The average person will walk the equivalent of three trips around the earth in their lifetime. If you find yourself dealing with flat feet, that may seem a bit daunting! Each year in the U.S., roughly three million people report having flat feet, a condition in which the arches of the foot are flatter than usual. Flat feet can cause pain, swelling, achiness, and can cause feet to tire quickly. While this condition is often easily managed, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Don’t let these myths steer you off course in doing what you can to correct your flat feet and getting out there on the trail!
Myth #1: Flat feet are caused by wearing the wrong types of shoes
Flat feet are caused by a variety of factors including genetics, increased age or weight, weak muscles in the feet and legs, or just simple wear and tear. While wearing shoes with proper arch support helps relieve pressure on the tendons within your arch, the type of shoes you wear has no bearing on your arch shape and whether or not you develop flat feet.
Myth #2: People with flat feet shouldn’t run
Another common myth is that running with flat feet causes more pain and worsens the condition. However, people can run very successfully with flat feet. In fact, many marathon runners and sprinters have flat feet. Over-pronation (rolling the foot too far inward) and weak muscles in the feet and legs are the primary causes of pain while running, not arch shape. Flat feet are actually more flexible and shock-absorbent than feet with higher arches, so don’t let your flat feet discourage you from hitting the trails.
Myth #3: Orthotics or surgery are the only ways to help flat feet
In most cases, flat feet can be helped without orthotics or surgery. There are many simple stretches you can do to strengthen muscles in your feet and legs, which will help decrease any discomfort or problems caused by flat feet. Another simple solution to flat feet are compression socks, which ease foot pain and discomfort by providing stability and support to the arch. Compression socks also increase blood flow to foot and leg muscles, which reduces pain and swelling by improving circulation to those areas.
Myth #4: Only people with flat feet need arch support
The foot bears the weight of the entire body, making the arch the most important structure in the foot. With each step, the arch absorbs the body’s stress and stabilizes its weight, so arch support is crucial for all types of feet.
Proper arch support can help to prevent a variety of foot problems including muscle strains, shin splints, and stress fractures, but it doesn’t have to be expensive or uncomfortable. Before turning to orthotics, surgery, or pricey shoes to correct your flat feet, try doing stretches to strengthen the tendons in your feet, slip on a pair of Run Forever Sports compression socks for arch support, and get back out there!
Rebekah Glupker contributed to this story.