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Choosing Insoles For Flat Feet

Choosing insoles for flat feet
September 15th, 2023 / Podiatry

Whether flat feet is something you’ve been dealing with all your life or it’s something you’ve developed as a result of injury or pregnancy, finding shoes that fit and are comfortable can feel nearly impossible. Flat feet is a condition that people commonly see podiatrists for, and one way that they help to relieve discomfort is by recommending the use of insoles.

But how do insoles help, and how do you choose the right ones?

Doubleview Podiatry Perth have been seeing patients with flat feet for a number of years now, so we understand the discomfort you’re experiencing and the frustration that shoe shopping brings. Book an appointment with one of our experienced podiatrists today and you’ll be walking on sunshine in no time. 

What are Flat Feet?   

This is when the arch of your foot is lower than normal – as such, the condition is also known as ‘fallen arches’.

Our feet usually have a prominent arch shape – the heel and ball of the foot touch the ground, whilst the middle part of the foot’s inside aspect is off the ground. Sometimes, however, the arch doesn’t develop properly or something occurs to flatten it towards the ground.

What are the Symptoms of Flat Feet?

Flat feet don’t always cause symptoms, which is why a lot of people don’t find out they have this condition until well into adulthood.

It can sometimes cause pain in other parts of the body (such as the heel, arch, or leg) because flat feet change how your feet and legs align, and how they work together during movement.

Some other signs that you may notice include:

  • Uneven shoe wear
  • Tripping or falling often
  • Stiffness or swelling in the feet

What Causes Flat Feet?

There can actually be a few causes for flat feet.

It can be caused by the arches in the feet not developing properly during childhood. All babies and toddlers appear to have flat feet – this is because baby fat hides the developing arch from view. If they stand on their toes, you may be able to see that the arch is present. By 10 years old, most children will have developed a visible arch – but some children never do.

Flat feet can also develop with age and pregnancy, with wear and tear causing the arch to drop over time.

There are some specific conditions that can cause flat feet, including cerebral palsy, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and muscular dystrophy.

The risk factors for developing this condition include:

  • Being male
  • Having rheumatoid arthritis
  • Having diabetes
  • Being obese

How are Flat Feet Diagnosed?

There are a few ways that a podiatrist may diagnose flat feet. They may ask you to make a footprint that they can inspect – the arch of your foot will touch the ground, and this will be visible in your footprint. They may also measure your feet and ask about any symptoms to rule out other conditions.

How are Flat Feet Treated?

If you have flat feet but they aren’t causing you any pain or concern, it’s likely that you won’t need plantar fasciitis treatment.

If you have symptoms, however, your podiatrist may recommend:

In very extreme cases, surgery may be considered – this is something that your podiatrist will discuss with you if it’s a possibility.

Are Insoles Helpful for Flat Feet?

Whilst having flat feet isn’t a major problem for most people, there are certain discomforts that can arise. If you spend a lot of time sitting or standing, for example, flat feet can contribute to pain in your hips, knees, and arches. They can also increase your chances of developing calluses, as the inside of your foot is more likely to rub against your shoes. They can also cause your ankles and lower legs to roll inwards, which can lead to shin splints.

In these sorts of cases, insoles can provide you with some much-needed support and stability, as well as relieve some of your pain.

What Should I Look For in an Insole?

There are two kinds of insoles on the market – over-the-counter and custom arch supports (which are moulded according to the unique shape of a patient’s foot). No matter which kind you ultimately decide to go with, there are a few things to look for:

  • A heel cup that sits directly underneath the heel and is deep enough to hug the sides of it (this will help to keep the foot stable and supported).
  • Stiffness – the more rigid the insole the more stable and supportive it will be. A good test is to try bending the insole – if it bends, it’s too soft.
  • A low but supportive arch – a firm arch that is too high will be painful, whilst a soft arch will not provide the long-term relief you’re looking for.

At the end of the day, it’s likely that you’ll need to test a few pairs of insoles out before you find an option that works for you. Listen to what your podiatrist recommends – don’t use OTC if they’ve said you need a custom pair. 

Flat Feet are no Problem with Doubleview Podiatry

As flat feet is a condition that we commonly see at Doubleview Podiatry, rest assured that you’ll be in good hands when you book an appointment with one of our experienced podiatrists. Remember that there are a handful of treatments for flat feet and insoles are just one option – your podiatrist will let you know if insoles are a good fit for your problem, as well as what type will offer the best support and stability.

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