A fallen arch or flatfoot is known medically as pes planus. The foot loses the gently curving arch on the inner side of the sole, just in front of the heel. If this arch is flattened only when standing and returns when the foot is lifted off the ground, the condition is called flexible pes planus or flexible flatfoot. If the arch disappears in both foot positions, standing and elevated, the condition is called rigid pes planus or rigid flatfoot.
Plantar fasciitis, another sports injury detailed on this website, is regularly the cause of foot arch pain or strain. This can arise due to faulty biomechanics in your feet, which alone can also provoke foot arch pains. The most prominent biomechanical difficulties are flat feet and high arches. With flat feet (or overpronation) the arches appear to be almost flattened, causing unevenness by forcing the feet roll inwards in order to maintain balance and support the body's weight. This places inordinate pressure on the plantar fascia and arches. If by contrast you have high arches (instep), the ankle can roll outwards, again causing undue strain on the arches. Too much of this strain can lead to stretching of the plantar fascia and pain in the arches. Other causes include overstretching or otherwise pressuring the arches, for example by exercising with fatigued leg muscles which leave the feet with excessive work to do. You are also particularly at risk if in your 40s or 50s and commencing an intense program of training after a long period of inactivity.
Arch pain symptoms could include any of the following, a dull, constant ache if the ligaments have been stretched, swelling or tenderness in the foot, redness or bruising in the event of a more serious injury, difficulty putting weight on the foot, sharp pain when the foot is turned or manipulated, tenderness when pressure is applied. Because the arch of the foot is such a complex structure, arch pain could be an indicator of several different types of injuries. Chronic illnesses such as arthritis could also cause arch pain, and depending on the cause or source of your pain, you may experience discomfort in a variety of different areas. Ask a doctor if you believe you may have injured your foot arch.
The doctor will examine your feet for foot flexibility and range of motion and feel for any tenderness or bony abnormalities. Depending on the results of this physical examination, foot X-rays may be recommended. X-rays are always performed in a young child with rigid flatfeet and in an adult with acquired flatfeet due to trauma.
Non Surgical Treatment
Flat feet in a child do not need treatment if they are not causing pain or walking problems. Your child's feet will grow and develop the same, whether special shoes, shoe inserts, heel cups, or wedges are used. Your child may walk barefoot, run or jump, or do any other activity without making the flat feet worse. In older children and adults, flexible flat feet that do not cause pain or walking problems do not need further treatment. If you have pain due to flexible flat feet, the following may help. An arch-support (orthotic) that you put in your shoe. You can buy this at the store or have it custom-made. Special shoes. Rigid or painful flat feet need to be checked by a health care provider. The treatment depends on the cause of the flat feet. For tarsal coalition, treatment starts with rest and possibly a cast. Surgery may be needed if pain does not improve. In more severe cases, surgery may be needed to clean or repair the tendon, fuse joints in the foot into a corrected position. Flat feet in older adults can be treated with pain relievers, orthotics, and sometimes surgery.
Surgery may be necessary in situations where the symptoms are likely to get worse over time, or when pain and instability cannot be corrected with external orthopedic devices. There are many types of surgical procedures, including cavus foot reconstruction, which can be performed to correct the foot and the ankle and restore function and muscle balance.
To prevent arch pain, it is important to build up slowly to your exercise routine while wearing arch supports inside training shoes. By undertaking these simple measures you can prevent the discomfort of arch pain which can otherwise linger for many months. While you allow the foot to recover, it will help to undertake low impact exercises (such as swimming or water aerobics).
Massage therapy is a great way to loosen muscles and help improve mobility in in your feet. As many people with foot pain have discovered, tight muscles in your legs or back can lead to tense foot muscles. All those muscles are connected, so tension in your back can cause tension in your legs which can pull the tendons in your feet and cause stiffness and pain. Getting acupuncture or a professional full body massage are probably the best ways to deal with this, but there are also some simple tricks you can do at home to help keep muscles limber. These are great for loosening up and improving circulation, both before and after exercise. Place a tennis ball under the arch of your bare foot and roll it around, stretching the muscles in your foot and promoting blood flow. You can also roll the ball under your calves and upper legs to work out stiffness and knots. If you feel the tennis ball is too easy, try a lacrosse ball for deeper massaging. This is also demonstrated in the exercise video above. Use a foam roller, those big overpriced rolls of foam that are now available in every department and sporting goods store are fantastic for self-massage (why a roll of foam costs $30 is beyond us, but they do work wonders-our advice is to not waste money on the more expensive fancy grooved ones because even the simplest rollers work great). The exercises you can do with foam rollers seem to be endless, and there are literally hundreds of free videos online showing how to use them to massage every part of your body. Here's one we picked out that specifically targets foot and leg muscles related to arches and plantar fasciitis.