Flat Feet: When Arches Are Too Low

Your foot shape can make a difference in the way your lower limbs function. The “optimal” foot is shaped in such a way that it’s able to absorb the force of your body and participate in normal activities without pain. Many people, however, have feet with a slightly different shape, which can affect the function to some degree. One common example is flat feet or a pes planus foot structure.

Flattened Mid-foot

Flat feet can cause painful problems for your lower limbs. Your feet have an arch that connects your heel to your forefoot. This arch, where the tarsal bones meet the metatarsals, helps you both absorb shock and distribute your body weight evenly across the whole foot with each step. Some people, however, have very low arches. Because their mid-foot is not the optimal shape, their lower limbs do not distribute pressure and shock quite as efficiently.

This can create stress on connective tissues and your bones. Without support from an arch, your ankle may roll inward when you stand and walk. This adds additional pressure to your forefoot and ankle and may contribute to pain in the ball of the foot, the arch and the ankle. The extra pressure strains the plantar fascia band as well, increasing your risk for heel pain and bunions. You may develop pain along the arch, ankle, outside of the foot, and heel. Over time, the poor alignment from severely flat feet may actually lead to knee, back or hip problems as well.

Supporting the Arches

Not everyone’s flat feet cause painful foot problems. Having flat feet can adversely affect people with knee, hip, back or neck pain because of the loss of shock absorption associated with flat feet.  Or doctors will perform a gait analysis as well as a biomechanical evaluation to determine the cause of each patient’s pain and how best to treat it.

The types of shoes worn can most easily address the pain associated with flat feet. Wearing shoes that have sufficient arch support & cushioning can only help you walk and feel better.  Avoid styles with too-flat soles or high heels, as both of these can strain the arches instead of supporting them. You may need custom orthotics to help brace the foot if a shoe change is not enough. You may also need to modify your activities somewhat to reduce the length of time you spend standing or walking without rest. Physical therapy and stretching exercises may be used to strengthen your mid-foot, since stronger feet offer better support.

If you’re experiencing pain from your low arches, you don’t have to live with the discomfort. There are many options available to manage this common condition. Rather than suffering from uncomfortable feet and risking injuries later, seek help and take care of yourself. Contact Country Foot Care here in New York for more information or an appointment. You can reach either of our offices by calling us at during regular hours or you can use our online MAKE AN APPOINTMENT form by clicking on the button at the top of this page.