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Flat Feet

Rather than a true diagnosis ‘flat-feet’ is actually more of an observation.  A more accurate description would be that the when the individual is standing their feet are in a pronated or ‘rolled in’ position such that the in-step of the foot is lowered to the ground, hence the term ‘flat-feet’. 

This type of foot is not necessarily abnormal. To determine whether this foot type is a problem you need to consider how the feet move when the individual walks rather than just their position when standing stationary. If this ‘flat-foot’ over-pronates significantly whilst walking or running various lower limb injuries and musculoskeletal complaints can develop due to the increased stress this in turn places on tissues of both the foot and lower limb.

Feet can adopt this pronated or flattened position for many different reasons.  It may develop as a compensation for variations in shape and structure or the lower limb such as a leg length discrepancy or of the foot itself such as a rearfoot varus or forefoot supinatus.

It may well be there is an element of underlying hyper-mobility resulting in an inability of the foot to maintain good structural integrity under body weight, or possibly a muscle dysfunction which causes the foot to behave in an abnormal way.

The basic principle is to identify the underlying cause in order to decide upon the most appropriate intervention, whether that be physiotherapy or osteopathy to manage any muscle dysfunction, running shoe advice and/or orthotic device.

Feet which are allowed to continue functioning in this position are high risk for many lower limb injuries such as patello-femoral pain syndrome, and ‘shin splints’, particularly during high impact or sporting activity.