Not Just Cops Have Flat Feet

A frequent cause of physical problems that I see in my practice is flat feet. Problems with the arches of the feet can result in pains in the low back (or any other part of the spine for that matter). Pains in the knees or hips can also result from foot trouble. Cramps such as shin splints or tendinitis in the various muscles of the leg as well as lower limb bursitis conditions are commonly caused from the feet.

A flatfoot is the lack of the long inner arch of the foot. There are 3 arches in the human foot: inner, outer (both called longitudinal) and one across the front of the foot at the base of the toes known as the anterior arch. The diagnosis of flat feet is called either pes planus or hyperpronation.

The flattening motion that occurs in your foot when you twist your leg internally is called pronation. In the normal foot, pronation occurs during walking just after your heel strikes the ground. The purpose of this action is for shock absorption. The force of your heel hitting the ground is 125% of your body weight; consequently, a large degree of shock absorption assists to prevent damage to the knee and lower back.

On average people spend 4 hours a day on their feet while taking about 8000 to 10,000 steps a day, your feet then support a combined force of several hundred tons. In some jobs and most sports, these figures can double or triple. Flat feet result in significantly reduced efficiency in walking, a greater use of energy and oxygen; therefore, having flat feet is a common cause of fatigue at the end of the day.

Until the age of two, infants have flat feet due to the presence of a large fat pad under the foot. As they begin to walk, this pad gradually disappears so that 90% of kids have normal arches by the age of 10. The arches of the normal foot are held up by strong ligaments and are assisted during gait by several muscles mainly found in the shin and calf. Problems in the foot develop when these ligaments are put under excessive stress. This can occur when very high loads are placed on the foot for sudden but short intervals such as jumping from a height or by smaller but repetitive stresses over a longer period of time. For example, wearing poor footwear for long walks can break the arch down rapidly.

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