Do Orthotics Really Work for Flat Feet? – Pros & Cons

Do orthotics really work for flat feet? How to find the best orthotic for yourself? Which foot orthotics are best for my flat feet? These are some of the most common questions asked by people with flat feet.

If you have flat feet, you might have been suggested tons of time to get yourself customized orthotics. But most people are confused about it if the orthotics really work or not. Well, here in this article we are going to share with you all the details regarding orthotics.

Flat feet is a condition under which one or both feet lose the arches. It is also referred to as feet pronation. If you have flat feet with no negative symptoms, there is a chance for you to go through life without any major issues.

However, if you have foot or knee pain caused by flat feet, you need to do something about it else the things are going to be worse.

Who needs orthotics?

As we mentioned earlier, there could be two possible conditions of flat feet, one with no prominent symptoms, while the other has multiple negative symptoms.

Most people with flat feet find it comfortable to live with the condition. But there are rare cases where flat feet could be a nightmare for many. Flat feet can induce severe foot or ankle pain that leads to knee pain as well.

Moreover, it can also cause difficulty in standing or walking properly. At this point when your daily life activities are getting affected, the customized orthotics are the best option for you. (But it is highly suggested to go for physical therapy or stretching exercising in addition to getting foot orthotics)

However, if you’re not experiencing any pain or disturbance due to your flat feet, then there is no need to go for foot orthotics. In this condition, it’s better to do exercises and stretch for flat feet to strengthen the arch muscles.

Read our guide on how to strengthen flat feet without any professional help.

Are orthotics effective?

The short and simple answer is yes, orthotics are much effective for flat feet. However, if you’re considering them as the ultimate treatment for flat feet, you’re totally mistaken.

Orthotics work when you’re wearing shoes and obviously you can’t wear shoes 24/7. These support insoles can help you minimize the stress on your feet. Moreover, these can also assist you waling or standing for long periods of time.

If you’re a runner, custom made orthotics could be the best temporary solution. Just get yourself orthotics according to your condition and use them whenever you’re taking part in some race or sport.

Orthotics lessen the stress on your feet hence minimize the pain when you’re walking or standing.

Pain caused by flat feet cannot be permanently healed with orthotics. For that, you may need to consult a podiatrist or do stretching exercises on regular basis. This will not only strengthen your foot muscles but also minimize the pain.

How do orthotics work?

Orthotics are custom made insoles that are inserted inside your shoes. When you wear shoes, these insoles provide you with better stability and support. These insoles help your feet in maintaining the fallen arches and keeping the feet steady.

The doctor or podiatrist helps you find the best orthotics according to your needs. No other person with flat feet can use the same orthotics as yours because these are totally customized.

Moreover, orthotics are usually recommended in addition to other therapies. The doctor could prescribe you some anti-inflammatory drugs or may suggest you get physical therapy along with trying out orthotics.  

Causes of flat feet

Two major causes or conditions that lead to flat feet. These conditions are based on muscle tone.

Low muscle tone

In this condition, the ligaments are too stretchy and flexible that allow the bones and muscles to move more than the normal range, i.e. Ehlers–Danlos syndrome.

High muscle tone

In this condition, the Achilles tendon is shorter than the normal length that caused more rigid stretching.

All of the below mentioned causes lie in one of these two conditions.

Obesity

According to research, obesity is one of the most common causes of adult-acquired flat feet. As the body gain weight, the pressure on the feet increases. This increased pressure can cause the arch to collapse, ultimately leading to flat feet.

The arches are responsible for bearing body weight and also act as shock absorbers. When the strain increases on arches, they can collapse.

Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction

PTTD is a medical condition that affects one of the most crucial tendons of the foot; the posterior tibial tendon. That’s from where its name is generated. If a person has flat feet caused by PTTD, he/she may feel pain in the foot or along the back calf.

The tendons present in the foot are mainly responsible for supporting the arch. If the tendons are torn or get injured, it can lead to a collapsed arch. This way, the person can acquire flat feet that is painful, especially when walking or standing.

Diabetes

The next major cause of flat feet in adults is diabetes. Most people are aware of what diabetes is and how it can affect your body. A person who is diabetic has a higher chance of developing foot problems and infections.

People with diabetes usually have less feeling or sensation in their feet, making the condition worse because they’re unable to sense the problem at the initial stage. This complexity can cause chronic bone damage and even lead to a severely deformed foot that may need surgery.

Hereditary

Genetics plays a highly crucial role in physical development. Most of the medical conditions present today have a genetic aspect related to them. Flat feet, too, is one of the most common medical conditions that is caused by genetics.

The most common genetic conditions related to flat feet include:

  •         Calcaneovalgus (excessively bent up calf bone)
  •         Dyspraxia (a developmental condition that slows down the physical development in infants)
  •         Congenital vertical talus (congenital flat foot)
  •         Hypermobility (abnormally increased joint mobility)
  •         Ehlers –Danlos syndrome (joint hypermobility, abnormally elastic skin and fragile tissues)
  •         Tarsal Coalitions (fused foot bones)

Injury

Injuries are one of the common causes that lead to physical disabilities. Flat feet can also be caused by injury, regardless of how major or minor it is. If the injury affects the tendons in your foot, there are higher chances of the arch collapsing.

Lisfranc injury is the kind of injury that affects the middle of the foot. This is highly painful and can cause serious trouble for the bearer.

Apart from injuries, a severe workout can also cause flat feet. That is why sportsmen and athletes have a higher rate of flat feet than other people

Pregnancy

Women gain weight during pregnancy, which is the sole reason why most women experience flat feet during pregnancy. However, this condition is temporary and the flat feet come back to their original shape once the delivery is carried out.

Flat feet during pregnancy can be hurtful for many as the strain on the feet increases. Foot massage is the best remedy to relieve the temporary pain and to lessen the strain.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis is one of the painful body conditions and people who have experienced it, know it very well. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the types of arthritis that can cause flat feet. In this arthritis, the cartilage becomes inflamed and causes the foot to lose its arch.

Rheumatoid is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and inflames the joints, especially the foot joints.

Ageing

Ageing is another factor leading to flat feet. As the body grows older, its connective tissues lose flexibility. This too can lead to a flattened arch. Moreover, the tendons supporting the arch can also become weak as the person grows older. Both of these conditions ultimately lead to flat feet.

Marfan’s syndrome

Marfan’s syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissues. It is usually diagnosed in the late 30s as the body starts to grow older.

Leg length inequality

Last but not least is this condition in which one leg is bigger than the other one. This can cause the longer leg to put more pressure on the foot to compensate for the inequality. This way, one foot can become flattened while the other remains normal.

Bottom line

Before getting yourself orthotics for flat feet, it’s better to find the cause for it. Discuss it thoroughly with your doctor to get the best possible treatment for yourself. But you need to keep in mind that orthotics are not for everyone. If you’re having severe foot conditions, your doctor could suggest other possible ways to help lessen the effects.

4+ Sources:

You can ensure the accuracy of our information and content by clicking on the added sources. We adhere to strict sourcing guidelines related to medical associations and statistical research. Ensuring avoidance of data that could be misleading as to any matter of fact is our priority.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449819/
  2. https://www.verywellhealth.com/flat-feet-causes-and-associated-medical-problems-1337682
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15961-adult-acquired-flatfoot
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/bone-health/orthotics

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