People with flat feet, also known as fallen arches, have either no arch in their feet or one that is very low. There is usually a gap beneath the inner part of the foot when standing. The arches provide a spring to the step and help to distribute body weight across the feet and legs.
The most common symptom of flat feet is pain in the feet. Abnormal stresses on the knee and hip may result in pain in these joints. These stresses are likely if the ankles turn inward.
Athough flat feet can be caused by genetic factors, injury or arthritis, age also can play a role. The posterior tibial tendon, the primary suppoer structure of the foot arch, can weaken.
Specific exercises to manage the symptoms of flat feet or prevent them from developing are helpful and supportive well-fitted shoes can provide relief. Fitted insoles and orthotics or custom-designed arch supports may relieve pressure on the arch and reduce pain if the feet roll too far inward. However, these products only treat the symptoms and do not provide long-lasting benefits. More severe cases may require corrective bracing or surgery.