, flat feet will usually not cause much noticeable pain or discomfort in your childhood and early teen years. However, with adulthood and advancing years the feet will eventually demonstrate symptoms of or from fallen arches. The symptoms will usually be achy, tired and swollen feet.

Foot Pain

Most of the time, the symptoms will not be noticed in the foot at all. Other body areas will usually express symptoms due to flat feet before any symptoms are felt in the feet.

Telltale Symptoms Of Flat Feet

Some symptoms related to fallen arches are:

  • Lower back pain.
  • Knee pain.
  • Hip pain.
  • So-called "growing pains" in children.
  • Shoulder pain, neck pain, and headaches.


View The Effects Of Flat Feet And Over-Pronation

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So, the real danger of flat feet is the harm being caused to your other joints and areas of the body.

Early detection of flat feet and its cousin over-pronation, along with appropriate treatment, can often prevent the degenerative processes that occur in the lower back, hip, and knees.

This is one reason why we are seeing an epidemic of lower back pain, hip pain, and knee pain with their associated arthritis and subsequent lower back surgeries, and hip and knee joint replacements.

Early detection will often prevent the premature joint degeneration of your lower back, hips, and knees. One of the best ways to prevent the need for lower back surgery, as well as hip and knee replacements, is to correct the flat feet and over-pronation early in life and maintain that correction throughout life.

Why Did You Get Fallen Arches?

You were not meant to walk on flat, non-compressible surfaces such as what has become common in the past 150-200 years in the history of mankind.

We have gone from walking on earth, sod and sand, to walking and standing all day, everyday on hard floors and concrete.

The earth is man's natural arch support. The arch is supported by the forces of the sand or sod exerted upward on the arches of the feet while standing and walking.

Footprint in sand showing arch

Just observe your footprint that you leave when walking on sand or soft soil. The footprint shows the actual shape of the foot and where the most pressure is exerted by walking. The greater the indentation in the sand the greater the pressure. The heels leave the deepest indentation,then the metatarsal area just behind the toes, and finally the outside of the foot. Where there is little or no indentation the sand is supplying an upward support where it is needed...particularly the medial foot or what is known as the medial longitudinal arch.

With severe fallen arches the impression the foot leaves will show less overall differences across the foot.

Man was designed to walk on compressible surfaces that render a natural support to the feet and permit normal function of the entire body, particularly the lower back, hips, and knees.

This natural support of the earth would help prevent or lessen the stretching of the ligaments, hold the bones of the feet in their proper position, maintain the normal arches of the feet, and keep the feet from over pronating. All of this would reduce or minimize the stresses and damaging effects to the knees, hips, and lower back compared to the excessive forces of walking on concrete and hard, unyielding surfaces.

Proper Footwear Is Essential

By wearing proper footwear you can help to minimize these damaging effects. However, shoes do not prevent arch collapse (flat feet) and over-pronation. This is because no shoe, despite their appearance, has an arch support built into it. Those insoles that come in the shoes are nothing but show. They are not supports and will not help fallen arches.

A shoe will minimize, to some degree, the forces transmitted from walking on hard, flat surfaces but only to a very small extent.

Even when new shoes are worn for just a few weeks they can show signs of collapse. Over time the shoe will show excessive wear on the heels and soles. This will now compound the problem of flat feet and over-pronation.

What started out as a problem of fallen arches and over-pronation is now a greater problem. If flat feet and over-pronation are not a problem to begin with they will eventually become a problem if excessively worn shoes are not replaced frequently and if custom-made orthotics are not fitted and used daily.

Flat feet are a permanent condition. They cannot be corrected or cured. But, they can be corrected for. The only way to correct for flat feet is to either walk on sand, soft sod or soil, or use custom-fitted and custom-made orthotics.

Arch supports purchased "off-the-shelf" at the drugstore, local mart, or retail store are not custom fitted just for your feet. They are built for length size. In other words, they are only size specific and are not built for individual foot differences and variations found within the general population.

Feet are as different as fingerprints. One person's size 7 or size 10 foot will be different than another person's size 7 or size 10.  There are no size 7 orthotics that will fit all size 7 feet. Not only that, but your feet are also different when comparing one side to the other. Your left foot will be different in size, shape, and alignment compared to that of the right.

So there are not only variations in one person to the next, there are also differences when comparing the right to left foot as well

What's The Solution For Fallen Arches?

Foot Orthotics

Click here to view custom-made stabilizing orthotics.

The solution is having arch supports that are custom fitted and custom made for you. Those custom-made arch supports should be flexible or semi-rigid to allow for proper function. A hard, plastic, rigid orthotic will not allow for the proper dynamic action of the foot.

All rigid orthotics will transmit stresses through the body, particularly to the knees, hips, and lower back.

Quality arch supports should absorb shock. This can be achieved with the use of special shock absorbing visco-elastic polymers that are built into the heels of the orthotics.

Also, most orthotics only support the obvious medial longitudinal arch. The lateral longitudinal and transverse arches must also be supported in order to allow for the proper dynamic function of your feet.

Using orthotics that only support one arch is like trying to use a camera stand with one leg as opposed to a tripod. Which do you think will give you the best camera support and take the best pictures?

If using orthotics that support only one arch or one that supports all three, which do you think will give you the best support and promote the best function?

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