A person with flat feet (fallen arches) has low arches or no arches at all. Most cases don’t cause problems and treatment isn’t usually needed.
Do I have flat feet?
Flat feet are easy to identify while standing or walking. When someone with flat feet stands, their inner foot or arch flattens and their foot may roll over to the inner side. This is known as overpronation.
We assess your feet by looking at the way you stand and walk, and by scanning each foot on two digital machines, which produce an accurate profile of your feet.
Causes of flat feet
Having low or no arches is normal for some people. In these cases, flat feet are usually inherited and the feet are fairly flexible.
Flat feet that develop in later life can be caused by a condition that affects the joints, such as arthritis, or an injury to a muscle, tendon or joint in the foot. Adult-acquired flat feet often affect women over 40 years of age. It often goes undiagnosed and develops when the tendon that supports the foot arch gradually stretches over time.
It’s not fully understood what causes the tendon to become stretched, but some experts believe that wearing high heels and standing or walking for long periods may play a part. Obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes are all risk factors.
Flat feet can put a strain on your muscles and ligaments (ligaments link two bones together at a joint). This may cause pain in your legs when you walk. If you have flat feet, you may experience pain in any of the following areas:
- the inside of your ankle
- the arch of your foot
- the outer side of your foot
- the calf
- the knee, hip or back
Some people with flat feet find that their weight is distributed unevenly, particularly if their foot rolls inwards too much (overpronates). If your foot overpronates, your shoes are likely to wear out quickly. Overpronation can also damage your ankle joint and Achilles tendon (the large tendon at the back of your ankle).
Aching feet can often be relieved by wearing supportive shoes that fit properly. You may need to wear shoes that are wider than normal.
If your feet overpronate, you may need to wear a special insole (an orthotic) inside your shoes to stop your feet rolling inwards when you walk or run.
Our experienced consultants will assess your feet and recommend orthotics, inserts and footwear to align and support your feet in order to redistribute your weight correctly.