THE TALE OF TWO FEET – PART 2
1/11/2016 by Brian K. Gesik, PT, MTC
“THE FLAT FOOT”
- When you walk on the beach, you leave the impression in the sand of your entire foot
- The arch of your foot touches the ground when standing
- Your big toe is getting crooked and crowding your second toe
- Somehow you keep having to buy bigger shoes because your foot is getting wider
- You have pain on the bottom of your foot along the arch and heel
- Your feet get sore while going barefoot and putting on that comfy pair of running shoes or supportive slippers feels so good
…then congrats you have flat feet!
Generally speaking, the flat foot is an anatomical indicator of greater flexibility throughout the entire musculoskeletal system. While flexibility is a good thing, over time, with distance walking, hiking, running or impact activities, the dense, fibrous tissue (plantar fascia) on the bottom of the foot becomes overstretched and strained causing onset of the painful condition known as plantar fasciitis. This overstretching also strains the supportive structures (posterior tibialis/anterior tibialis) of the foot and ankle with subsequent onset of painful shin splints.
Another common problem with flat feet is the development of a painful bunion (hallux valgus) where the big toe crowds and may overlap the second toe. This condition decreases the ability of the big toe to push off while walking, hiking, running and jumping. As we age and with increased mileage on the feet, the bunion can become arthritic leading to further joint damage and pain. As the foot gets flatter and wider, it strains the heads of the long bones of the foot (metatarsals) under the ball of the foot, creating the painful condition known as metatarsalgia or metatarsal overload syndrome. People with flat feet are also more prone to rolling or spraining their ankles because of their increased flexibility. This type of ankle sprain tends to reoccur with running, jumping, and sports activities limiting performance and causing ongoing injury.
Foot and ankle pronation with flat feet also cause problems upstream with the knee. As the foot and ankle roll inward, it takes the knee with it (genu valgus) creating strain to the inside of the knee and adding to knee cap (patellar) malalignment and tracking problems known to cause knee pain and inflammation.
If you have flat feet don’t despair, the Therapists at MCOPT can help you!
We will identify and treat painful pressure points in your calf and Achilles tendon, in the ligaments of your ankle, and the bottom of your foot in the plantar fascia. We also use hands-on-techniques to mobilize any stiff joints in the heel (rear foot), midfoot, forefoot, big toe, and ankle to restore proper foot and ankle mechanics necessary to efficiently absorb and transmit shock during impact activities thus eliminating the cause of ongoing foot and ankle pain.
Instruction in a home exercise program emphasizing in proprioceptive (balancing) exercises, stretching of the tight calf and Achilles tendon will be given for you to participate in your recovery.
Proper shoe wear is imperative to support the flat foot with standing, walking, hiking, running, jumping, and sports related activities. Generally speaking, the flat foot does much better with a more stable, pronation control or stability type of running shoe. Referral for custom foot/ankle orthotics (shoe insoles), in combination with our hands-on treatment can further eliminate increased strain to the foot and ankle with impact activities and facilitate your return to full activity levels.
Activity modification during the painful phase is essential to eliminate further strain secondary to excessive impact forces. Utilizing cross training methods including cycling, swimming, water aerobics and elliptical type exercise will allow you to stay active during the recovery phase while avoiding additional injury. Once the pain stabilizes, you will be instructed in a comprehensive program to safely return you to full activity levels including distance walking, hiking running and jumping sports like basketball and volleyball.
If you’re sore, achy, flat feet and chronically sprained ankles are keeping you from doing the activities that you love, then come see the Therapists at MCOPT. “You can get better and stay better.”