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TIPS FOR RUNNING WITH FLAT FEET

Running has always been an important element of my fitness and cardio workout routine. I am not what you would consider to be a “serious” runner. I don’t do marathons or even 10k runs. I’m your basic weekend warrior out for a three-mile jog, three to four times a week. My feet are low arched, not quite flat feet but not normal either. And I am now in my 50’s so I’m beginning to feel the effects of all the pounding that my feet and lower extremities have taken over the years. If you’re a runner with flat feet, or nearly flat feet like me, this post has a few tips for you to reduce pain and keep running longer.

When somebody has flat feet, their foot has very little or no arch at all, compared to a person with normal feet and arches. There are several types of flat feet, all of which have one common characteristic, loss of the arch through partial or total collapse. Flexible flat feet are the most common type of flat foot. It usually occurs in both feet and progresses in severity throughout the adult years. Rigid flatfoot, while least common, is the most painful type and is usually associated with inflammation and complications with the tarsal bones of the feet.

INJURIES FROM RUNNING WITH FLAT FEET

It should not be surprising that many running injuries are foot-related as the foot, and the arches of the foot, are the first part of the body to absorb the shock of each step. Even for casual runners like me, this impact can add up over time. The forces absorbed by your feet while running are between three and seven times your body weight. That means the foot of a 150-pound runner absorbs 1,000 pounds or more of force for each foot strike.

In a Runner’s World article, Dr. Lloyd Smith, a sports podiatrist and past president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, said, “A lot of people who run, and run successfully, have flat feet. Yet we do know that people with flat feet have a greater chance of getting injured than people with normal-arched feet.” If you have flat feet, your entire sole comes into full contact with the ground putting strain on your ankles, muscles, ligaments and joints. Overtime, the uneven distribution of body weight can cause other types of overuse injuries. As a result, you may experience a general aching or fatigue in the foot or leg after running. Pain in the heel, arch, ankle or along the outside of the foot are also common. Over time there are various problems that can be caused by running with flat feet, including pain along the shin bone (shin splints), lower back, hip, and knee.

TIPS FOR RUNNING WITH FLAT FEET

  • Choose the correct running shoes. This is key for runners with flat feet. Motion control running shoes are good for runners with rigid flat feet, as this type of shoe will control your running motion and prevent any wrong movements. Stability running shoes are better for runners with flexible flat feet since they provide supportive features in the mid-sole area, specifically under the arch of the foot.
  • Avoid running on uneven surfaces. When you have flat feet, your feet turn outward when you run, putting additional pressure on your ankles and knee joints. Uneven ground can accentuate your pronation problem and make matters worse.
  • Support your ankles and feet when running. A recent LIVESTRONG article entitled “How To Run With Flat Feet” recommends adding orthotic arch support inserts into your running shoes. “Arch support insoles prevent your feet from overpronating when you run, giving extra support to the foot and ankle. The type of orthotic you need depends on the severity of your condition.”

One thing I’ve learned is that gel inserts don’t cut it when it comes to running with flat feet. I tried nearly every kind on the market. It’s why I decided to try a firm arch support. I went with SelectFlex because it’s customizable, allowing me to adjust the level of support I need. The results were really remarkable, but not surprising. A gel insole just isn’t capable of giving you the kind of support an adjustable, firm footbed can. With SelectFlex, my arches feel well supported and my ankles and feet feel better aligned. This has resulted in less overall foot fatigue after my run and a more rapid recovery, so I can get out there and hit the pavement the next day feeling more refreshed. What a great idea.

If you're looking to run farther with less pain, why not give SelectFlex a try?

HOW CAN I REDUCE JOINT PAIN CAUSED BY FLAT FEET

The human foot has 33 joints that hold together 26 different bones and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The arches of the feet provide the spring to your step and help to distribute body weight and all its compressive forces across your feet and legs. The structure of the foot arch determines how a person walks and needs to be both sturdy and flexible.

WHAT ARE FLAT FEET?

Flat feet, also known as pes planus or fallen arches, is a postural deformity that occurs when the arch of the foot collapses and comes into complete or near-complete contact with the ground. This condition may occur at the time of birth or develop over time as a result of aging or injury. Flat feet can usually be self-diagnosed, either by the “wet footprint test” or the “shoe inspection test.” Simply wet your feet and look at the wet imprint of your foot. The thicker the imprint between the heel and ball of the foot, the flatter the foot. By contrast, a high arch foot will only show your heel and the top part of your foot near your toes.

Similarly, if you inspect your shoes and see more wear on the inside of the soles, that would be evidence of flat feet. The shoe’s upper will also tend to lean inward over the sole as a result of the faulty foot mechanics. Flat feet are typically associated with excessive pronation of the foot. Overpronation occurs when the arch of the foot descends downward and inward as the foot strikes the ground. This overpronation causes the foot to be less able to absorb shock, placing greater stress on the feet, ankles, and knees.

FLAT FEET SYMPTOMS

If you are having problems with shin splints, back pain, your knees, or hips, you may want to consider looking at your feet as the cause. When you walk, you put as much as five times your body weight in force on each foot. If your foot doesn’t absorb that shock properly, it can cause other problems, and is why people with flat feet typically experience pain in the midfoot region.

If you have flat feet, your foot will tend to roll inward as you walk. That extra motion can create other stresses further up your legs. This pain tends to increase with activity and may also present swelling along the inner ankle and arch, as well as hip, knee, and lower back pain. Flat feet can also lead to tendinitis in your Achilles tendon because that tendon must over-compensate when you push off with your feet.

Overpronation can put unnecessary stress on your knees. When your foot over-pronates, your leg rotates inward causing the knee to flex and extend while pointing inward. This is not the normal direction for the knee and puts additional stress on the joint. Overpronation can also affect the hip joints. When the foot pronates, the leg rotates inward and the hip joints can become misaligned. This condition puts additional stress on the hip and on the entire leg muscles.

TREATMENTS FOR FLAT FEET

The treatment for flat feet, and joint pain associated with having flat feet, can vary. Physicians typically recommend a conservative approach, with surgery reserved for only the most server cases.

PROPER FOOTWEAR

Healthy footwear can play a significant role in reducing knee and hip pain associated with flat feet. High heels increase the risk of knee joint degeneration so try to always wear low-heeled shoes. However, flat shoes also need to be carefully considered as many do not provide adequate arch support and that can lead to knee, hip, and back pain.

When shopping for footwear, take the time to find a proper-fitting shoe as tight shoes can create foot pain and oversized shoes can affect your gait. Stability sneakers provide cushioning and help control over pronation. If knee and hip pain are due to poor foot mechanics, then proper footwear along with orthotic insoles can be a very effective way to relieve joint pain.

ORTHOTIC INSOLES

People with persistent or severe joint pain symptoms caused by flat feet may benefit from orthotic arch supports. Orthotic supports are used to modify the structure of your foot. While there are companies that manufacture custom corrective shoes, these are usually quite expensive. Similarly, custom orthotics prescribed by a podiatrist can also be costly and many people find them to be very rigid and uncomfortable.

If your condition is not too severe, you may get relief from the many different cushioning insoles sold at your local pharmacy. Just remember to replace them once their supporting cushioning becomes worn down as they will no longer be helpful. If your condition is a bit more severe or you are looking for a durable product that will not degrade quickly like foam or gel inserts, you may want to try a hybrid insole, like SelectFlex. SelectFlex gives you all the benefits of expensive custom orthotics at a fraction of the cost, and the adjustability feature of SelectFlex allows you to customize the level of arch support that your unique condition requires.

FOOT STRETCHES

There are many stretching exercises you can do to increase arch flexibility and strength and can be very helpful for people suffering from the side effects of flat feet. You can strengthen the intrinsic muscles in the foot by picking up marbles with your toes, stacking items with your toes, and writing numbers in the sand with your big toe. To stretch the plantar fascia ligament thereby improving arch flexibility and alleviating aches and pains, roll a golf ball forward and back under the arch of the foot, while seated. A runner’s stretch is also great to lengthen the calf muscle and Achilles tendon, both of which can cause pronation when tight.

OTHER TREATMENTS

Other exercises and therapeutic massage may also help with arch flexibility and pain relief. The downward dog yoga pose is great for lengthening and strengthening calf muscles and Achilles tendons. Heel cord stretching is a great exercise to stretch the Achilles tendon and posterior calf muscles, as a tight Achilles tendon will encourage the foot to roll inward.

Doctors may advise some people to rest until their symptoms improve and to avoid activities that could aggravate their condition. When obesity is the cause of flat feet, losing weight may improve the symptoms.

SEEKING TREATMENT FOR FLAT FEET

Know when to seek help from a medical professional. When pain is severe and interferes with your daily activities, it’s time to see the doctor for a thorough examination and treatment. If needed, flat foot surgery can provide permanent relief and may even create an arch where none existed. The surgical solution will ultimately be based upon your age, your exact symptoms, and the nature of your structural deformity.

ON YOUR FEET ALL DAY? HOW THIS NURSE REDUCED HER FOOT AND BACK PAIN

I love being a healthcare professional making a difference in improving patient’s lives and health. As a peri-operative nurse standing for long periods in the operating room, foot pain is the bane of every nurse’s existence. Even if you start your day with an infectious smile and positive attitude, being on your feet the entire 12-hour shift can turn even the most cheerful nurse into a grumpy one.

As I grow older, I constantly struggle with the physical demands of static posture, from continually standing in one position during lengthy surgical procedures and or awkward postures from tilting the head downwards for long periods of time.

Other workplace challenges range from carrying heavy instrument trays, bending down to reach the sterile field while scrubbed, assisting surgeons or the worst part of standing on hard work surfaces such as concrete, creating repetitive strain and pain in the feet from lack of arch support.

All surgical personnel are at risk for work-related musculoskeletal injuries. Simple foot and ankle pain can lead to disability and puts our careers at risk. But as we in the medical profession know, prevention is better than the cure.

The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) recently published a position statement outlining ergonomically healthy workplace practices. It outlined strategies to reduce the risk of repetitive injuries and provides guidelines for developing a preventative plan for an ergonomically healthy perioperative environment. Proper arch support was listed as one of the most important preventative health factors.

A COMMON PROBLEM

Imagine walking through the physical therapy (PT) department and seeing your coworker, a peri-operative nurse of 25 years, as the patient. Unfortunately, this scenario is more common than you think. Thirty-eight percent of nurses suffer from back pain so severe they must take time off from work and to 12% of nurses have such severe back pain that they must leave nursing altogether.

Past surveys have shown up to 54% of workplace injuries among nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides were musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The U.S. Department of Labor defines MSDs as injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, or spinal discs.

A recent study of 636 Japanese University nurses found foot and ankle pain was prevalent in 24% to 51% of staff. Respectively, the study also showed the prevalence of pain that prevented the nurses from performing daily living and work-related activities at 4% and 17%.

SOME GREAT NEWS

According to Nurse.com, 45% of women, 65% of men nurses wear running shoes to work. If you use this type of shoe, you can add a supportive insole that provides the kind of arch support you need to help reduce pain.

For me, having better arch support was the best way I found to prevent tired, painful feet, legs, and lower back at the end of a long shift. When my arches are properly supported, my whole body, and especially lower back, are aligned. I even noticed less neck pain. The best part was that without all this pain I felt like I had more energy at the end of the day.

There are a lot of shoe inserts out there that promise to provide arch support, but not all of them deliver. When I came across SelectFlex and saw it was customizable, I gave it a try. It’s PowerLift Arch dynamically lifts your foot arch with each step and corrects the foot’s tendency to roll inwardly or pronate. Up to 80% of the population’s feet tend to pronate, which throws off the body’s alignment. This gives you painful feet at the end of the day from misalignment. Plus, it’s adjustable so you can choose the level of support that works best for your feet.

Other inserts also fail to address the impacts of walking on a hard surface all day. I found SelectFlex stabilized my ankle as I walked, absorbing the impact throughout the day. For healthcare professionals who are constantly walking on hard hospital floors, this is a great product.

If you’ve ever looked into medical orthotics, you know how expensive they can be. What sealed the deal for me was when I learned SelectFlex costs one quarter of what medical orthotics cost. If you want to feel better, be more active and more productive, take a look at SelectFlex online at www.selectflex.com.