Flat feet can be aesthetically upsetting for those who suffer with this common ailment. Flat feet can also cause physical pain and a plethora of other health issues. This is why you must address your feet now before they impact your health even more. But where do you start?
Just a brief Google of flat feet can give you a headache from all the articles, blog posts, and websites that pop up. Don’t worry, we’ve sorted through the mess of available information out there to give you the highlights you need to better your health.
Flat feet can be caused by a variety of ailments or they can even be inherited. The most immediate concern for people who have flat feet is usually pain. This pain is very difficult to alleviate because you must address the cause of the issue- the lack of an arch. This can take up to weeks to fix and will require insoles. If you’re not having pain, you’ll still want to get a good insole for your flat feet. This is because flat feet can cause a variety of issues including shin splints, bunions, and twisted ankles if left untreated, just to name a few.
A major concern with flat feet is that your muscles have to work extra hard to lift your toes and your heels as you walk. Go ahead and take a normal step forward. You will notice that you start by lifting your heel. Then you have to lift your toes to clear your foot over the ground so that your foot does not drag. Normally, the arch of the foot does some of this work for you. If you have flat feet, though, your muscles have to work overtime to compensate. This is why insoles are a must. They replace your foot arch and allow your muscles to not work so hard when you’re walking.
It is still important to remember that relief might not be immediate. It takes time for your body to adjust to its new mechanics. This is why it is important to perform the recommended exercises and stretches for flat feet to compensate in the meantime while you’re waiting for you insoles to arrive in the mail (and then when you have to wait adjust to them).
To exercise your arch, you’ll need to address your feet and your legs. To exercise your feet, place a towel down on the floor and step on it. Begin scrunching the towel by curling you toes. Repeat until your foot becomes fatigued. Next, stand on a step with only the ball of your feet so that your heels are floating off the edge. Lift your heels 12 times. Repeat for three sets. The last one is a little odd, but it’s very effective. It’s called tibial realignment.
To perform tibial realignment, you’ll essentially be in a bent position dragging your feet forward. Start by tilting your pelvis forward and squeezing your glutes (butt muscles). Bend forward slightly and your hips so you can see your feet and then bend your knees. Walk by lifting your heel and sliding your foot forward (the ball of your foot will continue to touch the ground). Repeat this until you feel fatigued.
After exercising, it is always important to stretch to maintain your joint range of motion. Begin by placing the ball of your foot on a wall while your heel stretches down toward the ground. Next, sit and cross your right ankle over your left knee. Switch and place your left ankle over your right knee. Hold each of these stretches for at least 30 seconds.
Now that you have your exercises to do while you wait, it’s time to order some insoles. If you go online you’ll find thousands of different insole options. It may be so overwhelming that you want to give up entirely. But don’t fret, you’ve sorted through them all to give you the three most highly recommended insoles for flat feet outside of prescribed orthotics.
The third place winner is Dr. JK Heel Pads and Heel Grip (8 pack). The main benefit of this product is that you get 4 sets for a reasonable cost. A main concern with many insoles is that you constantly have to remember to switch them in your shoes or you have to buy multiple pair which can become costly. They are also sticky and can be used in a variety of shoes so you’re not just stuck with wearing traditional athletic shoes every single day. Although a major complaint with this product is that it doesn’t fit well into boots and it can take up to a week to adjust to the feeling of the insole.
In second place are the Honey Soles Natural Cork Shoe Insoles. These insoles are widely accepted by naturalist who are environmentally conscious. They also have an interesting aesthetic and don’t have the traditional appearance of medical equipment, which can be appealing to many users. The main complaint with this product is that you have to trim and size them yourself. This is great if you are hardy, but some users found it difficult to get the right shape. However, feature makes the product more cost efficient. Another complaint is that your feet will start to leave an imprint in the cork. For users who are into just the appearance, this is a downside, but it doesn’t impact their efficiency.
In first place is the Sole Softec Response Custom Footbed. This product is said to rank close to a medically prescribed insole without the medical-equipment appearance. The main complaint with this product is that it doesn’t support properly for plantar fasciitis so if you have flat feet and plantar fasciitis, consider the second or third place product. Also, one user complained that the product deformed at 150 degrees. If you know your shoes will be in the heat and sun, you might want to opt for the second place winner to avoid any issues with deformation. Overall, though, these insoles will give you the best comfort and support for the money.
If you’re not interested in any of the insoles mentioned above, there are a few guidelines you can use to help you make your decision. First, it’s always good to look at customer reviews. Don’t buy a product just because it has a 5-star rating if only 3 people have reviewed the product. This is most likely a skewed sample. Find one that at least has 50 reviews- but the more reviews the better. Next, you’ll want to make sure that it has built in arch support. Some insoles are just flat and those will not benefit you. Also the heel should be cushioned to alleviate and avoid pain. The next points are more a matter of opinion, but it’s still important to keep in the back of your mind as you shop.
First, you’ll want to look at how the insole looks. This may seem silly at first, but insole users often become embarrassed when they have to take off their shoes and others can see insoles that look like they belong to a 90-year-old (not to say that you can’t be stylish when you’re in your 90s, too!). You’ll also need to determine whether you want insoles that are waterproof.
Do you sweat a lot? Do you often walking in the rain and through puddles? This is an important consideration because insoles can become costly and you won’t want to have to replace them all the time. Obviously, you’ll need to evaluate comfort but that will occur once your product has arrived. Wear it every day for at least a week to get a true evaluation of the quality of the product.
Overall, if you have flat feet, insoles could be the solution for you. Don’t let your lack of arch to stand in the way of you getting on your feet and doing what you love. Just follow this simple guide and you and your feet will be looking at a brighter and more active future.
1. Adams, A. (2015). Problems from flat feet. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/80314-problems-flat-feet/
2. Amazon. (2016). Dr. JK heel pads and heel grips (8 pack).
3. Amazon. (2016). Honey soles natural cork shoe insoles.
4. Amazon. (2016). Sole Softec response custom footbed.
5. Chen, Y., Shu-Zon, L., Huang, C., & Su, F. (2010). Effects of foot orthoses on gait patterns of flat feet patients. Clinical Biomechanics, 25(3), 265-270. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0268003309002630Cooper, G. (2013). Arch-building exercises for flat feet. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/415124-arch-building-exercises-for-flat-feet/
6. Kulcu, D. G., Yavuzer, G., Sarmer, S., & Ergin, S. (2007). Immediate effects of silicone insoles on gait pattern in patients with flexible flatfoot. Foot and Ankle International, 28(10), 1053-1056. Retrieved from http://fai.sagepub.com/content/28/10/1053.short
7. WebMD. (2014). Flatfoot (Pes Planus). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/flatfoot-pes-planus-topic-overview?page=12
8. Wellons, J. (2013). Exercises to correct flat feet in adults. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/416886-exercises-to-correct-flat-feet-in-adults/