Most of the flat-footed people do not experience problems from the fallen arches on their feet. However, runners with flat feet are very likely to suffer from overpronation or other related running injuries.
With flat feet, you tend to exert more strain on the ball of the foot and heels which may result in injuries especially when running. If you’re a runner with flat feet, this guide is meant for you. It answers some important questions you might be asking about flat-footed runners.
Runners with Flat Feet
A person is said to have flat feet when the medial longitudinal arch (MLA) in their feet flattens. The tendons connecting the heel to the forefoot tend to relax leaving little or no curve under your feet. So, there’ll be no space between the ground and the sole whenever your foot hits the ground.
How Do Flat Feet Affect Running?
- Causes Overpronation
Collapsed foot arches are to be blamed for the tendency of foot ankles to roll inwards. Excessive inward rolling puts a lot of strain to your big toe and the second toe since they bear the brunt of pushing off the ground.
Overpronation is more pronounced in runners because of the high landing impacts involved during running. Thus, they are likely to suffer shin splint due to excessive tibial stress.
- Affects Your Stability
Fallen arches contribute considerably to lack of stability when standing, walking or running. They lead to a misalignment of joints at the knees, ankles and the hip. This in turn affects your stability especially when running.
- Loss of Springiness
Flat feet have a poor shock absorption ability. That’s because they lack the necessary springiness or elasticity to absorb the impact shocks during landing. This leads to pain especially on your back, thighs and calves.
- Ineffective Gait
When you have flat feet, the center of gravity of your body is affected due to the tendency of your feet to roll inwards. This is turn leads to ineffective walking or running gait. A study on the use custom orthotics by flat-footed individuals showed an improvement in their gait ability.
Signs of Flat Feet
Flat feet do not always result to injuries or discomfort. In fact some people may not experience any discomfort. However, effects may develop slowly and progress to severe levels where you start feeling pain.
Earlier cognizance of flat feet condition can help you embark on effective measures for preventing the effects associated with it. Below are some indicators you can use to tell whether you have the flat feet condition.
- Your feet tend to roll inwards.
- Pain on your back, hips or knees
- Arch pain which worsens when walking or running
- Your feet may feel heavy and clumsy
- In extreme cases you may experience problems in your lower body joints
Flat Feet Testing
You can easily determine the type of your foot arch with simple steps.
- Footprint Test
If you step on a flat surface with wet feet, you will leave a foot print showing how your feet land. A flat foot leaves a complete shape of the foot with no or less inward curve. A normal arch will be indicated by a slight inward curve. For high arches, the imprint appears with a deep inward curve.
- Gait Analysis
Gait analysis tests provide an accurate diagnosis of walking or running conditions including overpronation. They can be used to tell whether your feet are effectively absorbing shock. You can get tested at your nearest sports shoes shop.
- Shoe Analysis
Since flat-footed people tend to overpronate (foot rolls inwards), their shoes wear more on the inner part of the shoe.
Treatment for Flat Feet
Although flat feet can prove problematic for some people, others may go about the daily activities without any issue. If you don’t have issues with your flat feet, then you may not need any intervention.
Below are some remedies for runners with flat feet.
With the collapsed foot arches, your feet lose the springiness necessary for shock absorption during running. However, this can be compensated by wearing shoes that are designed with arch support.
Arch support also prevents excessive inward rolling which in turn eases the tension in the tendon.
Orthotics for arch support work in a similar way as arch support running shoes. They prevent excessive inward rolling by supporting foot arches.
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to ease pain and reduce inflammation.
- Lifestyle Change
People with obesity are very likely to have flat feet. If this is the cause of your flat feet condition, then you can solve it adopting healthy eating habits. Plus you should do exercise to reduce excessive weight.
Surgery is the last resort for resolving flat feet problems. It’s a corrective remedy aimed at repairing the tendons or creating an arch. If the bones failed to develop properly during childhood, they can separated through surgery.
As you have seen, flat feet results in overpronation, which is also associated with running injuries. Luckily, this can be corrected by getting the correct running shoes or adding orthotics to your shoes.