Flat feet, also known as flatfoot, is a physical imperfection where one or both feet have minimal or no arch support. With flat feet, the pads of the feet press firmly into the ground while standing. Most people who have flat feet experience little discomfort and can maintain an active lifestyle. If flat feet causes discomfort, however, there are some treatment options that may reduce discomfort or strengthen the muscles along the bottom of the feet.


The arches in the feet develop during the first few years of life. Bones and joints are flexible in young children and may cause the bottom of the feet to lack curvature. As a child's body matures, the arch along the bottom of each foot will develop. In some cases, the arch may not develop. Additional causes of flat feet are obesity, injuries, arthritis, pregnancy, and aging.

When To Seek Treatment

A rigid foot is one that lacks an arch, both while standing and while seated. Definition along the bottom of the foot will not be present. A flexible foot is one that lacks an arch while standing. With a flexible foot, an arch may be visible when an individual is seated and their feet are raised.

Treatment for flat feet is most often sought by individuals who are experiencing rigid foot characteristics. Rigid feet are prone to develop calluses and joint pain may make it difficult to wear shoes for long periods of time. When pain is present, an individual may experience difficulty with maintaining mobility. The discomfort may lead to walking with an abnormal gait. As a result, poor posture could become apparent. An orthopedist is able to diagnose a foot condition and recommend corrective shoes or exercises that will reduce discomfort.

Footwear And Exercises

Orthotics are prescription medical devices that are worn within a pair of shoes. Orthotics may support the bottom of the foot and provide comfort. Orthotic shoes contain built-in support systems. Systems may include cushioned liners or sleeves that keep the feet aligned. During use, it may be easier for someone to walk, run, and maintain their posture.

An arch support is a separate device that may contain a strap or a pocket. An arch support can be worn with or without shoes. Heel stretches, arch lifts, calf raises, and golf or tennis ball rolls are some exercises that are designed to strengthen the muscles that run along the bottom of the feet. An orthopedist will examine a patient's feet and recommend support aids and exercises that will be suitable for the individual's needs.