If you have mild to moderate symptoms from your flat feet, you may try some of the following techniques to see if they reduce your pain.
Choose Your Shoes Wisely
Shoes with good arch support are very important for people with flat arches. So if you have flat feet, you should either look for footwear with excellent built-in arch support, or footwear with enough depth to accommodate a pair or arch supports or custom orthotics.
(Our previous blog post covers why orthotics are so effective, as long as you seek our guidance in finding the right pair for your feet. Check it out!)
Some other shoe attributes to look for include:
- A firm (but not tight) fit around the heel.
- Lots of cushioning and thick soles to absorb impact forces.
- Plenty of wiggle room for toes (large toebox).
- A relatively firm shank that offers a little flexibility in the middle of the shoe—but not so much that you can easily twist it.
People with painful flat feet should avoid flip flops, ballet flats, and other types of shoes with little-to-no arch support. You can find sandals and even slippers with good arch support these days; your flip flops should only be worn if you’re out by the pool or using public locker room or shower facilities.
Try Wearing Your Shoes More Often
Even as some aspects of the stay-at-home orders have loosened, many of our patients are still spending a lot of time at home. Most of us don’t wear shoes indoors, but if you have painful flat feet and hard floors in your home, all that walking and standing around without the extra support your shoes provide can lead to increased pain.
So try wearing a good, comfy pair of supportive shoes or sandals for at least a few hours each day and see if that helps alleviate some of your discomfort.
Many people with flat feet also have issues with a shortened Achilles tendon or tight calf muscles. Stretching your feet and legs regularly throughout the day can help you keep those areas loose and flexible, and may reduce your pain.
Here are a few stretches you can try. Remember, you should “feel” the stretch, but stop immediately if it becomes painful.
- Place the balls of your feet on the edge of a bottom stair with your heels hanging over the edge. (Use a wall or railing for support.) Dip your heels slowly below the edge of the stair until you feel a good stretch. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then slowly rise back to level. Next, slowly stand up on your tiptoes and hold the stretch. Shoot for 8-10 sets, although it’s okay if you can’t do that many at first.
- Stand while placing your hands on a wall. Step back with one leg, keeping the knee straight, heels flat on the floor, and hips square. Lean forward and dip your hips a bit to feel the stretch in the calf and Achilles tendon of your back foot. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch sides.