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What is meant by the term ‘flat feet’?

Person getting some much needed attention for their flat feet

In previous generations, the term used to be associated with your local bobby (police officer). Back then, it was common for police officers to ‘pound the beat’, which meant walking the streets of their local area. The intention was to be a visible deterrent; in those days, the police were much more involved with and ingrained within their local communities.

Old police photo. Photo by Andy lambert
Photo by Andy lambert

Given that your local bobby would spend hours walking up and down the town/village that made up their jurisdiction, it used to be said that they had ‘flat feet’. It even became a bit of an in-joke with young people, that if they suffered from the condition (a result of their arches not forming properly in childbirth), they would be a perfect candidate for law enforcement when they grew up! (If, as a child, the arches fail to develop at birth, they can still appear at around six years of age.)

Though often used in jest, flat feet (sometimes referred to as ‘fallen arches’) was a common ailment of police officers during that time (and people in professions that saw them spend a lot of time on their feet). Extended periods spent walking or standing during their shifts meant that the arches of police officers’ feet took a lot of pressure, which, in some, caused them to collapse. Without an arch offering support, the bones of your feet sink lower and take more impact, which can make walking painful.

Having flat feet doesn’t automatically mean a life spent in pain though. For those who do feel pain and discomfort from the condition, the sensation is similar to that of someone suffering from plantar fasciitis, and it predominantly affects the heel or arch of the foot.

Flat feet can affect balance and mobility, in more severe cases. Our arches absorb a certain amount of shock and impact, and they allow the feet to flex more easily. With flat feet, the entire foot has to weather all the impact. It’s common for sufferers to experience ankle pain and injuries, as the condition can cause the lower limbs and feet to feel numb or weak.

Customer having their flat feet sorted at Treat Your Feet Wombwell

Unless your flat feet are negatively impacting your life, it’s not worth any corrective surgery (which would only be offered in extreme circumstances anyway). Products such as gel inserts and similar insoles can mimic an arch and provide some cushioning against the wear and tear of daily activity. It’s also a good idea if you have flat feet to regular carry out stretching exercises, where you flex your sole then contract your toes underneath your feet, which essentially stretches then retracts the tendons and muscles of your arches. It probably goes without saying that you should avoid shoes 4everyone else. You’d therefore need to give your feet room to spread out and not feel constrained. This may also help your balance.

Signs that you may be developing flat feet include consistent cramp in your legs, a noticeable change in your gait, and pain when your foot is flat to the floor.

There are other simple treatments that we can recommend that we’ve not listed here. If you experience any pain in your feet, come into one of our clinics and let us take a look. Call us on 01226 492412 (Wombwell) or 0113 238 0330 (Morley).


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