Flat feet can have many causes, from genetics to age to extra body weight. Some people experience no pain or other issues, but for many people, flat feet can be life-limiting. Here is what you should know.
What Are Flat Feet?
Flat feet occur when the arches of the feet collapse. The arches provide flexibility and shock absorbency as you walk or run. They distribute weight throughout the foot and help to balance the entire body. When the arches collapse, the rest of the body is forced to compensate. This puts tremendous stress on the feet, knees, and back, often leading to pain and swelling.
Should I See A Doctor?
Although it is never a bad idea to see a medical doctor for any medical condition, a physical therapist is an excellent option for problems related to flat feet. If your arches have recently dropped, you experience pain in your feet, ankles, legs, or lower back, or your feet feel stiff and heavy, a physical therapist can diagnose and treat your flat feet.
What Happens if I Ignore My Flat Feet?
Over time, you could develop worsening problems. Your balance will likely be affected, and it will become more and more difficult to walk, run, or stand. You may develop pain in the muscles, tendons, and joints throughout your body, and you will be at elevated risk for conditions such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, and hammer toes. If you are an athlete, your risk for shin splints and even fractures will increase.
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
We will carefully assess your feet, ankles, legs, and back for strength, range of motion, and functionality, and then develop a customized treatment plan to help your body compensate for the lack of arches. You will perform in-office and at-home exercises designed to lengthen and strengthen your muscles, and learn new ways of walking that provide better balance and support. We may also recommend new footwear with better arch support, cold therapy for inflammation, and perhaps an ankle brace to wear during the healing process.
The arches cannot be rebuilt, except through major surgery. However, physical therapy can help your body adapt to your flat feet and minimize the effects that they have on your life. With a bit of hard work and a commitment to keeping your feet and legs in shape, there is no reason to suffer.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are ready for the latest physical therapy treatments for your pain or injury, contact Manhattan Physical Therapy and Pain Center today at (212) 213-3480 to learn how we can help.