Like many people, I suffer from fallen arches, also known as “flat feet”. It’s not something I had noticed until my late teenage/young adult years as I’ve never really worn high heels so just assumed that the pain from wearing them was due to infrequent wear and not because I have very low arches in my feet.
When I was pregnant with Little Man I started becoming more susceptible to ankle sprains and whilst pregnant (last trimester) with Little Miss, I badly sprained my left ankle walking home one night by missing a step on to the pavement from crossing a road. I remember the crunching sound was so loud I thought I broke my whole ankle but surprisingly was still able to hobble home with a 15mins walk. It swelled that nice and became extremely painful when I got home and sat down.
I carried out the RICE method (rest, ice, compress, elevate) and eventually made an appointment to see the GP but it was too late. The GP confirmed I had torn the whole ligament and because I left it so long (3 months post sprain), it will never fully heal as I was supposed to strengthen the ankle and foot muscles as soon as the ankle was healing and had no pain. Since then I have been extremely cautious – even now, my ankle sometimes gives way and I get mini-sprains but I can carry on with normal activities.
With my low foot arch and being prone to ankle sprains what else? I also suffer from over-pronation. What’s that you ask? Over-pronation is when the feet roll/tilt inwards either due to foot alignment or fallen arches. This can cause knee and hip problems in some people. I think most people with flat feet would suffer from some degree of over-pronation. Stability shoes are recommended for us over-pronators but they usually look bulky or just plain ugly.
So how can you relieve flat feet pain?
There’s many different ways but here are five ways which I think are simple yet practical and effective…
1. Choose shoes that support your feet
Working as a spa therapist, I am always on my feet and on top of that, either in bare feet or super flat shoes. Standing for long periods of time can also take its toll on flat feet, resulting in flat feet pain.
Recently I started suffering from really bad feet pain and I couldn’t understand why. After coming home from work I would soak and massage my feet, rest them but they were still in pain. It then dawned on me that it could be due to standing for prolonged periods, combined with flat shoes that offer no support. So I did some research and looked for decent-looking shoes with support. I first checked out Sketchers as my sister said they’re a good brand for support shoes but I wasn’t attracted to any of the designs. They either looked really ugly but practical or just plain bulky. Their trainers looked nice but unfortunately we are not allowed trainers at the spa.
I then discovered FitFlop and saw they had a few nice designs. I’ve always wanted a pair but could never afford buying at full price but they currently have a spring offer on and found a pair I absolutely love!
The Übernit Bow Ballerinas shoe is not only cute, it’s also practical and super comfortable. The breathable knit material is comfy, soft on the skin and lightweight making it ideal for a warm spa environment. The soles are slip-resistance which helps when performing massages so no more need to do it barefoot on hard floors!
The shoes are ergonomically designed to provide maximum comfort, thanks to FitFlop’s Anatomicush technology. They give my fallen arches that extra bit of support. Since wearing these babies, my feet don’t hurt as much by the end of the day and some days they stop hurting at all so result! If you work a job that requires you to be standing, walking or just being on your feet all day definitely have a look for a shoe that has good cushioning to give you support and avoid those super flat shoes at all cost. They may look pretty but in the long run, they’ll do more harm than good.
2. Strengthen your (foot) muscles
A no-brainer here. If you experience pain in your feet, it could be due to weakened muscles. Just like any other muscle in your body, the muscles in your feet also need to be worked on and strengthened, especially considering how much we actually use it.
Like our gluteal muscles (bum muscles in layman’s terms) – they are one of the largest muscle groups in our body but are the least worked. The muscles weaken, eventually cause a posterior imbalance that leads to lower back pain and other postural issues. You can find many foot strengthening exercises online; the most popular ones are:
- Toe curls “toe-towel pickup”
- Heel lifts
- Inner and outer edge rolls
Check out this article by Runtastic which has all the exercises above plus a couple more. Ideally aimed at runners but can be for anyone with feet pain. You can also find a couple of other exercises on Arthritis Research UK which also gives you a printable PDF option.
3. See a foot specialist (podiatrist, also known as a chiropodist)
If you’re lucky enough to be referred on the NHS then great but if you’re like me then you will need to look private. According to my local complementary therapies centre, Blackheath Complementary Health Centre who does offer chiropody/podiatry services, an initial 30mins consultation will set you back around £45 and follow-ups around £40 for 30mins. This is quite a reasonable price as I have seen some places charging a lot more by the hour.
Some footwear stores, especially running trainer stores like Asics offer free gait analysis checks in store so you can see discover the pronation of your feet; which would be either over-pronated (feet roll in), under-pronated (feet roll out) or neutral (neutral alignment). If you love going for a jog or run, or run professionally then choosing footwear best suited your pronation can improve your performance and help with stability.
**update** I had my podiatrist appointment and she told me that my feet and femur are anatomically misaligned so there is a natural deformation of the bones – that caused my over pronation and with also having flat feet, my feet are basically F’ed up. She told me I can no longer wear flip flops and I have to buy only stability trainers/shoes from brands like Skechers, Fitflop or Asics and choose the footwear that offers good arch support. That, and the constant wear of orthotic insoles that I can get from Amazon for around £10.
4. Treat your feet to some R&R
Having a good foot soak once a week is a brilliant thing to do and we really should take the effort to make time for our feet.
Feet get neglected a lot until summer when people want pedicures to show off their cute tootsies but it’s not good enough. I’ve set myself a new wellbeing task of treating my body monthly to some good ol’ pampering. Either I do it myself, or if I have a bit of cash then book in for a treatment. In winter, I treated my toes to paraffin wax pedicures which was AMAZING. If you don’t know about this treatment then google it and get ready to book yourself one asap!
Anyone can carry out a good foot soak at home, either in the bath or with a bowl of warm/hot but not boiling water and add in some bubble bath and you’re good to go. You can get fancy and add in bath salts or epsom salts which help refresh tired feet and even essential oils. Finish off the treat by drying feet thoroughly with a towel and massaging in a nourishing foot cream or oil. Put on socks to help the products penetrate a little deeper into the skin.
If you prefer something more luxury, have a look for a foot spa, you can get a decent one from Amazon for around £30-40 but check whether it can be used with bath salts or scrubs if you intend on using those.
5. Put the skyscraper heels away!
High heels can give feet pain due to the curvature of the arch in high heels design. Swelling can offer, especially around the ankles due to pressure.
Most people with flat feet will find that they can’t wear high heels or any heels over four inches because of the shortened arch muscles. As the arch is low or completely flat, it cannot extend properly to accommodate the height and curvature of high heels.
Medium, low or kitten heels are the best options for flat-feeters wanting heels. Alternatively, if you crave the height you may be able to get away with blocky platform heels as they offer additional height to the whole foot and the chunky heel provides more stability.
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