If you're flat-footed, your feet are lacking the natural arch that most people's feet have, causing you to stand with your feet completely flat on the ground. While some people with flat feet experience no serious symptoms, for many others the lack of a natural arch can cause pressure and pain in the feet and ankles. If you find that your flat feet are causing pain and discomfort, you should look into one of these treatment options:
Orthotics are inserts that go inside your shoes in order to provide you with the arch support you're naturally lacking. While they won't provide a cure for your flat feet, orthotics for flat feet can significantly reduce your symptoms in a very short time and with minimal effort on your part.
Some flat-footed people find that over-the-counter arch supports do the trick, but for the best results you should consult your podiatrist about custom orthotics. These are made specifically to your feet's measurements, molding to the shape of your feet. This helps ensure a great, comfortable fit and the most ideal arch support possible.
While stretching your feet and ankles will not cure your flat feet, it may help relieve the pain and pressure. In particular, exercises that help stretch your Achilles tendon may be beneficial, as this tendon can easily become inflamed and painful due to the misalignment of flat feet. These foot and ankle stretches from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons are a great place to start.
If your flat foot is especially severe, your doctor may recommend surgery. The type of surgery will vary depending on your individual needs and the severity of your condition. In some cases, a minimally invasive procedure may produce great results, while for others a more complicated surgery such as a "tendon transfer" may be recommended.
Certain lifestyle factors, such as obesity and diabetes, can significantly worsen flat feet. In order to moderate your symptoms naturally, it's a good idea to take care of your overall health, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight. If running and other forms of exercise aren't appealing due to the pain in your feet and ankles, look into low impact workouts such as water aerobics.
Be sure to discuss your treatment options with your podiatrist, in order to determine the best fit for you and your unique situation. Whichever treatment option you choose, the pain and discomfort of flat feet can soon be a thing of the past.