In a study of adults 40 and older, over 26% of the survey group reported having flat feet.
When you consider how many people have flat feet but have yet to realize it, that number is probably higher. Oftentimes, people with no symptoms or mild symptoms don't realize that their flat feet, also known as fallen arches, could become the source of pain.
Fortunately, there are measures that can be taken to decrease or prevent the spreading of flat foot pain. But first, you need to know if you have flat feet, in the first place!
Read on to discover how to tell if you have flat feet.
How To Tell If You Have Flat Feet
There are a few signs and increased risk factors that may indicate that you have flat feet. We'll walk you through those signs and factors to narrow in on how to tell if you're flat-footed.
What To Look For in Flat Feet
If you've ever wondered, "Do I have flat feet?" you can try some of these tests at home.
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For most people, when they rest their feet flat on the ground, there should be a slight lift or arch in the inner soles of their feet. If you suspect that you have flat feet, stand up straight, balancing evenly on both feet, and have someone take a look.
If the entire sole of your foot, including that inner length where an arch should be, touches the ground, then you may have flat feet.
Another easy way to identify flat feet is by standing on your tiptoes. Have someone examine the backs of your feet while in this position.
If an arch forms, your foot is flexible and should be okay. If no arch forms, then you probably have flat feet.
If you don't have anyone with you to help inspect your feet, there are a few tests you can perform on your own.
Put Your Feet to the Test On Your Own
If you have access to an area of clean concrete that is safe to traverse barefoot, try performing the footprint test. Wet your feet with a garden hose or bottle of water and walk across the concrete.
If you have proper arches, your footprint will appear partial--that is, the ball and heel of the print will be connected by a strip on the outer edge that is half or less than half the length of the ball and heel. If that connecting strip is as wide as the ball of your foot, you are lacking an arch.
You can also try the toe test by standing with your back to a mirror, feet parallel and balancing in a way that feels natural to you. Look at your feet in the mirror. If you don't have flat feet, you will not see more than your pinky toes from this angle.
The toe test can also help you to evaluate whether one foot is flatter than the other. Maybe on your right foot, you can see your pinky toe and your fourth toe from this angle but on your left, you can see the pinky, fourth, and third toes. This would indicate that your left foot is flatter than your right.
If any of these tests have positive results--meaning that you do appear to have flat feet--it's in your best interest to visit a doctor, who can perform medical tests to determine how severe your flat-footedness is and what to do next.
What Causes Flat Feet?
While flat feet can be hereditary, it is also possible to develop fallen arches later in life.
If you or your spouse have flat feet, don't assume that your children will automatically inherit this trait. In fact, flat feet are present in nearly all infants and arches can take up to ten years to develop. In other words, don't panic if your child still has flat feet by age seven or eight.
Wear and tear throughout your life can also lead to weakened tendons in the foot, leading to fallen arches. There are a few risk factors that can increase the possibility of flat feet later in life.
Obesity or injuries to the foot or ankle can vastly increase the possibility of flat feet. Other risk factors include aging, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Oftentimes, these conditions can cause so many symptoms that we overlook the damage they are causing to our feet.
Flat Feet Disadvantages
If you have fallen arches, it can affect the way you carry yourself on a regular basis, potentially leading to aches, pains, and even serious injuries. This is especially the case when people don't know about or don't properly treat their flat feet.
Some of the most common issues that arise out of flat-footedness are ankle and knee pain. This type of joint pain results from the way your ankle rotates to compensate for your fallen arches. It may begin as a dull ache but can progress into a constant, sharp pain that limits your mobility.
Another common issue is heel inflammation, known as plantar fasciitis. It may feel like your heels are bruised or even as though you are stepping on needles. Plantar fasciitis is treatable but should be taken seriously.
Other common disadvantages of flat-footedness are Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and inflamed or ruptured tendons in the lower legs.
If you are experiencing symptoms that may be attributable to flat feet, read more about these problems and their treatments.
What You Should Do Next
Knowing how to tell if you have flat feet is only the first step. Now, it's important that you look into possible medical treatment.
While many people with flat feet experience minimal pain as a result, this may not always be the case. Even if you aren't suffering from even the mildest symptoms, you should visit a doctor specializing in podiatry to learn about preventative measures and treatments that are available to you.
Ready to walk with a little more pep in your step? Contact our office and set up an appointment with Dr. Petkov today.