The ideal human foot features an arch that provides stability for the body whilst walking and running. When these arches are too low, it is referred as “flat feet” or “overpronated feet” and have been associated with multiple problems including low back pain. Ascertaining the association of an individuals’ flat foot and back pain could benefit individuals in the long run.
So what causes flat feet? A lot of flat feet is result of genetics. Some cases, flat feet may be a result of trauma to the foot such as dislocation, fracture or anomaly. Another question that gets asked frequently is “Am I doomed for injuries for having flat feet?” the answer is NO. It’s not the flat feet alone that causes problems, it’s the biomechanical changes that are associated with flat feet that increases the risk of injuries.
Flat feet may cause biomechanical changes on the lower limb during gait. Normal pronation occurs when walking or running, the knee and thigh all rotate internally. However, flat feet can exaggerate the pronation causing changes.
- foot pronation increases shin and thigh internal rotation during gait
- foot pronation increases pelvic ipsilateral (same side) drop during gait
- foot pronation increases hip and knee adduction on the contralateral (opposite side) leg
Increases in these biomechanical changes may be associated with the occurrence of injuries and back pain. Other conditions flat feet (overpronated feet) are associated, include:
- shin splints
- plantar fasciitis
- patella-femoral pain syndrome
- achilles tendonitis
- stress fracture
Flat feet are not a serious condition. You can undergo certain physical therapy exercises to help relieve the pain related to flat feet. Rigid taping and customised orthotics improved foot posture and related symptoms.