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A Tale of Fallen Arches and Flat Feet

By Gary Picariello

There I was, shuffling along with a bounce in my step, and the next thing I know I feel like my feet have been replaced by bathroom tiles. Actually I'd been running barefoot on the beach. A lot. For all the good I felt it was doing, the sand, surf and slight incline of the surface were taking a toll on my arches. In quick succession, I began experiencing pain in one foot and then the other followed by my heels, arches, calves -- all the way up to my knees. 

Over One Million Served

My aches and pains weren't an isolated case.  A recent study revealed that over 8 million men and women ages 21 and older suffer from fallen arches while nearly 18 million men and women in the same age bracket suffer from flat feet. At least I was in good company! I fit the profile perfectly: Years of walking, running and standing had given the smack-down to my foot's posterior tibial tendon (PTT), which runs along the inside of the ankle from just above the joint to the arch.

Go figure, the PTT provides the main support for the foot's arch. So what happens is that overworking the tendon can cause inflammation (tendonitis) and tearing. And you guessed it, once the tendon is damaged, the arch loses support and can flatten, resulting in “fallen arches.” 

Getting Back on Your Feet

Podiatrists classify flat feet and fallen arches into several categories but mobile/flexible flat foot is the most common in which the feet have too much flexibility in them and the sole becomes very unstable which, in turn, leads to stress on the joints of the leg and the muscles. While post-traumatic flat foot, on the other hand, results in the foot collapsing and pointing outward due to a rupture or partial rupture of the PTT.

Treatment for fallen arches varies. In my case there was a happy ending: heel cups in the rear of my shoes along with sturdy outer soles provided overall support for my heel, Achilles tendon, and instep. For others, comprehensive physiotherapy along with stretching and leg strengthening exercises may be in order.

Consult a medical professional to see what treatment will work best for you. 

To learn more about health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint in Glenview, Ill.

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