Most of us have a low arch. The foot actually appears quite normal and a clear (but low) arch is present under the foot, especially when sitting down. The situation changes with weight bearing: when we get up the arch lowers. When we start walking the arches collapse and the ankles roll inwards. This is called over-pronation - or fallen arches. Over-pronation is not the same as flat feet as often noted. Pronation itself is not wrong as we need to pronate and supinate as part of our gait. Pronation (rolling in) acts as a shock absorbing process and supination (rolling out) helps to propel our feet forward.
Turning 40 doesn?t necessarily have anything to do with it, but over time you?ve likely engaged in certain activities or developed some unhealthy habits that led to this condition. If you are overweight, you are placing excess burdens on your feet, causing the tendons to strain. Some women experience fallen arches because of weight gain during pregnancy. You also may have damaged these tendons while exercising. If you suffered a serious injury to the foot, you may have weakened the tendons, which can also lead to this development.
A significant number of people with fallen arches (flat feet) experience no pain and have no problems. Some, however, may experience pain in their feet, especially when the connecting ligaments and muscles are strained. The leg joints may also be affected, resulting in pain. If the ankles turn inwards because of flat feet the most likely affected areas will be the feet, ankles and knees. Some people have flat feet because of a developmental fault during childhood, while others may find that the problem develops as they age, or after a pregnancy. There are some simple devices which may prevent the complications of flat feet.
Many medical professionals can diagnose a flat foot by examining the patient standing or just looking at them. On going up onto tip toe the deformity will correct when this is a flexible flat foot in a child with lax joints. Such correction is not seen in the adult with a rigid flat foot. An easy and traditional home diagnosis is the "wet footprint" test, performed by wetting the feet in water and then standing on a smooth, level surface such as smooth concrete or thin cardboard or heavy paper. Usually, the more the sole of the foot that makes contact (leaves a footprint), the flatter the foot. In more extreme cases, known as a kinked flatfoot, the entire inner edge of the footprint may actually bulge outward, where in a normal to high arch this part of the sole of the foot does not make contact with the ground at all.
Non Surgical Treatment
Heel cord stretching is an important part of treatment, as a tight Achilles tendon tends to pronate the foot. Orthotics (inserts or insoles, often custom-made) may be used. These usually contain a heel wedge to correct calcaneovalgus deformity, and an arch support. This is the usual treatment for flexible Pes Planus (if treatment is needed). A suitable insole can help to correct the deformity while it is worn. Possibly it may prevent progression of flat feet, or may reduce symptoms. However, the effectiveness of arch support insoles is uncertain. Arch supports used without correcting heel cord contracture can make symptoms worse. In patients with fixed Pes planus or arthropathy, customised insoles may relieve symptoms. Reduce contributing factors, wear shoes with low heels and wide toes. Lose weight if appropriate. Do exercises to strengthen foot muscles - walking barefoot (if appropriate), toe curls (flexing toes) and heel raises (standing on tiptoe).
Feet that do not respond to the treatments above may need surgery. The surgery will help to create a supportive arch.
Well-fitted shoes with good arch support may help prevent flat feet. Maintaining a healthy weight may also lower wear and tear on the arches.