Do Your Flat Feet Need Orthotics?
Do you feel like a duck sometimes walking knock-kneed and on the inside of your feet? Has someone told you that you have flat feet? Have they also told you that you should get orthotics?
This is a common question I get from many patients I see in our physiotherapy practice in Burnaby, and the straightforward answer is, it depends. Clear as mud? Don’t worry, you will get a clear answer at the end of this article!
Do You Have Pain?
The first question to ask yourself is, are you experiencing any pain or discomfort in the foot, ankles, knees, or hips? If the answer is no, then you probably don’t need any type of orthotics. The connective tissues and muscles of your body have been able to adapt to your regular weight-bearing needs.
If the answer is yes, then something needs to be done. One major consideration to take into account from working with different people is the cost of an orthotic. I often don’t recommend custom-made orthotics right away since it costs about $400-$500 to get one made here in Canada. Not everyone is covered by insurance, and that is a lot of money to spend out of your own pocket.
Try Taping Up The Arches
So, the cost-effective method to manage this is to first test and see if having extra support will relieve the pain in your foot, ankle, knee, or hip. Grab some athletic tape, or Leuko P tape and cover roll. Tape up the arches of your foot and leave it on for a day or two. Here’s how to do it:
Measure out about 5- 6 inches of the tape and cut 2-3 strips. If you are using leukotape and cover roll, stick the cover roll midway from the bottom of your foot and wrap it around the inside of your foot and paste it down on the top.
Do the same thing with the second piece to cover up the rest of the arch. Now grab the Leukotape P and stick one end on the bottom, then bring it around the inside of your arch and pull up before pasting it down at the top of your foot. Grab the 2nd piece and overlap it a bit over the first piece following the same process of starting at the bottom, pulling up along the inside arch, and pasting down at the top.
When you stand up, you should feel a decent lift on the inside of your arch. If you are using athletic tape, just follow the same process starting from the Leuko P taping step.
You can take a look at how to do this tape job on our YouTube video here:
Try Off-the-shelf Orthotics
Notice if taping helps decrease the pain and discomfort in your joints. If this does, then go ahead and purchase some off-the-shelf orthotics for flat feet. I generally like SuperFeet, I find that it is a good quality product and not very cumbersome.
But, you can choose any brand you like. Try off-the-shelf orthotics for a few weeks and see if they work to decrease the pain and discomfort. If it does, then great, no custom orthotic required!
If it has decreased the pain but hasn’t taken it away, or those off-the-shelf ones didn’t do anything for you, then I would recommend seeing a physiotherapist and determine if you have any issues with your musculature and mechanics. For example, weak and unstable hips can cause your knees to fall inward resulting in you putting more pressure on the inside of your foot leading to a flat foot.
Another possible cause for your flat foot can be a weakness of the muscles and other structures supporting the arches of the foot. This includes structures like the plantar fascia, the intrinsic foot muscles, and the tibialis posterior muscles to name a few. Other causes for flat feet include:
1) Being overweight
Once you are able to obtain proper strength, control, and alignment at the different joints, less force is placed on the inside of your foot reducing pain caused by flat feet.
Finally, Try Custom-made Orthotics
If the strengthening and off-the-shelf orthotics still haven’t fixed your pain, then I would go for a custom-made orthotic. A custom-made orthotic is expensive because a personalized cast is made of your foot, or a profile of your dynamic foot strike is used. The information collected is used to determine where extra forces are placed during your walk or run.
They use the information to help design an orthotic that allows for optimal alignment and force distribution for your foot and ankle. As well, they use different materials on different areas of the orthotic depending on where support is required, and where softer and harder materials are needed for your comfort.
Our Burnaby physiotherapy services near Metrotown does not offer custom-made orthotics, but we can help you determine if you do need a pair and we will refer you to someone that can make one.