Figuring out flat feet

flatIf you’re curious, make a wet footprint by the swimming pool—when the entire outline of the foot is seen, and not just the heel and ball of the foot, you most likely have flat feet.

Dr. J. Marshall Devall, a podiatrist at Scott & White South Loop Clinic says this foot structure is fairly common, so you’re not alone. There may be others, especially in your own family who may have flat feet.

“Flat feet are more common than high arched feet, and some studies have placed the overall incidence in the population at 25%,” says Dr. Marshall. “Foot structure can definitely be inherited…and along with this comes inheritance of many of the potential problems associated with flat feet.”

Is There Anything Wrong With Having Flat Feet?

From a young age you may have realized you may not have much of an arch, but this doesn’t mean you’re bound to have problems.

Just as some people need eye glasses or have protruding ears, having flat feet is a development variant, which helps  makes every human unique.

Your unique foot structure is inherited, and by a certain age your shape will be what it will be for the rest of your life. Parents may need to keep in mind, however, that a child’s feet take a few years to fully develop and there is no proven way to forcibly correct infant or childhood flat footedness.

If I Have Flat Feet Will I Be in Pain?

For those who fall into the flat feet category, consider what Dr. Devall says: “Having flat feet is only a big deal if they are causing pain or disability.”

“Explore."

Dr. Devall explains a few potential drawbacks or things to be aware of:

  • You may get fatigued with lots of walking
  • You most likely find shoes with good arch support, like sports shoes, more comfortable
  • You may feel pain or disability when doing lots of standing
  • You may be at risk for mechanical problems, like bunions or hammertoes

“To keep things simple for patients, I always explain that if your feet are extremely flat, or extremely high-arched, or more toward one type than the other, you have a tendency to develop problems often causing pain or disability as a result,” says Dr. Devall.

If you work on your feet all day, you also may be at risk for pain or discomfort. Don’t ignore the pain, figuring it’s just part of the job. If you are feeling extreme discomfort, there are options for treatment that your podiatrist can help with.

You want to take care of foot pain because if it goes untreated, often muscles above the feet, in the lower legs, thighs, hips, and even lower back may be recruited to help ease the burden the feet can no longer carry.

How Do Podiatrists Help with Flat Feet?

“There is no reason to have foot pain of any kind, and podiatrists are the experts in evaluating the feet from a mechanical standpoint and making recommendations for shoes and inserts that often completely eliminate the discomfort,” says Dr. Devall.

Podiatrist can:

  1. Evaluate your feet
  2. Outline a treatment plan based on prevention that fits your lifestyle
  3. Determine if there are any physical activities that you may want to avoid
  4. Help you determine the best insole fit for you to help alleviate discomfort
  5. Check back with you and be there for future questions about your feet

To help you navigate through the several hundred different shoe inserts or insoles, consider talking to your podiatrist. The price can vary, from less than five dollars to over 50, and you may not know which ones you need.

“We have at our disposal several types of insoles that we carry in our clinic or recommend at local outsourced businesses that are only available to the trade that are quite remarkably effective in eliminating foot pain due to a flat foot structure,” says Dr. Devall.

About the author

Jill Taylor
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I contribute content and skills as a freelance writer for Baylor Scott & White Health. I enjoy improving our connection with our readers, patients and communities by assisting with a wide range of writing projects.

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Figuring out flat feet