Flat feet left untreated not only causes pain but can lead to other more serious foot and lower body joint problems.

Your feet work tirelessly every day to support your body's weight, so if there's an imbalance your entire body may suffer.

Flat feet means the arch of your foot is fully collapsed or rolls inward. The arch is the gap on the inner side of the foot where the bottom of the foot is raised off the ground.

If you have children and you're worried they may have fallen arches remember that the arch in a small childs foot develops between the ages of 3 and 10.

If your feet are out of alignment this can place additional stress on your body's skeletal structure. People with flat feet shift pressure while walking to other parts of the foot, which over time can cause aching and sometimes intense pain. If left untreated, flat feet can lead to other more serious lower body joint problems affecting the knee, hip, and lower back.

What are the causes of flat feet?

Most people's arches develop during childhood, but in some cases a person may never develop arches. This is a normal variation in foot type and may or may not have problems without arches. It might also run in the family.

In other people the arches can fall over time. This might be due to years of wear and tear and weakened ligaments in the heel. The posterior tibial tendon is the main support structure for the arch. If you over do it this tendon can cause inflammation and even tearing of the tendon.

You may lose support in your arch due to...

  • Weakened muscles due to aging or heavy strain placed on the feet.
  • Standing or walking for long periods in high heels.
  • Wearing shoes that don't provide proper arch support.Obesity.
  • Traumatic injury to your foot or ankle.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Diabetes.

Relief and Prevention

In most people, flat feet ache can be relieved through wearing well-fitted shoes that offer good arch support.

Consider using arch supports and flat feet insoles to put in your shoes that will support the arch and stabilize the heel.

In extreme cases, surgery may be required to stabilize the bones and improve foot support and function. A podiatrist or orthopaedic doctor will decide if surgery is necessary.