Having flat feet, also referred to as flatfoot, is a condition where the bottom of the feet lack arches. Interestingly enough, all babies are born without arches on the bottom of their feet. Arches only develop later on during childhood, if at all. Some people never develop arches in their feet. Others may have arches that eventually fall at some point in their lives. Fallen arches can occur with old age, injury, pregnancy and weight gain.
Having flat feet might not affect some people, but plenty of others report experiencing pain and an affected gait. If you’re someone who has flat feet or fallen arches and they’re causing you pain, you might be interested in knowing that physical therapy can help.
What are the symptoms of flat feet?
Many people who have flat feet don’t experience any bothersome symptoms. However, there are some who do experience the symptoms associated with having flat feet, such as:
- Pain — Flat feet can cause pain in the heels. It can also cause pain in the middle of the feet, where the arch is typically located. Some people report worsening pain when they walk, run or use their feet in any type of physical activity. Pain can occur in the muscles of the feet, the ankles and even in parts of the legs.
- Swelling — Another common sign of flat feet is swelling in the area where the arch is typically located. If you notice that the middle of your foot is becoming puffy and looks larger than it normally appears, this could be a sign of swelling from flat feet.
- Gait changes — The pain that sometimes accompanies flat feet can cause a person to develop changes in the way they walk. These changes can have a domino effect on the rest of the body and cause subsequent physical problems.
What are some general treatment options for people with flat feet?
- Orthotics — Orthotics, or shoe inserts, are a type of supportive device that can be placed inside a shoe to support the foot and act as an artificial device. Wearing orthotics can alleviate pain during walking, running and other physical activities. This type of treatment won’t fix the issue of flat feet, but rather will make the symptoms of this condition more manageable.
- Surgery — Surgery is an option for patients who experience persistent pain from having flat feet. This option is typically made available for those who don’t respond to the more conservative treatment options. It can be helpful for some to get surgery on their flat feet, but it also presents a risk of complications.
- Physical therapy — Physical therapy is a great option for those looking to get flat feet treatment. This option can help people build increased muscle strength in their feet and support their tendons and ligaments to avoid further injury and pain. Physical therapy can also help those who have developed related physical problems or an affected gait as a result of flat feet.
How are flat feet treated in physical therapy?
- Arch stretches — Stretching exercises are a common method used to treat flat feet during physical therapy. These can be performed by holding your heel and pulling your toes in the direction of your body simultaneously, to stretch your arch.
- Arch curls — Arch curls are done by placing a towel in the center of the bottom of your foot and bending or “curling” your foot around the towel.
- Arch rolls — Arch rolls are performed by placing your foot on top of a tennis ball and rolling it around, targeting the center of your foot.
These are just a few of the exercises a physical therapist can walk you through to help you address your flat feet symptoms.
Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch physical therapy for flat feet
At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need.
Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address physical therapy for flat feet.
Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform.
Come find help for your injury or chronic condition today!