The arch in a person’s foot works as a shock absorber, taking some of the force off of your legs each time you step down. The arch also helps your foot maintain a position that keeps your ankles, knees and hips in alignment. When the arch fails, stress is applied to your lower body that can translate into back pain. Here his why your arch is so important and how to correct it when it stops supporting you.
The Power of the Arch
A large tendon connects your calf muscle to the bones in your foot. This and other tendons situated in the bottom of your foot pull together to create the familiar cup shape that is your arch. The shape causes your feet to rotate in at the ankle and roll out slightly. The shape creates an area that works like a spring each time you take a step. It also spreads out the forces on your ankles, knees and hips to reduce the stress on any one area.
When bone, muscle or tendon problems cause the arches to fail, your feet rotate out, roll in and settle onto the floor. This puts stress on your ankles, knees and hips. Each step delivers the full force through your legs and up into the lower back. If not corrected you can have pain in your ankles, knees, hips and lower back.
Causes of Flat Feet
Also called fallen arches, flat feet can be caused by a number of factors:
- genetically weak muscles and tendons that can’t hold the arch in place
- sudden injury to the bones and tendons that hold the arch
- overstretched tendons in the foot from work or sports activities
- weight gain beyond the ability of the tendons to hold the arch
Treatment of Flat Feet
A foot specialist from a clinic like Foundation Chiropody Podiatrist will determine the cause of your flat feet and how severe it is affecting your body’s alignment. They can then recommend a variety of treatment options to give your body more support.
- Physical Therapy – Exercises to make the muscles stronger in your foot may allow them to do a better job of holding the shape of your arch.
- Shoe Inserts – Custom orthotics fit into your shoes to create an artificial arch. These may be used to permanently simulate the arch or to support your foot while other treatment is changing the shape of your arch.
- Ankle Support – In some cases, a brace can be used to align your ankle correctly and take the stress off of your knees, hips and back.
If these non-invasive treatments fail to give you relief, a number of surgical options are available:
- Fusion of bones in the foot – This is done to artificially create an arch in your foot. You won’t have the shock absorber benefit from this procedure, but your ankles, knees and hips will be in better alignment.
- Tendon Repositioning – The foot surgeon can move the attachment point of the tendons on the bones in your feet to create more leverage to hold the arch in place.
- Bone Reshaping – The surgeon can also shave off small fragments of bone and use bone grafts in other areas to create a more stable arch.