Flatfoot

A flatfoot means that the bottom of your foot does not have an arch. This condition can occur in one foot or both. Flatfeet can be an inherited condition or due to injury, being very overweight, or an underlying condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, or diabetes.

Flatfoot can occur in children but should not be a concern until after the age of 5. Most children are flat-footed until they are between the ages of 3-5. If your child’s feet are flat after that time, it may mean that your child has inherited flatfeet.

Flatfoot usually is not a serious problem. Some people do have pain if they gain weight or stand a lot. You can also experience pain when walking or running. You or your child can do exercises and wear pads and roomy shoes to help support the feet.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Wear shoes with good arch support and lots of room in the toes.
  • Put heel padding (called a heel cup) or inserts (called orthoses) in your shoes to raise the hell. Orthotics are molded pieces of rubber, leather, or other material that can help cushion and balance your feet.
  • Try these exercises to stretch your feet and make them stronger, if your doctor says it is okay.
    • Stretch your calf muscles: Stand about 1 foot from the wall and place the palms of both hands against the wall at chest level. Step back with one foot. Keep that leg straight at the knee, and keep both feet flat on the floor. Your feet should point at the wall to slightly toward the center of your body. Bend your front leg at the knee, and press the wall with both hands until you feel a gentle stretch in your back leg. Hold for at least 15 seconds. Increase to 30 seconds over time. Switch legs and repeat. Do this 2 to 4 times a day.
    • Stretch your feet: Sit on the floor or a mat with your feet stretched in front of you. Roll up a towel lengthwise and loop it around the ball of one foot. Hold one end of the towel in each hand and gently pull the towel toward your body. Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat with the other foot. Do this 2 to 4 times a day.
    • Make your feet stronger: Place a towel on the floor. Sit in a chair in front of the towel with both feet flat on the towel at one end. Grip the towel with the toes of one foot while keeping the heel of that foot on the floor. (Use the other foot to anchor the towel) Curl your toes to pull the towel toward you. Repeat with the other foot. Do this 2 to 4 times per day.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen to reduce pain if your feet or legs hurt. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Try heat or massage on the area that is causing you pain. Use a heating pad set on low or warm cloth. Put a thin cloth between the heating pad and your skin.
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