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Foot pain: Sarah’s flat feet but high hopes

Foot Pain
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My Experience: Flat feet but high hopes

Patient experience: flat feetWith all the other bits and pieces on our body to look after, sometimes feet can be forgotten – they are all the way down there, after all. But when Sarah started noticing annoying knee pain and blisters popping up in unlikely places, the doctor found the source was none other than her flat feet. Sarah and her parents soon realised the humble foot also needs love and care … as well as a pair of well-fitted shoes.

At the ‘foot’ of the mountain

Sarah says she first realised something wasn’t right when her knees started hurting.

“You can also get hip problems,” Sarah says.

“When you have flat feet it actually pushes the whole alignment of your leg out of whack.”

Sarah also says she would get bad knee pain when doing sport, and as she got older her friends told her she had a ‘funny run’.

“I was never too conscious as a child but now I focus on keeping my legs straight when I run, instead of having them shooting outwards,” she laughs. “Some kids got spots – I just got flat feet.

“I also experienced a growth spurt around 11 and my feet grew to the size they are now, so I felt like a duck. I should have done swimming or something!”

If you or your kids are experiencing these symptoms, there’s no reason you have to start swimming or stop running.

Why have my feet forsaken me?

Flat feetSarah says flat feet aren’t genetic and no one else in her family really has problems in this area. However, external factors can worsen your foot faux-pas.

“One of the things that contributed to my flat feet was bad shoes,” she says.

“My parents were super busy and so when we went to get shoes, they just bought four pairs of different sizes, so I could just start wearing the bigger size as my feet grew. Like school shoes and sneakers.

“I just had a row of shoes to grow into.

“The physio said that was really bad, that you can’t just let a child decide when to change their shoes – they have to be fitted properly.

“So parents should get their children’s shoes fitted properly every year.”

Even now, if Sarah goes on long walks with only thongs and no real support for her arches, she says she can’t walk the next morning because the pain is so severe.

Also, Sarah says people experiencing pain from flat feet should avoid running on concrete and instead run on the beach. This is a good exercise to strengthen the arches of your feet.

And who doesn’t like long walks on the beach?

Be sweet to your feet

Flat feetSarah’s doctor sent her to the physiotherapist, who initially gave her insoles. Unfortunately, she says that while it helped a little, it really didn’t solve the problem, especially because she has extremely flat feet.

“They’re so flat that it almost looks like I have an extra ankle because that bottom bone juts out,” she says.

“So I also wore ankle boots for a while, to support the ankle and arch.

“But what really started to help was the exercises the physio gave me to do. One of them included using a ‘Saturn’-like piece of equipment, which was like a ball with a ring around it and it rotates. You have to try and keep it still while standing on it, so it helps strengthen the ankles.

“I also had a little stepper, just the small one. They can be really fun as kids, you don’t mind doing them so much.”

For parents trying to get your kids to do their foot- and ankle-strengthening exercises, Sarah says it helps if you do it with them, if you have time.

“It can tone your bum too, so even parents can get something out of it!”

Carrie Bradshaw, eat your heart out

Sarah actually says the most helpful aid to her flat feet is high heels.

Flat feet“Since I turned 16, one thing I’ve really noticed is that it helps wearing high heels, and now I wear high heels every day,” she says.

“It’s the one thing that helps me walk for hours and hours, and I never get sore feet and my arches have improved with them. It forces you to tense your feet and use your muscles.

“So I would suggest always wearing something with a bit of a heel on them. Even if get ballet flats with a heel on them, it will really help.

“Stay fit and healthy, too, because if you’re overweight, you’re putting more pressure on your ankles and feet. Also, if you’re going hiking, wear properly fitted hiking boots.”

Finding your footing

Sarah says that even now, at 29 years old, she still does her exercises every day and it continues to help.

You too can help your feet – just lift your hopes and hike that mountain. Walking around is the most common physical activity, and you have do it your whole life, so take care of your feet and they’ll take care of you.

More information

Knee pain
For more information on knee pain including risk factors, statistics, progression, diagnosis and treatment, see Knee Pain
Hip pain For more information on hip pain including risk factors, statistics, progression, diagnosis and treatment, see Hip Pain.

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Posted On: 12 October, 2010
Modified On: 20 April, 2011

Created by: myVMC