Pes planus is the medical term for flat feet. It comes from Latin, Pes = foot and Planus = plain, level ground. Very few people suffer from this condition, as a true flat foot is very rare. Less than
5% of the population has flat feet. The majority of the population, however, has fallen arches (an estimated 60-70% of the population) known in the medical profession as ?excess pronation? or
over-pronation. Over-pronation means the foot and ankle tend to roll inwards and the arch collapses with weight-bearing. This is a quite a destructive position for the foot to function in and may
cause a wide variety of foot, leg and lower back conditions.
There has been some speculation as to whether arch height has an effect on pronation. After conducting a study at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Maggie Boozer suggests that people with
higher arches tend to pronate to a greater degree. However, the generally accepted view by professionals is that the most pronation is present in those with lower arch heights. To complicate matters,
one study done by Hylton Menz at the University of Western Sydney-Macarthur suggests that the methods for measuring arch height and determining whether someone is ?flat-footed? or ?high-arched? are
unreliable. He says, ?For this reason, studies investigating the relationship between static arch height motion of the rearfoot have consistently found that such a classification system is a poor
predictor of dynamic rearfoot function.
Symptoms can manifest in many different ways. The associated conditions depend on the individual lifestyle of each patient. Here is a list of some of the conditions associated with over Pronation.
Hallux Abducto Valgus (bunions). Hallux Rigidus (stiff 1st toe). Arch Pain. Heel Pain (plantar Facsitus). Metatarsalgia (ball of the foot pain). Ankle Sprains. Shin Splints. Achilles Tendonitis.
Osteochondrosis. Knee Pain. Corns & Calluses. Flat Feet. Hammer Toes.
When sitting, an over-pronating foot appears quite normal, i.e. showing a normal arch with room under the underside of the foot. The moment you get up and put weight on your feet the situation
changes: the arches lower and the ankle slightly turns inwards. When you walk or run more weight is placed on the feet compared to standing and over-pronation will become more evident. When walking
barefoot on tiles or timber floors over-pronation is more visible, compared to walking on carpet or grass.
Non Surgical Treatment
If a young child is diagnosed with overpronation braces and custom orthotics can be, conjunction with strengthening and stretching exercises, to realign the bones of the foot. These treatments may
have to continue until the child has stopped growing, and orthotics may need to be worn for life in order to prevent the foot reverting to an overpronated state. Wearing shoes that properly support
the foot, particularly the arch, is one of the most effective treatments for overpronation. Custom-made orthotic inserts can also be very beneficial. They too support the arch and distribute body
weight correctly throughout the foot. Motion-control shoes that prohibit pronation can be worn, so may be useful for those with severe overpronation. One good treatment is to walk barefoot as often
as possible. Not relying on shoes to support the arch will encourage proper muscle use. Practicing yoga can help to correct poor posture and teach you how to stand with your weight balanced evenly
across the whole foot.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your surgeon may recommend one or more treatment options. Ultimately, however, it's YOUR decision as to which makes the most sense to you. There are many
resources available online and elsewhere for you to research the various options and make an informed decision.