Fallen Arches: Symptoms, Causes, Exercises, Treatment, Diagnosis
Have you ever looked at your foot from the inside? If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your feet or ankle joints, you may have fallen arches. Take a look at your feet and notice an upward curve in the middle of each foot; this is called an arch. A normal arch creates an upward curve in the middle of your foot. If you notice a downward sagging in the inside edge of your foot during standing or walking, you may have fallen arches. Front-to-back arches are natural curves along the bottoms of both feet that are supported by tendons and ligaments.
Tendons are tight bands that attach at the heel and helps form the arch of the foot. Tendons help maintain a normal arch. When tendons begin to weaken, the arches can begin to fall. This condition is called adult-acquired flat feet or fallen arches.
Common Symptoms of Fallen Arches
- Pain along the inside of the foot and ankle.
- Pain or swelling of the arches.
- Pain with activities, such as running, jogging, and walking.
- Knee, hip and back pain.
As fallen arches become more advanced, the arch flattens even more and pain often shifts to the outside of the foot, below the ankle. Once the tendons have deteriorated considerably, arthritis often develops in the foot. In more severe cases, arthritis may also develop in the ankle.
Causes of Fallen Arches
Injury from a fall can tear tendons or cause them to become inflamed. The tendons can also tear due to overuse. Are you active in high impact sports, such as: basketball, tennis, or soccer? High impact sports and high impact activities may lead to tears of the tendon from repetitive use. Once the tendons become inflamed or torn, the arch will slowly fall (collapse) over time; thus creating fallen arches.
Fallen arches are more common in women and people older than 40 years of age. Additional risk factors include obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.
- An abnormality that is present at birth.
- Stretched or torn tendons.
- Damage or inflammation of the posterior tibial tendon, which connects from your lower leg, along with your ankle, to the middle of the arch.
- Broken or dislocated bones.
- Some health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Nerve problems.
Best Exercises for Fallen Arches
- Stand with one foot in the center of a hand towel.
- Scrunch your toes in and straighten them out to bunch the towel as much as possible.
- When you have scrunched the towel, use your feet to stretch the towel back out.
- Repeat on the opposite foot.
- Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
- Scrunch up the toes of one foot as if you are trying to grab hold of the floor then use your toes to drag your foot a small distance forwards.
- Repeat on each foot, but don’t use your leg muscles to push your foot forward — the movement should come solely from the muscles in your feet.
Foot Press and Release
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you then bend your knees out to either side. Place the soles of your feet together so your legs form a diamond.
- Hold on to your ankles and, keeping your heels together at all times, separate your feet so your toes point out to either side.
- Open and close your feet in this way several times, making sure your little toes stay in contact with the floor throughout the exercise.
- Starting in the same position, try separating your heels, keeping your toes together at all times.
Best Shoes for Fallen Arches
We carry a wide variety of shoes and sandals for fallen arches. Many of the supportive shoes and sandals we carry have great support and accommodate orthotics. Shoes for fallen arches should have a very rigid sole and a stiff heel counter.
Best Arch Supports for Fallen Arches
We have a wide variety of arch supports for fallen arches. The best arch support for fallen arches will control pronation, and be adjustable to meet your foot needs. The best insoles for fallen arches usually are custom molded and have rear foot postings to help control the amount the arch falls when you take a step. We have over the counter arch supports and custom molded orthotics which help reduce the pain associated with fallen arches. Make an appointment today with a specialist to find out which fallen arch support is best for you!
Most patients can be treated without surgery using orthotics, supportive shoes and braces. Due to the progressive nature of fallen arches, early treatment is advised. If treated early enough, your symptoms may resolve without the need for surgery.
In many cases, treatment can begin with non-surgical approaches that may include:
- Proper stretching exercises.
- Orthopedic devices, shoe modifications, braces, or casts.
- Physical therapy.
- Pain relief medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
- Shoe modifications.
Are you experiencing foot pain and believe you are suffering from fallen arches? We highly recommended that you seek the opinion of a medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of fallen arches. In addition, you can test yourself for fallen arches at the comfort of your home. You can easily test yourself to see if you might have fallen arches or flat feet. Follow these three steps:
- Get your feet wet.
- Stand on a flat surface where your footprint will show, such as on a concrete walkway.
- Step away and look at the prints. If you see complete imprints of the bottom of your feet on the surface, then you’re likely to have flat feet.
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