A Chiropractor’s main speciality is the spine but as you can imagine, the feet as well as other extremities all have an effect on what occurs at the spine. We therefore have a in-depth knowledge of the extremities to make sure we can determine the exact route of the problem.
To explain how the above titled terms are used medically all you need to remember is that: “flat feet (also known as collapsed/fallen arches) is what causes over pronation (the correct term is pes planus)“. Flat feet, collapsed or fallen arches refer to the arch of the foot whereas overpronation and pes planus refer to how the ankle appears and moves under pressure, therefore occurring as a result of the flat feet.
However for the sake of simplicity I will only use the term ‘flat feet’ throughout this post.
How did I get flat feet? ‘Flat feet’ can occur for a variety of reasons in the human foot, whether it be aging, a tibialis posterior tendon tear, ligament laxity, genetic, trauma, diabetes or arthritis.
If you have no pathological or traumatic reason for your flat feet and are still wondering why you have developed them, then take into consideration that the human body was not designed to wear soft soled shoes in the first place. Think about how your body may have adapted over time as a result of having this cushion under the foot preventing the foot from acting how it really should in the natural environment. Changes to the feet can occur as a shoe can dictate the flow of pressure through the foot during the gait cycle. Also consider how we as humans are now able to stride further whilst running as our heels are protected from the hard ground. The human body usually adapts to changes over thousands of years, not one lifetime!
How do I know if I have got flat feet? There are a few ways to identify if you have flat feet, the first way is to look at how you walk, does your heel strike the floor initially on the outside of your heel? When your foot leaves the floor does it leave off the inside of the front of the foot? Does your ankle roll in when you are walking or running? These are all signs that you may be flat-footed. A clear-cut test is to look at the inside arch of your foot, is it touching the floor or is it elevated? If you are unsure, place the finger tips of one hand palm up under the arch as far as you can. Now with your thumb, slide as far up to the foot along the fingers as you can. take your fingers out from under the arch once your thumb hits your foot. If your thumb has not passed the crease of your fingertips then this is a sign that your arch is ok while standing still, if your thumb is past this crease then it is likely you have flat feet.
However! This does not mean they won’t collapse under force! Some people’s arches only collapse when performing a sporting activity. When you consider then amount of force that is distributed into the feet during high impact activities you can understand how this can occur.
Treatment The treatment options vary somewhat. If you have had flat feet all your life or have developed it over time through compensatory changes elsewhere in the body, then there are two options that are likely to be given (Be aware that fallen arches in children is very common and is usually not a cause for concern as the arches in most occasions will develop as they grow.) The first treatment option for flat feet is retraining the arch in the foot back to full strength by performing an exercise known as the “small foot” exercise. The other option, which is the “quick fix solution” is to wear in-soles in your shoes which reintroduce the correct arch to your foot, this allows the rest of the body above to function as it should naturally. I myself wear arches and I also recommend them to patients that have the above problem. You can buy regular and sports orthotics from the Loinglevens Chiropractic & Sports Injury Clinic, on the internet, or you can visit a podiatrist who will make custom fit ones.
Conclusion There are a lot of problems that can occur in the lower limbs and back as a result of flat feet. Before buying anything, I would recommend that you see your chiropractor or podiatrist (if feet only) to determine the exact cause of the problem so that they can determine the problem and suggest a treatment plan that is appropriate to you and your body. Remember, “everyone is different“.