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And when I say “many,” I mean an estimated 18 MILLION adults in the U.S. — plus another 8 million with low arches.
For some people, having flat feet is no big deal, but for others, it’s a source of stress and pain on the heels, or even in the knees, hips, or back.
I want to tell you about the causes and symptoms, but also about what insoles or in-home exercises can do to help!
What EXACTLY Does it Mean to Have “Flat Feet”?
You probably have a general idea of what “flat feet” are: feet with little to no arch, that can’t support the rest of the body properly.
Since many of us are too busy working our feet all day to give them proper attention and notice until it’s too late — until there’s serious pain going on, flat feet can go undetected for years.
How Do You Get Flat Feet?
While you can be born with flat feet, the condition can also be caused over time due to tendons stretching or tearing. (Think of these as rubber bands that connect your bones together, and help your foot move, by pulling just the right amount on your foot bones.)
If could injure your tendon, or you do something less obvious and painful, like inflame the tendon over time, that could cause flat feet.
Also, if you’ve ever broken a bone in your foot, or if you have bone problems (arthritis, osteoporosis, etc.) you can slowly develop flat feet.
The Symptoms that Tiptoe Up on You
The stronger symptoms to look out for are heel, knee, hip, and back pain. But also, if your feet just generally hurt, and you think they get tired or swollen more easily than other people’s, flat feet may be the culprit!
Let’s say you’ve ignored your aching feet and possibly aching rest of your body for too long…what’s next? Surgery? Expensive physical therapy? Almost-as-expensive X-rays and MRIS? Less expensive but still inconvenient medications and injections?
Well, these may be the only options for more severe cases, but for the average person, flat feet insoles will suffice.
The Evidence in “Support” of Arch Supports!
Arch supports (also called insoles) do exactly that, and not only do they live up to their namesake, but also support the HEEL.
Some have a harder plastic shell cradling the heel, and some have a softer gel pad. The former option is more stabilizing and the latter is more comforting. There’s a variety of insoles to choose from! Also, for over-the-counter insoles, prices typically range from $10 to $50.
Not Ready to Make the Leap?
So if you don’t want to invest in flat feet insoles yet…and don’t want to put your foot in your mouth if you buy the wrong kind…(OK, I’m done! Sorry!)
Exercising is a great free option!
Think of it as physical therapy you can do at home. These strengthening exercises include putting a golf ball under your feet and rolling it up and down, or spreading out and wiggling your toes.
After all, the issue that causes flat feet is tendon coordination…and focusing on these tendons directly isn’t something we do in everyday life.
Specific exercises are meant to concentrate on the tendons in unique ways:
Another example: grabbing the fabric of a towel underneath your toes by keeping your foot still, but curling your toes under. These are called “towel crunches” and you can do them anytime to help with your flat feet!
People tend to ignore sore feet, because it’s normal for your feet to be sore after walking or standing around all day. Right?
Well, due to gravity, your feet are enduring thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch every time you stand on them…so, if you want to keep walking on them, it’s vital that you treat them with the care they deserve, especially if you have flat feet or low arches.
Whether you opt for flat feet insoles, in-home exercises, or a trip to the doctor…DON’T ignore foot pain.
Your beat feet are trying to tell you something!!