Info Your Feet Can Use
"Could a pair of orthotics really relieve my discomfort?". This is one of the most common questions asked by people with flat feet. Unfortunately, a simple "yes" or "no" answer is often difficult to give in this situation. Many factors can determine if orthotics can relieve the symptoms associated with flat feet, such as arch and heel pain. It is first important to understand what "flat feet" are, and what is the root cause of the discomfort associated with them.
Flat feet are often referred to as "fallen arches", and is a common condition seen in both children and adults. The arch of the foot is formed by a group of tendons and ligaments attached to the heel and foot bones. Tendons in the lower leg and foot must work in conjunction, pulling at the correct times during standing and walking. This aids in forming the arch of the foot. If the tendons do not pull sufficiently enough, or the ligaments of the foot are lax, the foot may be left with a very low arch, or no arch at all. This condition is commonly referred to as flat feet. This lack of internal arch support can cause a variety of problematic complications. In people with flat feet, the standard pressure of gait (walking), or standing, must shift to other portions of the feet that are not designed to handle this type of strain. If left untreated this can cause pain, discomfort, and possibly joint and soft tissue injury.
Flat feet can be attributed to many causes. They may be present in newborns, develop during childhood, or slowly progress as an adult. Frequently, their is a hereditary component. Other possible causes of progressive flat feet include:
The treatments for flat feet range from conservative to surgical, and are often dependent on the severity of the symptoms and underlying cause. In many cases, the symptoms of flat feet can be controlled effectively with conservative, non surgical care. If your doctor confirms the diagnosis of flat feet, they may suggest some of the following:
• Purchasing appropriate shoes that stabilize the heel bone and support the arch of the foot. Be aware that your new shoes should be able to accomodate an orthotic device if one were eventually prescribed for you by your podiatrist. A quality running shoe with a removable insole/liner will often be adequate.
• Using custom-made or over the counter orthotics to control the flattening of the arch while standing, walking and running.
• Regular strengthening and stretching exercises under the supervision of a professional
• Physical therapy
• Ice and/or compression to reduce pain and swelling
• Anti-inflammatory or pain medications Walking in the correct shoes, and possibly using over the counter or custom orthotics, may be greatly beneficial in controlling and preventing pain and discomfort.
Your podiatrist or physical therapist can often suggest strengthening exercises, and suitable stretches, to prep your feet for increasingly strenuous activity. Please note that effectively treating other conditions that can cause flat feet to become symptomatic, such as diabetes or obesity, is crucial to the long term success of treatment. In some cases it may be beneficial to avoid strenuous activities and high-impact sports. If over the counter orthotics have been tried and are not effective in reducing the symptoms associated with flat feet, custom orthotic devices may be fabricated by a podiatrist or pedorthist.
Regardless of the orthotics you may ultimately choose, it is generally important to "break in" these types of devices over a prolonged period of time. The foot may not be accustomed to the level of support an orthotic provides, and it may take some time for the muscles and ligaments to acclimate. Check out our homepage for more information about over the counter orthotics for the relief of symptoms associated with flat feet
In the United States alone, approximately 2 million Americans suffer from heel pain each year. Heel pain is typically located on the underside of the heel, and occasionally behind it. While this is rarely a symptom of a serious health condition, it can escalate to the point where normal activity, especially exercise, can be extremely painful. Although mild pain in the heel area can commonly disappear on its own, severe pain can become persistent and chronic if ignored.
The human foot and ankle are strong mechanical structures comprising of 28 bones, more than 30 joints, and over a hundred tendons, muscles and ligaments. The unique anatomical structure of the feet facilitates complex movements needed for balance and motion. The primary function of the heel, and the soft tissue surrounding it, is to provide strong but flexible support to bear the weight of the body. Physical activities, such as walking, running or dancing, can put a considerable amount of strain on the foot every time it hits the ground.
The heel and its surrounding soft tissue absorb the sudden shock of the impact and help to maintain fluidity in movement. Shoes and sneakers can augment the heel's ability to deal with these forces. For many people, orthotic insoles (also know as over-the-counter orthotics, prefabricated orthotics, or over-the-counter insoles) can provide even greater support and benefit than shoes alone.
From simple physical activities, such as walking and standing, to more strenuous weight-bearing exercises, such as dancing and jogging, the feet are constantly subjected to significant stresses. Due to their strategic location and function, the heel is vulnerable to damage, injury and pain.
One of the most common causes of heel pain is overuse/ repetitive exertion with inadequately supportive shoes. In some cases, increased body weight, the shape and flexibility of the persons foot, or the activity being performed, can neutralize the benefits of an otherwise supportive shoe.
This can lead to the most common type of heel pain: Plantar Fasciitis. This type of situation is where an over the counter insole can often excel in providing support and relief.
Often referred to as the "Jogger’s heel", plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. It has been estimated that about 10 percent of people will suffer from the condition at least once during their lifetime. The plantar fascia is a flat band of connective tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. This ligament provides support to the arch of the foot. Excessive stretching and repeated straining of the ligament can cause small tears in the tissue, leading to inflammation and swelling. Supportive shoes can prevent this in some cases, while in others orthotic insoles are useful in reducing this repetitive straining action.
The pain associated with plantar fasciitis is usually experienced on the underside of the heel and is most intense when taking the first few steps after waking up in the morning or sitting for long periods of time. The condition is very common in middle-aged people, however children and the elderly can also develop specific types of this condition for their age.
Plantar Fasciitis is often seen in people with a flat foot shape, or those who exhibit "overpronation". Overpronation is the technical term describing the abnormal way the foot functions when the arch has flattened too much with activity. While feet should roll slightly inward with each step (pronation), rotating too far (overpronation) in that direction can cause a misalignment of the hip and knee, and a loss of shock absorption. Other causes of Plantar Fasciitis include:
The Achilles tendon connects the heel to the back of the leg. This tendon is used heavily during high-impact exercises, such as running, racquetball or tennis. Sometimes, due to overuse, the tendon and its surrounding structures can become inflamed at its attachment to the back of the foot, resulting in heel pain.
Bursae are tiny fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between muscles, joints and tendons in the feet. Excessive pressure or prolonged movement can lead to inflammation of the bursae located behind the heel thus causing pain.
Inflammation due to an underlying condition, such as tendinitis or plantar fasciitis, can lead to an outgrowth of bone on the bottom, or the back, of the heel bone. This is classically referred to as a "heel spur". It is increasingly accepted that only in rare instances does the actual spur of bone cause pain. It is more likely the initial condition that lead to the growth of the spur in the first place that actually causing the patient's pain.
When the tibial nerve in the back of the foot is compressed or pinched it can lead to tarsal tunnel syndrome. Possible causes might be overpronation, inflammation in the area or chronic diseases, such as diabetes or arthritis.
An uncommon cause of heel pain, stress fracture of the heel bone or calcaneus usually develops as a result of rigorous sports, exercise or prolonged weight bearing. Long distance runners are most likely to suffer from a stress fracture.
This is a very common heel injury in growing children. Sever’s disease is a painful bone condition that develops as a result of repetitive trauma on the growth plates of the heel bone.
Sometimes, the heel pad can wear out due to heavy impact, obesity, or advanced age. This can also lead to chronic heel pain. In addition, other possible causes of heel pain include bone contusion (bruise), gout, bone cysts and tumors, rheumatoid arthritis, osteomyelitis and neuromas.
One of the most common questions I am asked by people who suffer with flat feet is, "Can a pair of arch support insoles really relieve my discomfort?". It turns out the answer is a little more complicated than a simple "yes" or "no". First, it's important to note the arch support insoles can not actually "cure" flat feet. However, flat feet can cause a variety of painful symptoms in the feet. Many of these symptoms have been treated, and often relieved, by arch support insoles for decades! One of the keys to correctly choosing an over-the-counter arch support insole is first understanding what "flat feet" are, and why discomfort often accompanies this condition.
Flat feet, also known as fallen arches, are a common condition seen in both adults and children. Normally, feet have an upward longitudinal curve in the middle called an arch. This arch is formed by a group of tendons and ligaments attached to the heel and foot bones. Tendons in the lower leg , along with ligaments in the foot, work together to pull and form the foot's arch. However, if the tendons do not pull sufficiently enough, there is a low arch or no arch at all. This condition of collapsed arches is popularly known as flat feet. Flat foot can affect one or both feet. The lack of crucial arch support in the foot can cause many complications. In people with fallen arches, the normal pressure of walking shifts to other parts of the feet. If not treated properly, this can cause prolonged discomfort, pain, and in some cases, serious joint and foot problems.
The treatment for flat feet is dependent on the severity of the condition and underlying cause. In many cases, the symptoms of flat feet can be controlled effectively with conservative care. Your podiatrist may suggest one or more of the following:
• Pain medications
• Regular stretching exercises
• Ice and compression to reduce pain and swelling
• Wearing appropriate shoes that support and stabilize the arches
• Physical therapy
• Using supportive insoles to stabilize the arch and heel area
Wearing the right shoes, and possibly over-the-counter insoles, can be tremendously beneficial in alleviating and preventing pain and discomfort. In addition, taking proper care of the feet and following a consistent home exercise regimen, prescribed by your doctor or physical therapist, can be very effective in prevention and management of the symptoms. A physical therapist or doctor can also suggest suitable stretches to prepare the feet before an intensive activity. It is similarly important to effectively treat or limit conditions that can aggravate fallen arches, such as diabetes or obesity. Avoiding high-impact sports and strenuous activities might be beneficial in some cases. If over-the-counter insoles are not effective in improving the symptoms of flat feet, custom orthotic devices or braces can possibly provide adequate support to the arch area. In some cases, where the damage or pain is severe, a doctor may recommend a suitable surgical procedure to improve foot support and bone stability in the area.
It is important to choose an insole that is neither too rigid, nor too flexible. An insole that is too firm provides little shock absorption during activity. When force is applied to this type of device, the material or design of the insole does not compress adequately, and the shock generated from your foot striking the ground is transmitted back into the joints of your body. This can often lead to back, knee and ankle discomfort. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an insole that is too "cushiony" may feel comfortable initially, but due to the lack of support, these devices often fail to alleviate the symptoms caused by flat feet. These types of insoles are often manufactured from a compressed foam material. It is usually apparent within the first few uses that the support provided is inadequate. It is popular for insoles to be sold in "approximate sizing". Often, this leads to an inadequate fit for many users. Certain individuals may be "in between" sizes for the vast majority of insoles on the market, leading them to believe that an over the counter insole may not be effective for them. For this reason, it is important to confirm that any insole you purchase fits your foot and arch appropriately, regardless of the manufactures' suggested sizing. Regardless of the insoles you ultimately choose, it is important to break in these types of devices over a prolonged period of time. Your foot may not be accustomed to the level of support a new insole provides, and it may take some time for the muscles and ligaments to acclimate. Check out the Samurai Insoles homepage for more information about insoles for flat feet, and to explore the specific qualities of insoles that can provide quick relief.
Dealing with foot pain can be a draining, frustrating experience. There are some well known foot conditions that are notorious, and widely mentioned in health and fitness articles as far as the eye can see. These include heel spurs, bunions, and hammertoes (oh my!). However, one type of foot pain is much less well known. For this reason, this type of foot pain is often ignored by the sufferer for long periods of time, sometimes leading to chronic severe discomfort. What is this mysterious and pesky condition? Outside of the foot pain!
The ankle has two peroneal tendons which connect the muscles of the lower leg to the outside and bottom of the foot. These tendons can become irritated and inflamed for a variety of different reasons. This condition can make physical activity involving the feet extremely difficult, and long term damage of the tendons can develop if treatment is not sought in a timely fashion.
In rare instances, surgery may be recommended as a treatment for this condition. Generally, this is limited to severe situations where tearing or bone spurring has occurred in or around the tendons. This can occur if the initial injury is particularly severe, or if the condition is left untreated for a very long period of time, causing irreversible damage. When this is the case, conservative treatments have generally been ineffective in providing relief. By consulting with your doctor in a timely fashion, and following the instructions for treatment, surgery for peroneal tendonitis can by avoided in the vast majority of cases.
Heel pain is an attention grabber. It can debilitate you. It will make you miserable. It will also make your family miserable. After all, you will likely complain about it for months before seeking treatment. The explanations of heel pain are many, only rivaled by the number of treatments you can find online. So what is causing the pain in the bottom of YOUR heel? You should discuss your individual situation with your doctor. However, by having basic knowledge of a few fundamentals, you will be able to have a more educated discussion regarding your condition.
Heel pain is generally caused by an abnormally high amount of stress being exerted across a specific ligament located on the bottom of the foot. This ligament is called the “plantar fascia”. The plantar fascia is a broad, thick ligament similar to a rubber band. This ligament is attached to the heel bone and stretches along the bottom of the foot across the arch. The other end of this ligament then attaches to the ball of the foot.
The location of “typical” heel pain is either directly under the heel itself, or in the area where the arch meets the heel. This is precisely the attachment of the plantar fascia to the heel bone. Unfortunately, this is also the weakest portion of this ligament, and therefore the most commonly injured area. When the plantar fascia is stretched beyond its normal length, microscopic tears can develop. This can happen over many years, in one attention grabbing event, or anywhere in between. Inflammation, pain, and tightness in the heel and arch then follow.
Plantar fascia inflammation, commonly known as plantar fasciitis, may be aggravated by walking barefoot, wearing shoes that lack enough support to remove strain from the plantar fascia itself, or by chronic irritation that can accompany impact activity such as walking, running, and jumping. Read more about support versus shock absorption when choosing insoles here.
Plantar fasciitis is treatable. Conservative treatment has a high success rate of curing heel pain. Unfortunately, the recurrence rate for plantar fasciitis is also quite high. This can be reduced by wearing supportive shoes, and possibly augmenting this support with arch support insoles. A relatively small number of cases of heel pain require advanced treatments such as surgery, laser treatments, or cryotherapy.
Only your doctor can determine if you are a candidate for these types of treatments. Don’t delay evaluation and treatment! The longer heel pain is left untreated, the longer the recovery time will be.
Flat foot or pes planus is a deformity of the foot that results in a flattened arch, occasionally with the sole of the foot resting almost entirely on the ground. Flat feet, commonly referred to as fallen arches, affect an estimated 20 to 30 percent of the general population. The condition can be asymptomatic and painless in many people. Yet in some others, the symptoms might range from mild discomfort to considerable pain that can intensify upon prolonged activity. Treatment for flat feet comprises of wearing well-fitting shoes that provide optimal support to the arches. Using the right footwear can be instrumental in alleviating the pain and discomfort experienced with flat-footedness. Understanding the underlying causes and symptoms of the condition can be instrumental in picking the right pair of shoes.
Other risk factors for adult-acquired flat foot include obesity, normal aging and pregnancy.
The most common symptoms are pain and discomfort, sometimes accompanied with swelling in the inner bottom of the foot. The lack of a supportive arch can put undue pressure on other parts of the foot during weight bearing thus restraining movement and affecting the posture. Fallen arches can cause damage to the tendons and ligament of the foot. They can also contribute to hip and back pain, arthritis and sprains.
Treatment is based on the underlying causes and severity of symptoms. A doctor might suggest simple conservative care that includes one or more of the following: • Compression with ice to reduce swelling and pain • Rest • Pain medications • Simple stretching exercises or foot gymnastics • Over-the-counter insoles or custom orthotics for arch support
Treatment for fallen arches may consist of wearing comfortable shoes that provide stability to the arch and heel area. A doctor might also recommend appropriate arch support insoles or custom orthotic devices that can be inserted into the shoes. The primary objective of footwear for flat feet should be to provide cushioning, control pronation (help balance the feet in a neutral position) and reduce friction of the foot within the shoe. Relying on soft arch supports that provide cushioning alone may be ineffective, as they will not be able to provide the strong support that the arches need. Finding suitable shoes can pose a challenge for people with a flat foot. The arch of the foot serves as a shock absorption system. Generally speaking, flat feet roll inward and overpronate, thus hampering the natural shock absorbing capabilities of the arch. Shoes with added support are technically designed to provide reinforcement of the inner portion of the foot and make up for the absence of a normal arch. When looking for the right shoes, it is important to review their technical specifications to ensure that they provide the added support, stability and control needed. There are various different types of shoes to consider, some may be more effective than others.
Another option for those with a more severe flatfoot deformity would be to purchase high-quality orthopedic shoes with hard-heel counters and steel shanks. Many reputable companies also offer orthopedic shoes with other unique features, such as built-in orthotic insoles, heel-locking mechanisms, stiff heel counters and well padded collars. Unfortunately, the firmness of many of these types of shoes can make them uncomfortable for those unaccustomed to this. Their style and appearance (or lack thereof) can also deter people from purchasing them.
In cases of severe pronation, motion control running shoes can be an ideal solution, as they are designed to provide more support and control than stability running shoes. They are crafted specifically to keep the ankle straight while moving and comprise of a dual-density foam that is injected right below the medial side of the arch. While this can often be an ideal choice for some with moderate to severe flat feet, the large amount of motion control found in this type of shoe can occasionally be difficult to adjust to, and is sometimes felt to be too restrictive. It is imperative to try these types of shoes for yourself before purchasing them for this reason. A stability running shoe with a reinforcing arch support insole may be a better option for those who can not tolerate the restrictiveness of a motion-control shoe.
Yes, there are many new "Doctor Recommended" types of sandals out there with more arch support than traditional sandals. For many people, the arch support built into these sandals is enough for their foot to function properly. Unfortunately however, because sandals inherently lack some of the most important structures of a regular shoe that also provide support, ie. a back and laces, they still may not be supportive enough for someone with flat feet. If you give some of these sandals a try, be sure to start slow and only wear them for short periods of time in the beginning to be sure they are supportive enough for your feet.
Choosing the right running shoe isn't always a simple task, but investing the time to find the best running shoes to keep your feet happy is always time well spent. Keep these "rules of engagement" in mind when buying a new pair of running shoes:
1)KEEP SHOES TIED "JUST RIGHT" Shoes should be properly laced without restricting the foot's movement. Note any chafing or fit issues in the store. Improper fit or lacing won't improve on the road.
2) RUNNING SHOE DESIGN AND MANUFACTURER COMPATIBILITY According to a spokesperson for the Shoe Review Committee of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, design characteristics and shoe dimensions differ by manufacturer. Comparing these features can help you identify the "likely suspects" of brands and models you should be picking from. This can help avoid sore feet in the long run. If your feet are comfortable with a certain brand of athletic shoe, the odds are higher that another style in the same brand will be comfortable as well. You can also ask your podiatrist about the running shoes they recommend for you. There's likely a specific shoe that could benefit you if you have a foot condition (heel pain, arthritis, sore feet, etc). Occasionally, over the counter arch support insoles can be of benefit if your doctor has recommended them for your type of foot.
3) GETTING FIT Joe Pulleo and Patrick Milroy ("Running Anatomy") say that running shoe fit is often a subjective assessment. Consider how your shoes fit now and how much mileage your running shoes must support over the next training season. Aches and pains in the legs and feet can occur several days after buying new running shoes. That's because some shoe fit issues surface relatively quickly after purchase. "A shoe model (that's) not correct for a runner's biomechanics, weight, flexibility or foot shape: discomfort or injury will occur within the first 100 miles of running."
4) CHECK FOREFOOT FLEX APPEAL The flexibility of the forefoot portion of new running shoes is crucial, says Simone Payment ("What Happens to Your Body When You Run?"). This portion of the shoe actually determines the compatibility of the shoe to your foot. To test flexibility, bend the shoe (holding the forefoot and heel). Then, compare the "flex point" of foot with that of the shoe. The shoe should not bend in any other spot but the ball of your foot.
5) THE TIME HAS COME--FOR NEW SHOES If existing running shoes have already logged 300 to 500 miles, it's time to buy new shoes. According to "Running Well" authors Sam Murphy and Sarah Connors, prolong the life of running shoes with good care. Don't wash them in the washer or rinse after a run. Allow wet shoes to dry naturally, away from radiators, before the next use.
BEWARE OF THESE RUNNING SHOE-BUYING MISTAKES Chances are you've already made some of these mistakes. Remember, buying a gorgeous pair of bright green running shoes that don't fit isn't just a financial mistake:
MISTAKE #1: Choosing form or style over function. Stores catering to runners understand that runners love fashion. However, experienced running store owners often suggest the shoes they believe fit you best, say authors Jeff Galloway and Barbara Galloway ("Women's Guide to Running") The wrong shoes can also cause serious problems, e.g. stress fractures and strains.
MISTAKE #2: Forget to ask about running club, employer and other discounts. Let's face it. Running shoes are expensive. Don't be afraid to ask for loyalty discounts.
MISTAKE #3: Buy the wrong size running shoe. Running shoe sizes vary by design and manufacturer. Be aware that your size may be very different from one brand and style to the next.
MISTAKE #4: Purchase running shoes without enough time to find the right shoes. Don't shop for running shoes without the time to try on enough shoes and ask questions. If you're more alert and energetic in the morning, take that into consideration before shopping.
MISTAKE #5: Buying online one pair at a time. Some online shoe retailers (Zappos.com is one) offer free shipping and free returns on most purchases. Not sure which size is right for you? Order the same shoe in multiple sizes. You can always try them all on when they arrive, and simply return the sizes that don't fit.
If you play sports or you’re a runner, chances are you’ve had a few ankle injuries that kept you off the field for a few weeks – and maybe put you on crutches for a while. Ankle sprains are the most common type of injury that takes a runner or athlete out of the game, but overuse injuries including tendonitis, heel pain, and stress fractures may not be far behind. Unfortunately, a sprained ankle can cause ongoing discomfort even after healing – and it can be a source of ongoing problems. That’s why many sports medicine doctors often recommend supporting the ankle by taping it or wearing an ankle brace during sports activity following an injury. But, which is better – athletic ankle taping or bracing?
Squeezing a 20 minute workout into your day might seem impossible, but it’s easier than you think. A lunchtime walk can not only provide more physical benefits than the same amount of time spent on a treadmill at the gym, it can also give you a much needed break in a world filled with distractions and emergencies. Why not keep a pair of sneakers and insoles in your office space as an easy reminder? Walking is fantastic exercise which gets you from here to there, making it the perfect workout for busy people.