How Orthotics Help Flat Feet

If you have flat feet—and are experiencing problems as a result—we may prescribe a pair of custom orthotics as part of your treatment plan. Before we jump into discussing how orthotics help flat feet, let’s take a moment and look at why you may be experiencing pain and difficulty in the first place.

Foot arches are often taken for granted, but serve important functions. When we are simply standing up, the arches allow our feet to support the weight of the entire body with the least amount of force being placed upon them. Take a moment and think about the size of your feet, and then how much you weigh. If you’re an average-sized adult, that’s a lot of weight placed on a fairly small area. And this is just when we stand!

While walking—not even running—we place up to two times the weight of our body in force loads on the feet. (The amount of force is increased when we run and perform other high-impact activities.) Foot arches help to distribute the force loads in a fairly even manner, along with acting like a spring to keep feet moving forward.

Flat feet have low or (essentially) nonexistent arches. This means complications can arise.

Now, there are many cases of flat feet that do not cause problems. We can attribute this to the fact that not all flat feet are the same. They generally fall into one of two categories – flexible or rigid. If your flat feet are not causing pain or difficulty, they likely fall into the “flexible” camp. Rigid flat feet, on the other hand, are more frequently responsible for symptoms like heel pain, arch pain, and swelling on the inside of the ankles.

So how can orthotics help? Well, many of the problems from flat feet can be attributed to overpronation. Pronation is a completely natural inwards rolling motion each foot goes through during the ground portion of a step. It starts with the heel strike and continue until the final push off the ground.

The foot arch plays an instrumental role in pronation, and individuals who have low arches pronate excessively. This is where orthotics come into play.

Custom orthotics—not to be confused with shoe inserts bought off the shelf at retail stores—are used to correct faulty biomechanical processes (like overpronation). These medical devices are customized to work with your unique foot structure and gait pattern. By providing additional support to foot arches and restricting the pronation, orthotics can eliminate pain not only in the feet, but in the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back as well.

We prescribe orthotics to treat a range of foot and ankle problems (not just flat feet). To find out more about these valuable medical devices, or to request your appointment with Anderson Foot and Ankle, contact us online or call our Salt Lake City office at (801) 269-9939.

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