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Edward S. Pozarny, DPM, FACFAS
Why Are Feet Flat?
Arlington Podiatry Center
. http://www.arlingtonpodiatrycenter.com/

Why Are Feet Flat?

Why Are Feet Flat?

The arch of your foot is its main supportive structure. If this arch loses strength, the bony framework begins to collapse, causing your foot to flatten. Like a sagging bridge, the weakness in the middle strains the joints at both ends of your foot.


Some people are born with flat feet. Flat feet can also be the result of arthritis, trauma, or musculoskeletal disorders. Overuse or repeated pounding on hard surfaces can also weaken the foot’s arch.


Discomfort from flat feet often doesn’t appear for years. At some point, pain may be felt and walking may become awkward as increasing strain is put on your feet and calves.

Related Problems

The excess strain from flat feet can cause other foot problems, such as hammertoes, bunions, heel spurs, arch strain, corns, neuromas and sagging joints. Flat feet can also affect other parts of the body, causing fatigue, pain, or stiffness in the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back.

Medical History and Physical Exam

To determine the best treatment, your podiatrist will do a complete medical history and examination of your feet. 

If your problem is severe, x-rays may be needed. If other problems are suspected MRI or CT may be done.

Treatment Methods

If diagnosed at an early age, chances are good that nonsurgical treatment, such as strapping, custom shoe inserts (orthotics), or medication can help.

Strapping: Taping your feet may help by temporarily maintaining the proper position of your feet.

Orthotics: Custom orthotics can readjust the weight bearing position of your feet. Soft, semi-flexible, or rigid inserts may be used, depending on your weight and physical activity.

Medication: You may be given anti-inflammatory medication to temporarily relieve pain.


If your flat feet cause chronic pain, surgery may be needed to correct the alignment of the bones in your feet, or to support or reinforce the tendon structures in
your feet.

What Can I Do About Flat Feet?

To help ease the pain of flat feet, try the following as part of your daily routine. If your problems continue, be sure to see your podiatrist.

Stretching: To stretch your soles and tendons, try this: Lean on something stationary, with one leg in front of the other and both heels flat. Bend the front knee. Hold for 10 seconds. Bend your back knee, bringing the heel up. Hold for 10 seconds. Do this five times with each leg.

Shoes: Be sure your shoes are supportive and comfortable, with enough space in the toe box for toes to wiggle. Women should wear low-heels,
not pumps.

Soaking and Massage: Warm-water soaks or ice massages can help relieve pain. But if you have diabetes or a circulation problem, talk to your podiatrist first.

MD (301) 805-6805 | VA (703) 288-3130