Your feet are your foundation...Your base of support. When your base of support isn't stable, that affects your posture. And this instability can affect your ankles, knees, hips, and back. Plus. according to research, flat feet can account for regular, severe headaches. Even migraines! In fact, expert say that posture issues cause up to 25% of migraine headaches. Weakness in your feet causes the muscles in your lower limbs to contract for longer periods of time. The signals from the overloaded muscles can overwhelm your brain. Then, the blood vessels in your brain become inflamed and you're left with a pounding pain. In my Houston, TX podiatry practice, I see this quite often. I get referrals every day for people with back, hip pain and knee pain, and, even headaches. And they have no other causes than postural issues. What I look for in these patients are how their feet manage pressures.
Diagnosing Flat Feet
How do I do that? By taking a weight-bearing x-ray (taken while you stand.) That way, I am able to look at your bone structure and how your foot manages while bearing weight. By watching you walk, I'm can also look for the height of your arch. And the angle your foot bears weight in, plus how your heel rolls with each step.
While I can surgically correct a flat foot, I rarely recommend that procedure. The recovery is very long. Instead, I take a more conservative approach--making a custom orthotic. An orthotic is a custom insole which addresses the cause of your instability. I make it after a comprehensive biomechanical exam. So my orthotics provide stability and efficiency to your feet and legs. This will calm down the muscles that are working overtime, getting them to a more normal level. This would also solve any postural conditions that created your painful headaches. If you're ever told that "nothing is wrong" when you're suffering with pain, ask your doctor to watch you walk. Relief may be a referral to a podiatrist away.
Yoga for Flat Feet
Running cab be painful when you have flat feet. So you'll likely want orthotics to keep on training (see below.) Meanwhile, you may want to try yoga training. Check out these three yoga moves designed to help relive flat foot pain.
Flat feet can contribute to heel pain, as your arches tug at your plantar fascia. (These are bands running along the bottom of your feet.) Yoga can help by stretching out your calf muscles and your Achilles tendon.
These 3 moves are ideal, according to yoga experts at PopSugar.com:
- Sit on a block or a rolled-up blanket with your knees bent, so that your toes point behind you, next to your hips.
- While in this pose, use your thumbs to massage into the bottom of your feet.
- Try this pose for about three minutes, and work up to five minutes over time.
- Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart and one foot in front of the other.
- While standing, squeeze the toes of your front foot toward the heel, making your foot shorter.
- Repeat on the other foot. Try this for about one minute per foot.
Crescent Lunge Pose
- Stand with one foot about 3-4 inches in front of the other foot.
- Slightly bend your front knee and keep your front foot flat on the mat.
- Lift your back heel.
- Raise your arms toward the sky with your gaze slightly lifted.
- Try holding this position for one minute before repeating on the opposite sides.
Why We Prescribe Orthotics
Once you come in for foot pain (or head pain) we may suggest you get a pair of custom orthotics, as we mentioned above. These devices correct your foot's positioning. And this is likely a large contributor to the initial onset of your pain. As we mentioned, custom orthotics are inserts that slide into your shoes. But unlike over the counter inserts, we build custom orthotics for your body. They're designed after we take a cast impression of your foot so we customize their every detail.
When casting your foot, we will hold that foot in the neutral position. That way, when the cast is complete, it represents your foot's optimal functioning.
Holding your foot is important. Each foot joint compensates for any imbalances or abnormal joint positions. So, if you have had your feet scanned on a plate or while you walk across a mat, your orthotic may not work well. These methods capture an image of your foot. But it's in a position where your foot is already compensating for imbalances. Which means those expensive inserts become ineffective.
That's not the case with our custom orthotics. We cut a mold that optimizes your biomechanical function. And we can even customize the top shell of your orthotic. We can extend it to make room to accommodate your foot shape. And we can choose materials that work best with the type of shoes in which you'll wear these orthotics.
Heck, we can also help you choose custom padding for your orthotics. If you don't have natural fat pads in your heel, we can remove some of the orthotic’s shell. Then, we'll fill that void with gel or foam, reducing the hardness you’d feel in the heel of the orthotic.
Is pain in the front of your foot a problem? You may want to place padding behind the ball of your foot. This will help take some of the load off your forefoot when you walk and stand. You may also opt for extra arch padding—there are so many choices when you opt for a custom orthotic!
If you're wondering if a custom orthotic is the right choice for you, come in for an evaluation. Dr. Schneider will perform a comprehensive evaluation and gait analysis. He'll let you know what the right choice is to get you out of pain, no matter where it is.