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Dr. Sisson / April 17th, 2023
If you have fallen arches, you may wonder:
Can you really fix flat feet without surgery? The answer is that it depends.
There are two different types of flat feet, so how do know which kind you can fix and which kind you can't?
There two general categories of flat feet:
Structural flat foot
In a structural flat foot, the bones of your arch never formed.
Therefore, you were born with a flat foot, and it just never formed as you were developing and as you went through your life.
Functional Flat Feet (Fallen Arches)
Flat feet that develop during adulthood are sometime referred to as fallen arches. In this case, your ache does form during development, but your arch drops over time.
In a functional flat foot, you have an arch in your foot when you don't have weight on your foot but when you step down on it your arch "falls". This is often due to overpronation of your foot.
Flat Foot Vs. Normal Foot
If you take a step on the ground, you'll see that your foot just basically makes a blob.
There's no arch in your footprint as compared to a normal footprint.
How To Fix Flat Feet
First of all, what you want to find the proper alignment for your foot.
To do that, put your foot on the floor and go all the way into pronation.
Go inwards as far as you can, make your foot actually as flat as you can possibly make it. Your knee will go inwards as you're doing that.
Then go all the way the other direction, go as far into supination where your foot comes up this way and your knee goes out.
Then find a mid-range that's halfway between all the way in and all the way out.
When you find that, your knee should be roughly in line with your foot.
When doing this, you may notice that your big toe is up off the floor.
It helps to kind of curl your toes to support that arch of your foot so that you don't flatten out too much as you're walking and running and going about your day.
So, that's one good thing to do is to strengthen those toe flexor muscles and your foot muscles that sit deep up in your arch.
These muscles help support your foot arch dynamically with your muscles. However, doing that all day long can get tiring. That's where having either an insole or a custom orthotic can help.
If you do have where your big toe is up off the floor, it does help to have something that kind of goes all the way up into the forefoot and supports underneath that big toe.
The bad news about that is that a lot of the off-the-shelf orthotics that you get, they just kind of control your rear foot, your heel, and the midfoot, and you don't go all the way out into the toe.
In that case, you may need a custom orthotic.