Rogers Foot & Ankle Institute

Flat Feet Treatment: Orthotics, Exercises, And More For Pain Relief

Jun 29, 2023
Flat Feet Treatment: Orthotics, Exercises, And More For Pain Relief
Imagine walking the length of a marathon with pebbles in your shoes or scaling the Empire State Building in ballet slippers. Sounds excruciating, right? That’s what life can feel like for those who suffer from flat feet.

Imagine walking the length of a marathon with pebbles in your shoes or scaling the Empire State Building in ballet slippers. Sounds excruciating, right? That’s what life can feel like for those who suffer from flat feet. With arches that have collapsed or never fully developed, every step taken could be a painful and frustrating experience. But fear not, for there is hope! 

In this post, we’ll navigate through various effective solutions to help you conquer the agony of flat feet and start walking on clouds!

Different Flat Feet Treatments

Flat feet, also known as fallen arches, can be quite bothersome and may cause aches and pains in the feet and legs. However, several treatment options can help relieve discomfort and promote better foot health. Treatment plans for flat feet are personalized based on the type and symptoms. They may include exercises, orthotics, braces, physical therapy, or surgery. In this section, we will discuss some of the different treatments available for flat feet.

One of the most common treatment options is physical therapy. A physical therapist can recommend specific exercises to reduce pain and strengthen the muscles around the flat feet. Strengthening exercises may focus on the calves, ankles, and arches of your feet. The objective is to increase flexibility and prevent flat feet from causing further damage to other parts of your body.

Another effective option is custom-made orthotics, which provide additional arch support when you’re standing, walking, or exercising. A healthcare professional takes measurements of your feet to design custom-made orthotics specifically for you. Orthotics work by redistributing pressure across your foot so that it is evenly distributed over your entire foot instead of only certain parts.

Some people experiment with over-the-counter arch supports before considering custom-made orthotics. Although this approach may work for some people with mild flat feet, it can be problematic for those with more severe conditions because they lack proper support and tend to break down much faster.

Custom Orthotics And Support

Custom orthotics are medical devices placed inside shoes to correct a patient’s foot placement while walking or playing sports. They are created from impressions taken from molds of an individual’s feet by a podiatrist or orthotist. Custom orthotics help improve foot and ankle alignment, making it easier for users to walk and exercise without pain.

Imagine that your feet are like a car’s suspension system, with the arches serving as shock absorbers. If the suspension is off-balance or misaligned, the car’s tires wear out faster, the ride is bumpier, and the driver has less control. The same is true of your feet, which can cause problems throughout the body if they aren’t properly aligned.

Studies have shown that custom orthotics can reduce foot pain by redistributing pressure across your entire foot. Orthotics also improve balance and mobility while decreasing overall fatigue in the foot and leg muscles. They may help to correct gait abnormalities caused by flat feet, thereby lowering the risk of falls, and preventing back pain and knee injuries.

Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening exercises are an effective way to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with flat feet. By building strength in the muscles that support the arch of the foot, you can improve your body alignment, reduce muscle fatigue, and prevent future injuries. Here are some exercises you can do on your own at home:

Towel Scrunch

Sit with your feet flat on the ground and a towel laid out in front of you. Use your toes to scrunch the towel toward you, curling it up under your feet. Repeat for 15 reps per foot.

Stair Heel Raises 

Put your heels off the edge of the step while you stand there. Slowly raise yourself onto your tiptoes, then lower back down. Repeat for 15 reps.

Toe Extension

Sit with your legs extended in front of you and loop a resistance band around the balls of your feet. Pull back with your toes against the band, flexing your foot. Release and repeat for 15 reps.

Towel Stretch

Sit with one leg extended straight in front of you and the opposite foot resting on a towel. Use the towel to gently pull your toes toward you, stretching out the arch of your foot. Hold for 30 seconds per foot.

Stork Stretch

Standing with one foot behind you and facing a wall. Lean forward, placing both hands on the wall for support, and bend your front knee until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle. Hold for 30 seconds per leg.

Factors In Choosing Treatments

Deciding on the best course of treatment for flat feet can be challenging, as there are various treatments available that may suit different individuals based on their level of pain and discomfort. The choice of which treatment to undertake ultimately depends on several factors. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing the best treatment option for flat feet:

Severity: The severity of your fallen arches may determine the type of treatment that is best suited for you. For those with mild to moderate cases, supportive shoes or over-the-counter shoe inserts might be sufficient. However, if your condition is severe and causes you a great deal of pain, then custom-made orthotics may be the most effective solution.

Diagnosis: Proper diagnosis is important in determining the most suitable treatment for flat feet. Podiatrists and foot and ankle specialists can diagnose whether your flat feet are flexible or rigid, acquired in adulthood, or congenital. This means they can recommend personalized treatment options that address specific aspects of your condition.

Symptoms: Flat feet can cause various symptoms, depending on their severity. Common symptoms include pain in the feet, ankles, shins, knees, hips, and lower back; loss of function; fatigue; and swelling in the feet or legs. When considering the best course of treatment, it is essential to take into account how much pain and discomfort you are experiencing, as well as any other symptoms present. Some people have no symptoms at all despite having flat feet, while others require more aggressive interventions.

Lifestyle: Your occupation and lifestyle can impact the choice of flat foot treatment that best suits you. Consider a construction worker who spends most of their day standing or walking around compared to a sedentary office professional who sits most of their day. The nature of one’s work will influence the need for custom orthotics compared to supportive shoes or other alternatives. Similarly, an active person who regularly participates in sports may find exercises that strengthen their feet and ankles to be more beneficial than custom-made orthotics.

Success And Expectations

Success with flat foot treatment varies depending on several factors unique to each individual. While some people may experience immediate relief and others may require long-term management, one thing is certain: managing fallen arches can significantly improve your quality of life, reduce pain and discomfort, and decrease the risk of further complications like arthritis. Here are some possible outcomes when seeking flat foot treatment:

Pain Reduction: The goal of treatment for flat feet is to reduce or eliminate the pain associated with the condition. Custom-made orthotics, along with exercises tailored to strengthen muscles and tendons around the foot arch, can help alleviate pain.

Improved Functionality: By addressing flat foot concerns head-on, patients can improve functionality in their lower extremities. The use of supportive footwear that offers arch support and customized inserts can enhance comfort levels while walking or standing for extended periods.

Realistic Expectations: It is important to have realistic expectations regarding your treatment outcomes. Factors that affect outcomes include the severity of your condition, adherence to recommended lifestyle changes (stretching or exercising regularly), existing medical conditions, age, overall health status, and a willingness to embrace change.

Trial and Error: Determining what works best for you in treating fallen arches can be a matter of trial and error. Personalized treatment plans often involve trying different combinations of therapies before finding one that proves most effective for your unique needs.

Tips For Managing Flat Feet Pain

If you suffer from flat feet, you know the discomfort and pain it can bring. However, with proper management, pain relief is possible. Here are some tips to help manage your flat foot pain:

Wear supportive shoes. One of the simplest things you can do to manage flat foot pain is to invest in a good pair of shoes that provide arch support. Shoes with raised heels, padded soles, or specific arch support can help relieve some of your pain.

Use custom orthotics. Custom-made orthotics can provide additional support and cushioning, reducing the pressure on your feet. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, custom orthotics can improve alignment and promote efficient movement of your foot and leg.

Practice stretching exercises. Regularly performing stretching exercises helps keep the muscles and ligaments around the arch flexible, improving joint mobility and alleviating some of the pain.

Think about your weight. Carrying excess body weight puts additional stress on your lower limbs and exacerbates flat foot conditions, leading to more issues down the road. Just like every additional pound of weight has four times more impact on your lower extremities while walking or running, every gain in BMI increases those forces placed on our joints over time.

Seek professional help. Consulting a healthcare professional is essential when managing flat foot pain. An evaluation will help determine what type of treatment options best suit you. Over-the-counter medication may ease the pain temporarily. However, consulting a qualified physician can help address the root cause of the condition, promoting long-term relief solutions.

In conclusion, following the above tips and seeking professional help can help alleviate flat foot pain and promote a better quality of life. If pain persists, it is essential to consult your podiatrist or healthcare professional for guidance on more aggressive treatment options. With proper care, you can manage your flat foot condition and lead an active, pain-free lifestyle.

Contact The Trusted Podiatrist In Saratoga Springs, UT 

Do you want to improve your comfort and reduce the pain caused by flat feet? The foot and ankle specialists at Rogers Foot & Ankle Institute are here to provide you with the best possible treatment in Saratoga Springs, UT. Our skilled physicians carefully examine the mechanics of your feet when diagnosing flat feet, which allows them to observe them from different angles and positions. 

You can be confident that the team at Rogers Foot & Ankle Institute will give you personalized care and attention throughout your diagnosis and treatment process, helping you regain your mobility and comfort. Contact us at 801-756-4200 to schedule an appointment with our foot and ankle experts to discuss your flat feet and find the appropriate treatment plan.