"Flat feet" is a condition in which the middle part of the foot has little or no arch, causing the entire foot to touch the floor when you stand. Flat feet can begin in childhood or develop later in life because of rheumatoid arthritis, injury or obesity. Twenty per cent of American adults have the condition as of 2010, according to The University of Maryland Medical Center. Poor arches in your feet may cause no complications, but sometimes can lead to pain, weakness and imbalance. Restoring and supporting existing arches in your feet can therefore improve balance.
- Skill level:
Get fitted for orthotics. Custom orthotics can help absorb shock and improve the alignment of your feet, thereby increasing balance. Prefabricated orthotics available in stores may be of some benefit, but custom orthotics is more effective.
Lose weight, especially if your flat feet developed later in life because of obesity. Less weight bearing down on your feet can help naturally restore the arches, improving balance.
Stretch and tone the muscles of your feet, which can help restore arches, thereby improving balance. Point and flex your feet, do ankle circles in both directions, and practice picking up marbles with your toes. Rolling the bottom of each foot over a tennis ball can help break up tension in your feet.
Wear supportive shoes. Proper support for what little arches your feet may have is important in preventing imbalances between the bones, muscles and ligaments of your feet.
Tips and warnings
- Most children will develop foot arches by the age of 10.
- Flat feet sometimes develop in pregnancy.
- Avoid walking on uneven surfaces such as golf courses until your condition improves.
- Consider foot surgery to restore arches if all else fails.
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- Hospital for Special Surgery: Prescription Orthotics Can Help You Put Your Best Foot Forward
- Upstate Medical University: Flat Feet (Pes Planus)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Orthopaedics: Pediatric Orthopaedics Program
- HealthAndYoga.com: Flat Feet and Yoga
- Sun and Moon Yoga Studio: Yoga for the Feet