Flipper Feet: Understanding and Caring for Flat Feet
Flat feet can be a burden, but they don’t have to be a curse. Understand the challenges of having flat feet and use these tips to care for them.
Flat feet are misshaped and cause misalignment in your legs and hips. In all fairness, our flat feet are doing the best that they can under their circumstances. Helping your “flipper feet” to perform at their best, therefore your best, requires some special attention.
Within the realm of genes, our skeletal structure is the most difficult to affect, and within our skeletons, our feet take the most abuse. Some of us are blessed with strong feet that are built with a high arch and instep; a strong football aligned with the heel, and perfectly shaped toes.
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On the other hand, most of us have some disadvantage to our feet. One of the worst afflictions is a completely flat foot, which if not managed correctly will afflict the body with knee, hip, back and neck pain. This circuit can eventually affect mobility, which then creates a laundry list of other damaging health conditions.
Flat feet are such a disadvantage that “flat foots” have historically been exempted from military service and are a huge detriment for jobs which require walking, running, long periods of standing, and the participation in sports (with the exception of swimming where flat feet are actually an advantage).
The long-term effects of flat feet are chronic pain, damage to the spine and systemic inflammation. As we age, these ailments become more commonplace and can eventually affect our quality of life in middle and senior years.
No one wants to end up being pushed around in a wheel chair because of some malady that he or she could have had a hand in preventing. So if you have flat feet, use this information to your advantage and start caring for your frying pan feet now.
How to prevent flat feet from destroying your health
Flat Feet Tip #1: Know Your Feet and their Movement
First, the issue of misalignment may be mitigated by the type and brand of shoe you wear. Know your feet! Do your ankles roll in or do you walk on the outside of your foot? What about your toes – do they all lay flat when your foot is on the floor?
And your ankles – a shortened Achilles tendon is one of the most common side effects of flat feet. It would be best to begin your quest for flat foot and body re-alignment with a visit to a podiatrist. Your doctor will look at your feet, take measurements, and provide very useful suggestions for what to do and not do.
Personally, my podiatrist advised that I have “the flattest feet” she “has ever seen in her entire career.” Sort of a daunting comment but not insurmountable.
Flat Feet Tip #2: Exercise and Care for them properly.
Second is the application of specific foot exercises. These reps are really good for almost all feet, but they are especially important to flat footer.
These are not walking or running exercises, but isolated exercises that target specifically your feet. You can do some of these in the morning when you wake up, while sitting at a desk, before sports, while taking a walk, and before going to sleep. These exercises are tippy toes, toe curls, heel dip, golf ball roll, toe lift, foam roller, and foot massage.
All are easy, inexpensive or even free.
If you suffer from foot pain, below is a brief list of remedies:
- Know when to get help. When pain interferes with activities, it’s time to see the doctor for a thorough exam and treatment.
- Ask your doctor or a physical therapist to show you stretches that can prepare you for feet-intensive activities.
- Limit or treat risk factors that can make fallen arches or flat feet worse, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
- Avoid activities that put excessive stress on your feet, such as running on roads.
- Avoid high-impact sports such as volleyball, basketball, rugby, handball, soccer, and tennis.
Here is a list of exercises I like to do:
- Walking on the balls of my feet like tippy toeing, like sneaking through my parents house.
- You can set a towel on the floor and to start pinching it with your toes to strengthen and lengthen the ligaments as you open and close your curling toes.
- Place the ball of your foot on an edge of a rise no higher than 2 inches and, while leaning into your foot, to gently apply pressure to stretch your Achilles tendon.
- When you squat, make sure your weight is on your heel so you can are elevate your toes off the ground.
Below is a list of shoe brands that I recommend for flat feet. Not all shoes are built the same and not all brands fit the foot in the same way. Flat footers need to try on shoes before buying and wearing them. Online shopping for shoes is not the best way to go.
These brands have the most styles that work for flat feet:
- Reebook Nano’s (great for a sense of “barefoot” training)
- New Balance Minimus (also good for “barefoot”)
- Inov8 Bare XF210
General brands that have models good for flat feet: Addias, Brooks, Reeboks, Mizuno, Puma
Sports that are good for flat footers: Swimming, Bicycling, Weight training, Crew. Almost any sport with low foot impact. Walking is good as long as you have the correct foot support.
Finally, high impact sports for those of us with flat feet are not an impossibility. One needs only to apply some logic and common sense.
- Appropriate footwear is a must – not what is cool or fashionable.
- Know your feet and therefore your skeleton – if it feels like damage is being done it probably is.
- Follow the advice of your doctor – don’t play roulette with your future well-being.
If a high impact sport is not right for you, find some other exercises. Be creative. Your feet are the key to your overall good health.
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