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What are Flat Feet?

In a standing position, we should have a natural arch of the foot. The height of the arch will however vary from person to person. If you do have a very low arch or no arch at all, it is referred to as flat feet, fallen arches or overpronated feet. Having this foot shape does not mean you will encounter problems; however, it can be linked to pains in the feet, ankles, knees, hips and back due to the overstraining of the ligaments and muscles.


Symptoms depend on the severity of your condition. Often people find that their foot is rolling inwards (known as overpronation). Common sites of pain are; the inside of the ankle, the arch and heel of the foot, calf, knee, hip and lower back.


Often flat feet run in families. You may find that there is an arch present when sitting but when standing the arch may completely flatten and make the leg feel like it is rolling inwards. A number of things can cause the feet to flatten in later life; injury, arthritis, a ruptured tendon and diseases of the nervous system.

What Should I Do?

If there is no pain present with your condition it is not necessary to do anything. If pain occurs during activity, such as sport, or is a part of everyday life, certain treatment options are available. An assessment with your podiatrist is necessary to identify the severity of the condition and the appropriate treatment for you.

What Shouldn’t I Do?

Higher levels of activity often make this condition worse, for example running on hard ground. Continuing with this activity can put excessive stress on ligaments, tendons and muscles and should, therefore, be avoided until treatment has been sought. Various footwear such as high heels should be avoided as these place further strain on the foot.

Long Term Effects

Depending on the severity of your flat feet, various other complaints can develop in both the feet and legs if painful flat feet are left untreated. Flat feet can cause an inefficient style of walking and running which can overstrain ligaments and muscles. If this is repeated over a number of years, tears in these structures may occur.


Wearing supportive well-fitted shoes can alleviate aching in the arch of the foot, however this may not be adequate for your condition. You may require an insole or orthotic, these are worn in the shoe to support your foot, preventing them from collapsing in (overpronating). Your podiatrist will carry out a detailed assessment of your feet to determine which type of orthotic or insole is best for you.

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Everything You Need To Know About Flat Feet