Falling flat: flat feet and custom orthotics

Flat feet are more common than you may think. Around 6% of Canadians have flat feet, also known as fallen arches. All babies and most children up to the age of 6 have naturally flat feet, after which they develop a foot arch.

Your foot arch acts as a shock absorber when you walk, spreading the impact of your foot hitting the ground across the whole foot. If you have flat feet, your foot arch doesn’t absorb as much of that impact, so that shock is transferred to your knees and hips. The result is that if you have flat feet, you may experience sore knees, hips, ankles, back, and even a sore neck after walking or standing.

The good news is that custom orthotics can provide precisely the support your feet need, to help relieve pain, correct your balance, and improve your gait. Custom orthotics are moulded to exactly fit your feet, and slip into your normal shoes or boots.

At Hunt Footcare, we crafted thousands of custom-made orthotics for our patients over the years, and the results of these simple orthotic devices never ceases to amaze us and delight our patients. Call us to arrange an appointment, or see our custom orthotics page for more details.

What are flat feet?

Many adults with flat feet (also known as pes planus or flatfoot) don’t experience any problems, and you may not even be aware you have them.

You can check at home if you have flatfoot. Take off your shoes and socks and stand on a flat hard surface in your bare feet. Now look at the inner side of your foot.

  • If the inside (instep) of your foot is touching the ground, you probably have flat feet.
  • If you foot forms a natural arch lifting the inside of your foot off the floor, you probably do not have flat feet.

If you think you have flat feet and it’s affecting your lifestyle, call us for an appointment at one of our three local foot clinics. At Hunt Footcare we will assess your gait (how you walk) and examine your feet when you are standing, sitting and walking. We can then advise on how to relieve any symptoms such as leg cramps, leg or foot muscle pain, heel pain and ankle pain.

Types of flat feet

Most people have flexible flat feet. This is when you can see an arch in your foot when you’re sitting down, but it disappears when you stand up. Flexible flat feet tend to get worse as you age, and might result in damage to the tendons in the arches of your feet.

If you have rigid flat feet, you don’t have a foot arch whether sitting or standing. This can be painful, and you may find it difficult to flex your foot.

In either case, make an appointment to see us to discuss how custom orthotics can help provide the support your feet need and which your natural foot arch isn’t providing at present.

What causes flat feet?

Most people just have flat feet because that’s the natural shape of their foot. Flat feet are probably genetic and can run in families, so you might have inherited the gene for flat feet.

If you develop flat feet after your teens, it may be due to an injury or being overweight. Equally, if one of your arches drops suddenly, it may be due to a tear or inflamed posterior tibial tendon which normally supports your medial longitudinal foot arch.

If you have flat feet and you also:

  • Experience stiff, weak or numb feet
  • Are prone to ankle or foot injuries
  • Find it difficult to walk or balance

Consult your physician or make an appointment with us here at Hunt Footcare.

Custom orthotics for flat feet

Custom orthotics are insoles that slip into your normal footwear. Custom-moulded to your feet by our podiatrists, high quality orthotics provide tailor-made support and alignment to your feet.

Unlike over the counter insoles, custom orthotics are created from a mould of your feet rather than a generic foot shape or size. At Hunt Footcare, we will take a mould of your feet and use it to create a custom-fitted orthotic that is unique to you. As feet are very rarely symmetrical, our custom moulding ensures a perfect fit on both feet!

Custom orthotics don’t physically change the shape of your feet. They help resolve gait (walking) caused by flat feet and other conditions such as plantar fasciitis by providing support to your arch and realigning your feet so that you walk more efficiently. This will reduce the strain on your legs, knees and ankles, improve your balance, and generally make walking easier and (usually) pain-free.

Athletes and sportspeople also use custom orthotics in their sports footwear to improve the foot position for their particular sport. Olympic athlete Usian Bolt has flat feet – and it’s not held him back! We have created custom orthotics for elite athletes and ‘weekend warriors’ alike, for a range of sports from track running to curling.

And finally … can I join the Canadian military if I have flat feet?

In today’s military, having flat feet will not instantly disqualify you for entry unless it is severe and affects your capabilities. One study found that this only applied to 3% of cases of people with flat feet.

If you join the regular Canadian army, you may be prescribed and provided with custom orthotics to put into your boots. Reservists will need to provide their own, according to a post at army.ca.


Custom orthotics from Hunt Footcare

If you think you’d benefit from custom orthotics, or are concerned about leg and ankle pain after walking, hiking or other activities, just contact us for an appointment. Or see our Custom Orthotics page for more details.

Published On: April 28, 2023