Do Orthotics Really Work for Flat Feet? - Pros & Cons - Shoes Resolved (2022)

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Sara Lindberg

June 25, 2021

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Do Orthotics Really Work for Flat Feet? - Pros & Cons - Shoes Resolved (2)

Do orthotics really work for flat feet? How to find the best orthotic for yourself? Which foot orthotics are best for my flat feet? These are some of the most common questions asked by people with flat feet.

(Video) The Big Lie About Flat Feet & Custom Arch Support! (Updated)

If you have flat feet, you might have been suggested tons of time to get yourself customized orthotics. But most people are confused about it if the orthotics really work or not. Well, here in this article we are going to share with you all the details regarding orthotics.

Flat feet is a condition under which one or both feet lose the arches. It is also referred to as feet pronation. If you have flat feet with no negative symptoms, there is a chance for you to go through life without any major issues.

However, if you have foot or knee pain caused by flat feet, you need to do something about it else the things are going to be worse.

Who needs orthotics?

As we mentioned earlier, there could be two possible conditions of flat feet, one with no prominent symptoms, while the other has multiple negative symptoms.

Most people with flat feet find it comfortable to live with the condition. But there are rare cases where flat feet could be a nightmare for many. Flat feet can induce severe foot or ankle pain that leads to knee pain as well.

Moreover, it can also cause difficulty in standing or walking properly. At this point when your daily life activities are getting affected, the customized orthotics are the best option for you. (But it is highly suggested to go for physical therapy or stretching exercising in addition to getting foot orthotics)

However, if you’re not experiencing any pain or disturbance due to your flat feet, then there is no need to go for foot orthotics. In this condition, it’s better to do exercises and stretch for flat feet to strengthen the arch muscles.

Read our guide on how to strengthen flat feet without any professional help.

Are orthotics effective?

The short and simple answer is yes, orthotics are much effective for flat feet. However, if you’re considering them as the ultimate treatment for flat feet, you’re totally mistaken.

Orthotics work when you’re wearing shoes and obviously you can’t wear shoes 24/7. These support insoles can help you minimize the stress on your feet. Moreover, these can also assist you waling or standing for long periods of time.

(Video) Can Orthotics fix Flat Feet

If you’re a runner, custom made orthotics could be the best temporary solution. Just get yourself orthotics according to your condition and use them whenever you’re taking part in some race or sport.

Orthotics lessen the stress on your feet hence minimize the pain when you’re walking or standing.

Pain caused by flat feet cannot be permanently healed with orthotics. For that, you may need to consult a podiatrist or do stretching exercises on regular basis. This will not only strengthen your foot muscles but also minimize the pain.

How do orthotics work?

Orthotics are custom made insoles that are inserted inside your shoes. When you wear shoes, these insoles provide you with better stability and support. These insoles help your feet in maintaining the fallen arches and keeping the feet steady.

The doctor or podiatrist helps you find the best orthotics according to your needs. No other person with flat feet can use the same orthotics as yours because these are totally customized.

Moreover, orthotics are usually recommended in addition to other therapies. The doctor could prescribe you some anti-inflammatory drugs or may suggest you get physical therapy along with trying out orthotics.

Causes of flat feet

Two major causes or conditions that lead to flat feet. These conditions are based on muscle tone.

Low muscle tone

In this condition, the ligaments are too stretchy and flexible that allow the bones and muscles to move more than the normal range, i.e. Ehlers–Danlos syndrome.

High muscle tone

In this condition, the Achilles tendon is shorter than the normal length that caused more rigid stretching.

All of the below mentioned causes lie in one of these two conditions.

(Video) Arch Supports Can Worsen Your Flat Feet – Dr. Berg's Opinion on Arch Support for Flat Feet

Obesity

According to research, obesity is one of the most common causes of adult-acquired flat feet. As the body gain weight, the pressure on the feet increases. This increased pressure can cause the arch to collapse, ultimately leading to flat feet.

The arches are responsible for bearing body weight and also act as shock absorbers. When the strain increases on arches, they can collapse.

Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction

PTTD is a medical condition that affects one of the most crucial tendons of the foot; the posterior tibial tendon. That’s from where its name is generated. If a person has flat feet caused by PTTD, he/she may feel pain in the foot or along the back calf.

The tendons present in the foot are mainly responsible for supporting the arch. If the tendons are torn or get injured, it can lead to a collapsed arch. This way, the person can acquire flat feet that is painful, especially when walking or standing.

Diabetes

The next major cause of flat feet in adults is diabetes. Most people are aware of what diabetes is and how it can affect your body. A person who is diabetic has a higher chance of developing foot problems and infections.

People with diabetes usually have less feeling or sensation in their feet, making the condition worse because they’re unable to sense the problem at the initial stage. This complexity can cause chronic bone damage and even lead to a severely deformed foot that may need surgery.

Hereditary

Genetics plays a highly crucial role in physical development. Most of the medical conditions present today have a genetic aspect related to them. Flat feet, too, is one of the most common medical conditions that is caused by genetics.

The most common genetic conditions related to flat feet include:

  • Calcaneovalgus (excessively bent up calf bone)
  • Dyspraxia (a developmental condition that slows down the physical development in infants)
  • Congenital vertical talus (congenital flat foot)
  • Hypermobility (abnormally increased joint mobility)
  • Ehlers –Danlos syndrome (joint hypermobility, abnormally elastic skin and fragile tissues)
  • Tarsal Coalitions (fused foot bones)

Injury

Injuries are one of the common causes that lead to physical disabilities. Flat feet can also be caused by injury, regardless of how major or minor it is. If the injury affects the tendons in your foot, there are higher chances of the arch collapsing.

Lisfranc injury is the kind of injury that affects the middle of the foot. This is highly painful and can cause serious trouble for the bearer.

(Video) Doesn't a Supportive Orthotic Come With My Running Shoes?

Apart from injuries, a severe workout can also cause flat feet. That is why sportsmen and athletes have a higher rate of flat feet than other people

Pregnancy

Women gain weight during pregnancy, which is the sole reason why most women experience flat feet during pregnancy. However, this condition is temporary and the flat feet come back to their original shape once the delivery is carried out.

Flat feet during pregnancy can be hurtful for many as the strain on the feet increases. Foot massage is the best remedy to relieve the temporary pain and to lessen the strain.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis is one of the painful body conditions and people who have experienced it, know it very well. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the types of arthritis that can cause flat feet. In this arthritis, the cartilage becomes inflamed and causes the foot to lose its arch.

Rheumatoid is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and inflames the joints, especially the foot joints.

Ageing

Ageing is another factor leading to flat feet. As the body grows older, its connective tissues lose flexibility. This too can lead to a flattened arch. Moreover, the tendons supporting the arch can also become weak as the person grows older. Both of these conditions ultimately lead to flat feet.

Marfan’s syndrome

Marfan’s syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissues. It is usually diagnosed in the late 30s as the body starts to grow older.

Leg length inequality

Last but not least is this condition in which one leg is bigger than the other one. This can cause the longer leg to put more pressure on the foot to compensate for the inequality. This way, one foot can become flattened while the other remains normal.

Bottom line

Before getting yourself orthotics for flat feet, it’s better to find the cause for it. Discuss it thoroughly with your doctor to get the best possible treatment for yourself. But you need to keep in mind that orthotics are not for everyone. If you’re having severe foot conditions, your doctor could suggest other possible ways to help lessen the effects.

4+ Sources:

(Video) Why Insoles For Flat Feet Don't Work / Why Orthotics Are Better

You can ensure the accuracy of our information and content by clicking on the added sources. We adhere to strict sourcing guidelines related to medical associations and statistical research. Ensuring avoidance of data that could be misleading as to any matter of fact is our priority.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449819/
  2. https://www.verywellhealth.com/flat-feet-causes-and-associated-medical-problems-1337682
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15961-adult-acquired-flatfoot
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/bone-health/orthotics

FAQs

Are orthotics worth it for flat feet? ›

The simple answer is yes, firm support on your arch promotes better biomechanics while standing, walking, or running. Orthotics for flat feet help alleviate pain, balance your body, and align your spine, reducing the risk of developing problems in your ankles, knees, back, and hips.

How long does it take to fix flat feet with orthotics? ›

Structural correction of flat feet can take between 3-18 months. Not all flat feet cases can be corrected, however many can be.

Can flat feet be corrected with inserts? ›

Orthotic insoles are special shoe inserts that can help with various foot problems, including flat feet. If you have pain or discomfort caused by flat feet, wearing orthotic insoles in your shoes can provide extra cushioning and relief.

Do people with flat feet need shoes with arch support? ›

Over-the-counter arch supports may help relieve the pain caused by flatfeet. In most cases, custom-designed arch supports that are molded to the contours of your feet, are recommended. Shoe inserts won't cure flatfeet, but they often reduce the symptoms associated with the disorder.

What are the disadvantages of orthotics? ›

5 Common Concerns About Orthotics Explained
  • ORTHOTICS ARE TOO EXPENSIVE. The range of numbers that people pluck out of the air is incredible. ...
  • ORTHOTICS DON'T WORK. ...
  • I DON'T WANT TO USE ORTHOTICS FOREVER. ...
  • I DON'T WANT MY FEET TO BECOME WEAK. ...
  • I LIKE MY SHOES AND DON'T WANT TO CHANGE THEM.
May 1, 2017

Do I need bigger shoes for orthotics? ›

Do I Need to Buy Bigger Shoes to Use My Orthotics? Always buy shoes to fit your feet, even when inserting orthotics. If your footwear was designed to work with a custom orthotic device, you do not need to buy larger shoes to accommodate your orthotics.

How do you rebuild a flat foot arch? ›

Slowly lift your right heel as high as you can, focusing on strengthening your arch. Rotate your arch inward as your knee and calf rotate slightly to the side, causing your arch to become higher. Slowly lower back down to the starting position. Do 2–3 sets of 10–15 repetitions on both sides.

Do I have to wear orthotics forever? ›

Orthotics are like eyeglasses and meant to be worn indefinitely. Eyeglasses change the shape of light to allow one to see better. Orthotics change the way ground reactive forces hit the feet, to allow one to walk better. They work to support certain muscles and ligaments, so that there is not excess strain on them.

What kind of shoes should I wear if I have flat feet? ›

Most experts agree that wearing shoes with a supportive sole is best for flat feet. Look for a shoe with a firm but cushioned insole to support the surface of your foot. The sole of the shoe should be flexible but not floppy. It should move with your foot and provide support while you walk or stand.

Can flat foot be corrected in adults? ›

The most common treatment for those who have leg or foot pain caused by adult acquired flatfoot is arch supports or foot inserts. These inserts can be either over-the-counter or custom-molded. This orthotic device may be required for the rest of the patient's life. Surgery is reserved for the most severe cases.

What kind of arch support do I need for flat feet? ›

If your feet are flat when standing or sitting, you have rigid flat feet and need low arch insoles. If your arch appears when you're sitting, you have flexible flat feet and need insoles with a medium arch.

Can you rebuild arches in flat feet? ›

One of the foot problems people develop is "fallen arches" or "flat feet," a decrease in the longitudinal arch that absorbs landing forces. You can rebuild the arches through the use of the following and other active isolated, constant-resistance exercises.

What shoes should people with flat feet avoid? ›

Men and women with flat feet should generally avoid shoes that offer little to no arch support, such as flip flops, shoes with thin or flat soles, and certain types of high heels. Look for shoes that will provide the support you'll need to safely participate in physical activities.

Are Skechers good for flat feet? ›

The Skechers Arch Fit works incredibly on users with flat feet and various kinds of foot problems. This shoe is indeed podiatrist-approved footwear that we can all enjoy wearing for hours.

Are wide shoes better for flat feet? ›

Are wide shoes better for flat feet? Unless your flat feet are narrow, many people with flat feet can benefit from wide width shoes and should avoid shoes with a narrow forefoot. As people with flat feet tend to apply more pressure on the toe area, with more room for the toes, wide shoes can help prevent toe cramping.

Do orthotics cause more problems? ›

Stress from orthotics can actually lead to weak ankles, feet or knees and cause additional foot pain. Furthermore, it's difficult to get relief from orthotic inserts that weren't made correctly. You may also suffer from sore muscles as your body attempts to adapt to the orthotics.

Are orthotics worth it? ›

Orthotics are very helpful after knee, hip and lower back surgery, especially when the patient has a problematic foot type, such as a flat foot or a foot with a high arch,” says Rock G. Positano. “These devices are quite helpful in helping to protect the lower extremity.”

Are hard or soft orthotics better? ›

Rigid orthotics are harder on the feet and your feet may require some time to adjust. Soft insoles are made of materials like EVA foam and gel. They are the best when the goal is to provide cushion or support, improve shock absorption, increase balance, and pressure relief.

How long does it take for orthotics to start working? ›

Properly fitting footwear is essential for the orthotic to work correctly. Start by wearing them for no more than two hours the first day, and increase wear time by one hour each day after that. It may take from three to four weeks before you can wear them comfortably all day.

Are 3 4 or full length orthotics better? ›

I have noticed that 3/4 length orthotics usually provide more versatility in your footwear options, as they are easier to fit inside the shoes. Full length orthotics tend to take extra space and require shoes to come with removable insoles, provide extra depth and rounded toe-boxes.

How much do custom orthotic inserts cost? ›

Custom orthotics run anywhere from $200 to $800, but you'll also need to factor in other costs. This includes the associated office visits required to fabricate your orthotics as well as the cost to replace the top surfaces when they wear out. Resurfacing a pair of orthotic inserts can cost $50 to $100.

Do I have to wear orthotics forever? ›

Orthotics are like eyeglasses and meant to be worn indefinitely. Eyeglasses change the shape of light to allow one to see better. Orthotics change the way ground reactive forces hit the feet, to allow one to walk better. They work to support certain muscles and ligaments, so that there is not excess strain on them.

How do you rebuild a flat foot arch? ›

Slowly lift your right heel as high as you can, focusing on strengthening your arch. Rotate your arch inward as your knee and calf rotate slightly to the side, causing your arch to become higher. Slowly lower back down to the starting position. Do 2–3 sets of 10–15 repetitions on both sides.

Why do arch supports hurt my flat feet? ›

Your insoles may be hurting your feet because they're not the right arch height, are too rigid or too flexible, are not the right style for your footwear, or the arch placement isn't working for your feet. For insoles that don't hurt your feet, looking for ones that offer a choice of arch heights.

How do you strengthen flat feet? ›

Heel walking and toe walking

Walking across the room on your heels with your toes in the air can strengthen muscles in your ankles and feet. Repeating the exercise on your toes with your heels in the air (essentially walking tip-toe) can do the same.

How do you know if orthotics are working? ›

With properly-fitted orthotics, you should be able to walk freely with your shoes feeling snug and secure on your feet. If this isn't the case, it's a sign that you might want to ask your podiatrist to examine your orthotics and make any necessary adjustments.

How many hours a day should you wear orthotics? ›

Wear your ICON ORTHOTICS a total of 2 - 4 hours today, and increase the time you wear them by 1 – 2 hours a day. It usually takes one to two weeks to become completely used to wearing your orthotics but this time can differ from person to person. Most people can wear the orthotics full time in 3-5 days.

Can orthotics do more harm than good? ›

While custom orthotic insoles have been scientifically proven to relieve discomfort and pain, OTC insoles can do more harm than good. Custom orthotics are a great addition and can enhance a person's quality of life whereas people need to be cautious before buying OTC orthotics.

Can flat feet be corrected in adults? ›

In adults, flat feet usually remain permanently flat. Treatment usually addresses the symptoms rather than a cure. In adults the condition is called "acquired" flatfoot because it affects feet that at one point in time had a normal longitudinal arch. The deformity may worsen over time as one ages.

What type of shoes are good for flat feet? ›

  • Sole Support. Most experts agree that wearing shoes with a supportive sole is best for flat feet. ...
  • Raised Heel. Shoes with a slightly raised heel take pressure off your mid-sole and relieve foot pain. ...
  • Custom Orthotics. If you can't find shoes that cushion your feet well, you may need custom orthotic inserts.
Aug 11, 2021

What is flat feet caused by? ›

Flatfeet can occur when the arches don't develop during childhood. It can also develop later in life after an injury or from the simple wear-and-tear stresses of age.

Are wide shoes better for flat feet? ›

Are wide shoes better for flat feet? Unless your flat feet are narrow, many people with flat feet can benefit from wide width shoes and should avoid shoes with a narrow forefoot. As people with flat feet tend to apply more pressure on the toe area, with more room for the toes, wide shoes can help prevent toe cramping.

What happens if you wear shoes with too much arch support? ›

Other signs that arch support may be too high are if you feel like there is an odd object in your shoe or if something is digging into your arch. If you wear arch supports that are the wrong height long enough, you could start to feel worse pain, body aches, and develop injuries.

Should you wear arch supports all the time? ›

You should ideally wear them whenever you are standing or active. The more you wear them, the less strain you are putting on your feet or the affected muscles, ligaments, bones, etc. Make sure you regularly visit your chiropractor for orthotics treatment near you to monitor your progress.

Can you rebuild arches in flat feet? ›

One of the foot problems people develop is "fallen arches" or "flat feet," a decrease in the longitudinal arch that absorbs landing forces. You can rebuild the arches through the use of the following and other active isolated, constant-resistance exercises.

Can a chiropractor fix flat feet? ›

The chiropractor can prescribe orthotic devices to provide proper arch support for those who have flat feet. There are two types of orthotic devices – custom orthotics and heat moulding orthotics.

Is Flat foot a disability? ›

Although flat feet used to be a disqualifier for military duty, as it turns out, flat feet or pes planus is a normal variation in the spectrum of foot alignment.

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