“Flat feet” or pes planus is a term we hear thrown around quite a bit. Many patients plop down in my podiatry chair each day and proclaim “I have flat feet”. What they are describing is a foot that has no arch and sometimes the whole bottom of the foot touches the floor when walking. Well, “flat feet” by itself is not much of a diagnosis, it is more of a description of the foot’s position. Additionally, a foot that is flattened has often been considered a foot that is prone to problems and this is likely why many years ago the military avoided recruits with flat feet. It should be noted that people with overly high arches are more prone to problems as well.
A foot that appears flat when standing and walking may actually have an arch when the foot is at rest and off of the ground. This is called a functionally flat foot and this simply describes how the foot moves when walking. Many children appear to have flat feet because they have not developed their bone structure enough to have an arch and for a few children this can lead to pain. (If your child is having arch or heel pain, please see a podiatrist for evaluation.)
Some great athletes have flat feet and it is possible to get through life with flat feet and little problems. However, there are some common complications that occur when walking in this foot position:
- Heel pain
It is my recommendation, as a podiatrist, that if you have flat feet you should at least get an assessment of your feet before you have problems.