Flat feet are common. However, many people assume that their feet are normally arched because they can see an arch from the seat and look at their feet. Even in flat feet, the foot curves inwardly into an arched position when seated.
This can confuse people into believing that the arch is higher. When standing or putting weight on the feet, flat feet should be evaluated. Flattening can sometimes be subtle but it still affects the foot's function.
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The best way to see the foot's structure is through X-rays taken from the ground, since the bones can show changes in their position that are not visible outside.
Flat feet can be treated in many ways. Some methods are more effective than others. For most people with flat feet, prescription shoe inserts work well. To build arch support, many people begin with over-the counter inserts.
This will not be sufficient for people who have more than a slight amount of flattening. To decrease flattening, most over-the-counter inserts use padding to press into the arch. The support level will decrease as the padding compresses when the weight of the body is placed on it.
Many over-the-counter inserts are made of plastic or composite materials that are more supportive but not customizable to each person's foot. This can lead to irritation.
Inserts must be made from a mold of the foot and held in a position that minimizes flattening to support the arch. These inserts, also known as orthotics, are used to stabilize flat feet across the country.
Orthotics can reduce over-flattening if they are properly made.