Are you one of the 30% of people with fallen arches, and are you in need of arch support? Then you'll know how tiring and painful that this condition can be.
Also known as having a flat foot (or feet), the symptoms can range from discomfort to pain. You might also experience problems walking.
The good news is that arch support is available to help you keep on moving around.
Here's everything you need to know about your fallen arches, and what your options are if you have this condition.
What Are Fallen Arches?
Normally, an adult foot has a slight 'bend' or 'arch' in its middle. This is formed by tendons pulling the tissues taut together to form the arch.
When this doesn't happen properly, the middle of the foot sinks downwards. The arch has 'fallen', hence the name.
You'll be able to tell if this happens because the middle of your foot will be able to feel the floor - press down against a cold floor, barefoot, and see if you can feel the coldness against all of your foot.
Fallen arches are sometimes a genetic problem. But they can also be caused by physical injury to your tendon, or broken bones. Some forms of arthritis may also cause fallen arches.
People who are diabetic or obese may be more at risk of fallen arches than people without these health problems.
Why are Fallen Arches a Problem?
Not all people with fallen arches find them painful or need extra support. But many do.
If you're not one of the lucky ones, you'll know that your feet get tired easily. The bottom of your feet may also swell up when you walk, and your feet may cramp or spasm.
Over time, if left untreated, feet can appear to be getting visibly flatter and may also feel weak, numb or stiff.
You might experience leg pain, and back pain when you're standing up for a long time. Bunions can develop too. If that's you, check out our bunion exercises to save yourself from further pain.
If you have any of these symptoms - especially the more serious things, like numb and stiff feet, you might want to get your feet checked out by a doctor.
There's no reason to be in such discomfort day after day - particularly when there are a number of arch support treatments for fallen arches. They're not overnight fixes but they will certainly help you to feel more comfortable.
What Arch Support Treatments are Available?
The number one treatment for arch injuries is simply good rest. Try to avoid putting too much weight on the foot, and don't walk barefoot for a while.
Painkillers can help you to deal with the discomfort, and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can help your tendons to recover. Losing weight can also help to reduce the stress on your arches, aiding recovery.
While you're recovering, it's a good idea to exercise your feet properly to help them get better faster.
Wearing good supportive shoes can also really help, as they can take the weight off your arches. Always make sure that your shoes are the right fit for you. It's not good for your feet to be moving around inside the shoe, particularly while you're doing sports. This can easily cause or exacerbate injuries.
Speaking of shoes, have you tried out supportive insoles yet? Supportive insoles can help to 'prop' up the arch of your feet. This aids tendon recovery, as your tendons don't have to pull up the arch while they're being supported.
The insoles will also stop your feet slipping or 'rolling' forwards while you walk, so they need to be durable enough to stop this from happening. They need to have some give to them so that they're comfortable. But they shouldn't be overly soft, or there's little point in wearing them.
The best insoles are ergonomic - meaning that they're specially made to hug the shape of the sole. They should be rigid enough to provide proper support, but soft enough to be comfortable.
There are several types of materials used to make insoles, and its worth experimenting to see what you're most comfortable with. After all, it doesn't take much material pushing into the side of your foot to agitate it while it's painful.
Gel insoles are fairly popular, though they can lose their rigidity after some use. Foam cushioning may be more so - though some people find it more comfortable than the gel type. There are other types of insoles using various types of padding out there too.
Whichever type you go with, make sure the underplate - the bit of material beneath the cushioning - is rigid enough to keep its form during use.
If your feet are really bad, we recommend you see your GP as soon as possible. They may be able to refer you to a doctor specialising in feet (a podiatrist), who can prescribe you with specially made (orthotic) insoles.
Where Can I Buy Arch Support?
Plenty of good shoe shops and online retailers sell insoles and can help to advise you on a suitable size for your needs.