Foot Health By FootWire / July 5, 2016 Flat-footedness (pes planus) is a common condition. In fact, we all have flat feet at birth. During childhood, the arch of the foot usually develops, but for some people this is not the case. If you do not develop arches in your feet as a child or if your arches fall, you may end up with one of the two types of flat-footedness. They are: 1. Flexible Flat Foot: If your feet are flat when you are standing normally but you do have arches when you stand on your toes, your flat feet are flexible. 2. Inflexible Flat Foot: If you have no arches whether you are standing flat or on tiptoe, your flat feet are considered inflexible. What Causes Flat Footedness? Very often, flat feet are inherited. Sometimes flat footedness is caused by fallen arches or injury to the tendon that supports the arch. This can be caused by gait irregularity. Poorly fitted shoes are often to blame. Other causes of flat feet include: Obesity Diabetes Hypertension Rheumatoid Arthritis Excessive Exercise The cause of inflexible flat foot may be tarsal coalition. This happens when small bones in your foot become fused. Your doctor may want to x-ray your feet to confirm this. What Can Be Done At Home To Relieve Flat Feet? If you do have flat feet and/or you are experiencing pain in your feet, you should see your medical doctor. He or she can give you a proper diagnosis and check if you don’t suffer from some other foot problems. In the meantime, you may find some relief with a few common home remedies. For immediate relief: Use over-the-counter pain medication. Put your feet up. Soak your feet. Apply ice. For relief on the go: Be sure to wear shoes that fit properly and provide good foot support. Invest in non-prescription arch supports as needed. In the long term: Take good care of your overall health to avoid conditions that contribute to flat feet. Maintain a healthy weight to avoid excess pressure on the arches. Foot Strengthening Exercises Can Help Your Arches Foot exercises are always a good idea. In today’s world most people spend all day in shoes that hold their feet in a fairly still position. It is only natural that the muscles weaken and the feet are stressed. Over time, this causes a lack of flexibility and can cause your feet to become injury prone. Luckily, foot exercises are easy and extremely beneficial. One of the simplest and most effective can be done while sitting in your comfy chair watching the telly! Scrunch A Towel With Your Toes Just get a hand towel and spread it flat on the floor in front of your chair. Position your foot so that the ball of the foot is on the closest edge of the towel. Reach with your toes as far as possible and try to pull the towel into a ball a bit at a time. Scrunch it toward you and keep on scrunching until you have the whole thing bunched up underfoot. Each time you scrunch the towel toward you, you should feel a contraction in the arch of your foot. Hold this for a few seconds for the most strengthening benefit. Repeat this exercise three times a day. Strengthen Your Arches With Stair Raises You can do this exercise on a step or on a raised board or step exerciser. Whatever you use, it should be 3 or 4 inches high. To begin, place the ball of your foot on the edge of the step, board or stepper. Rest your heel below the level of top edge of the board. Slowly raise yourself up (using the strength in your feet and legs) to stand on your tiptoes. Press down with your toes and then gradually lower yourself back to the starting position. It’s important to do this slowly and in a controlled manner. Otherwise you will reap little or no benefit. Done slowly, this exercise strengthens your calves, ankles and arches. Do three sets of ten daily. Roll A Ball Or Cylinder For More Flexible Arches Relax your feet by rolling a small can or a rubber ball or tennis ball underfoot. This delivers a good massage that helps stretch and relieve the muscles of the feet. If you have pain in your feet (especially your arches) try rolling a frozen water bottle underfoot. This can be very refreshing and helps reduce pain. Stretch And Massage By Hand After you have finished your exercises, massage your feet. You may wish to soak them in a tub of warm water or a foot spa first. When you massage, pull the toes up and back to stretch the sole of the foot. Massage the arches with your thumbs to release lactic acid from the muscles and relieve any soreness. Massage also promotes strength and flexibility. See Your Doctor As Needed When you recognize the symptoms of flat feet, understand the causes and seek proper medical and at-home treatment, you can ease and even reverse the pain associated with flat footedness. Home remedies for the pain of flat feet can help provide relief if you are experiencing moderate pain. If your pain is severe, does not get better and/or worsens be sure to see your doctor. Consistent care will result in successful results. Nicky Ellis Nicky is an editor-in-chief at Pedi Reviews. She is a mom of three and also a certified podiatry assistant. She enjoys writing about foot care and her morning yoga sessions.