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What Causes Flat Feet to Occur?

If you think about it, our feet are marvels of engineering. The design of the foot is extremely intricate. The arches in our feet provide support, balance, and flexibility. However, not everyone gets to experience the benefits of arches. Some people are born with, or develop, flat feet.

Many people believe that having flat feet is just a congenital disability. While it’s true that some babies are born with flat feet, it’s also possible to develop this condition during your lifetime. Although flat feet aren’t necessarily a problem, this condition can affect the body’s alignment and eventually lead to pain in the ankles, knees, and hips.

That being said, it’s important to take measures to prevent the development of flat feet. The first step in preventing flat feet is understanding what causes the condition. If you already have flat feet, pursuing treatment will decrease the likelihood of any adverse effects on your health.

Improper Development

Flat feet are generally inherited. Arches in the feet develop when the tendons holding the joints together tighten. Flat feet occur when the tendons around the joints remain loose. Although flat feet are typically painless throughout the earliest stages of life, they can eventually affect mobility and lead to muscular imbalances, resulting in pain.

Natural Causes

Over time, our bodies undergo natural wear and tear, and our feet are no exception to that. This is especially evident in older patients. Their arches may gradually lose their height and strength over time. 

Natural arch degradation will eventually lead to flat feet. Wear and tear is inevitable, especially if you work a labor-intensive job where you are often on your feet. This highlights the importance of regular foot monitoring, especially as we age. If you start noticing your foot arch decreasing, seek treatment early to avoid any further issues.

Sports and Trauma

High-impact activities can cause physical trauma to the body. Not all sports cause flat feet. Participation in certain sports, such as those involving repetitive high-impact activities (like running and jumping), usually plays a role in developing flat feet. Sports like track, basketball, soccer, and gymnastics put continuous stress and pressure on the feet. Over time, the supporting structure can become weak. 

The repetitive impact, combined with the strain of weight-bearing activities, will begin to flatten the foot's natural arch. Plus, any sports-related injuries that affect the tendons and ligaments within the foot will also disrupt the foot’s biomechanics, leading to an additional loss of arch support.

As an athlete, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do to prevent flat feet. Emphasizing proper footwear and promptly seeking medical attention in the case of an injury can mitigate the risk of developing flat feet. 

Acute Injury

Flat feet can also result from acute injuries that harm the integrity of the foot's natural arch. Tendon tears, commonly caused by sports-related activities or traumatic incidents (like an accident), can contribute to the collapse of the arch. 

You can’t always avoid injuries, especially if they result from an accident like a bad fall or a car crash. However, understanding the relationship between acute injuries and flat feet may encourage you to pursue quick medical attention and proper rehabilitation.

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage, also known as “peripheral neuropathy,” is another common cause of flat feet. Nerve damage causes numbness in the foot and can greatly affect the foot’s structure and support. Because it affects the arch integrity of your foot, you shouldn’t ignore numbness when you begin experiencing it. Take it as a sign to seek help from a medical professional. 

Contact Teton Foot and Ankle Center

Flat feet seem relatively harmless, but they can significantly impact the quality, eventually interfering with your daily activities. If you or a loved one is experiencing the negative effects of flat feet, schedule an appointment with us today. We specialize in comprehensive foot and ankle care and offer expert assistance for a wide range of conditions. Our team at Teton Foot and Ankle Care is dedicated to providing personalized and effective solutions. You deserve a life free of pain, and you can count on us to help you put your best foot forward. 

Published online: Mar 01, 2024

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