Do These Shoes Make My Feet Look Flat?

It’s a reasonable concern, I suppose, and one that is commonly brought into my NYC podiatry practice.  It’s the flat foot, low arch, fallen arch, and pancake foot.  Sometimes it is a new discovery, other patients may have noticed it since childhood.  The question is – is this a problem?  Tune in for another exciting episode of this controversial and most shocking blog.

The foot comes in many different shapes, sizes and forms.  Some feet have a really high arch, and some have a low arch.  Some are rigid, and others are flexible – sort of like people.  The arch itself is comprised of many different structures, including the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissue structures in the foot, as well as the plantar fascia. It is a common misconception that a foot with a very low arch should function poorly and be painful, which is not necessarily the case in many flat feet.  Foot function is dependent on many factors that start in the foot and work in concert with the entire spectrum of lower extremity joints.  A foot with a low arch tends, in general to feel better in a flat shoe, and flat footed runners are usually better distance runners due to the efficient weight distribution along the bottom of the foot.  The high arch foot tends to feel better in high-heeled shoes (score one for the Jimmy Choo’s) due to the pressure that is felt when the bottom of the foot is stretched.  As the pressure is primarily placed on the heel and ball of the foot, high arched runners are usually better sprinters, good for short distances.

So when are flat feet a problem, and can your NYC podiatrist help you dodge the draft?  Well, in 1947 a study was published that examined the feet of 3,600 Canadian Army recruits and found that, contrary to popular opinion, the flat-footed recruits were just as capable as their high arched brethren.  The study did find that the more flexible flat foot tended to be more symptomatic – which is still the case today.  Many patients find that when the arch collapses, pressure is exerted on the tendons, ligaments and plantar fascia, causing heel pain (plantar fasciitis), tendonitis, and some achy tired feet.  Treatment starts with a good custom orthotic, and if that fails, surgical treatments are available, although orthotics tend to be a great workaround for most patients.

So, if your feet are flatter than Bernie’s EKG, but are not painful, you may not need to worry.  Of course a visit to your friendly neighborhood NYC podiatrist can allay your fears, and may be a step to prevent future complications, and the draft board will never find out…

See you in the office.

Ernest Isaacson