If you have flat feet, a custom orthotic is the usual treatment recommended by most podiatrists. However, debate surrounds this treatment option, and many podiatrists, doctors and patients may prefer to explore alternatives. Here are three ways to treat flat feet, and these options can be used instead of or in addition to custom orthotics.
1. Prefabricated inserts
Custom orthotics can be expensive, and if you cannot afford them, you may want to consider prefabricated inserts. Available over the counter at most pharmacies, prefabricated inserts slot easily into most trainers, and according to a 2004 study, when used by healthy people, prefabricated inserts are no more likely than custom inserts to result in stress fractures or other foot problems.
However, keep in mind that study looked at healthy people using inserts to prevent injuries. It did not look at the use of inserts to cure existing issues. In some cases, flat feet can be helped with the extra support offered by a prefabricated insert, but if that doesn't work, custom inserts may be better for you.
2. Foot Exercises
In some cases, flat feet are the result of a collapsed arch due to weak foot muscles. The arch of your foot is supported by bones held by ligaments and tendons, and together, these elements support the weight of your body.
Unfortunately, if the muscles and tissues that support the arch weaken and fail, you can get flat feet. An orthotic insert supports the muscles and helps to lift them into place. However, special exercises can also help reshape your foot.
The right exercises can strengthen your foot as well as your coordination. To exercise the muscles supporting your arch, you need to raise and lower your toes and spread them apart. You also need to crunch them up and stretch them out repeatedly. Finally, you need to roll your ankles and stretch your arches.
When you have flat feet, their misalignment can spread through your body, causing knee, hip and back pain. However, just as the pain from your feet can move up through your body, stretching your legs can provide relief to your flat feet.
Your calf muscles connect to your achilles tendon, which supports your arch. By stretching your calf muscles, you can provide some relief to your foot. To do an easy calf stretch, stand on a stair with your heels hanging off the stair. Lower your heels until you feel your calves stretching. Hold and repeat.