A person has flat feet when the arches are missing, meaning the entire insides of the feet touch the surface on which the soles are placed. The arches provide support for your feet while you are standing or walking. All babies are born with flat feet and only begin developing their arches after age three. Flat feet can be either flexible---caused by lax tendons---or rigid---caused by abnormal foot development. While arches are important, flat feet are a common and often painless condition. Attempt to correct flat feet only if you experience pain.
- Skill level:
Determine what causes your flat feet before attempting to correct them. If you experience discomfort in your feet only after playing sports, you likely have flexible flat feet. Visit a doctor if you experience continuous pain in your heels or arches, the insides of your ankles swell, you cannot stand on tiptoe or your feet tire easily. Surgery may be necessary to correct rigid flat feet.
Consider using better-fitting shoes or arch supports in your shoes to alleviate flat feet. Purchase arch supports over the counter or find a doctor who can custom-design them according to the contours of your feet. "Shoe inserts won't cure flatfeet, but they often reduce the symptoms associated with the disorder," according to the Mayo Clinic.
Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication and ice the painful areas to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Rest the foot until it feels better and stretch the Achilles tendon if your flat feet are caused by a shortened Achilles tendon. See a physical therapist for additional corrective exercises.
Lose weight. "Rigid flatfoot can develop among adults 40 years of age and older who are sedentary and overweight," explains the Cleveland Clinic.
Consider surgical correction if all conservative treatments fail.
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