I Have Flat Feet. Do I Need Arch Supports ?

Feet Don't Fail Me Now Logo

I Have Flat Feet. Do I Need Arch Supports ?

I have flat feet. Do I need arch supports ? Flat feet are quite rare. Less than 10% of the population in North America have this condition. It is known medically as pes planus; distinct from pes cavus (high arches). People are typically born with pes planus. Less often, flat feet can develop when normal arches “fall” over time. Years of walking, running and standing can weaken the posterior tibialis tendon, which runs along the inside of the ankle down to the inside of the arch. This tendon is the main support for the arch; and if overloaded, inflammation (tendinitis) and tearing can occur. If the tendon is damaged, the arch loses support and can flatten, resulting in “fallen arches.” This can be more common as people age and/or gain weight and/or accumulate medical conditions. Flat feet are normal in infants and toddlers because their arches have not yet developed. Typically by age 7 the arches have formed fully and by then most peoples’ arches have lifted an average (normal) amount. Flat feet and fallen arches are similar and closely related to overpronation, which is an excessive inward rolling of the foot during gait.

How to determine if you have flat feet or if you’re an overpronator. This is quite simple. In the person with flat feet, no arch will be observable in either the seated or the standing position. In a person who overpronates, the arch will be at least slightly visible in the seated or non weight-bearing position, and may not be observable while standing. If you have flat feet it doesn’t necessarily mean you need arch supports. First of all, if you have no arches to support, trying to put something under the arch can be very uncomfortable. On the other hand, using custom orthotics for pes planus (flatfeet) is often recommended by podiatrists. This should generally be done under medical supervision. These feet can be difficult to manage and new problems can arise when you start lifting and shifting. Some people with flat feet have no symptoms, either in the feet, knees, hips or back. If this is the case, likely no support is needed.

Flat Feet

And for all you ‘Pronators’ out there, this article is for you: Did Podiatrists Invent Pronation ?