Our bodies were never designed to wear shoes.
Especially not the shoes that are popular today.
They have increased cushioning on the soles with a highly elevated heal. This provides the structure within the foot with artificial support.
This means the muscles in the foot do not need to work in the way that they should.
So a large proportion of people end up getting flat feet or fallen arches.
If you don't use it you lose it.
We all know this saying. It is no different with the muscles in you feet.
If we continuously wear shoes that support the arches in your feet then the muscles have nothing to do. As a result they stop working. Then we end up with flat feet.
We don’t have flat feet though. We have just acquired fallen arches.
This is all because we are not using the muscles of the feet the way we should.
Where to next?
The usual next step is to go and see a physiotherapist. You will be prescribe with what can be rather expensive orthotics. This will again provide the foot with the arch needed for comfortable daily locomotion.
It does not correct the problem though.
These orthotics that you think are miraculous things are in fact compounding the problem and making the problem worse in the long run.
Don’t get me wrong if you are in pain when you walk around on a daily basis and the orthotics relieve that pain then by all means use them. In that situation I would recommend them myself. I would not be relying upon them as the solution though. I would be doing a lot of other work to get the foot muscles working properly again as well.
A short term aid, not long term solution.
The same way you have a crutch when you break a leg. You don’t keep the crutch for the rest of your life neither should you keep the orthotics. You should do strength work in the foot and leg. Especially in the gluteal muscles and hips to properly control the alignment of the structure of the leg.
This is where you will get the best results. If you do the exercises and correct the problem, you will be able to walk free from pain orthotics.
The Devil in your wardrobe
For all the ladies, high heels are a terrible abuse of the ankle also.
Women who wear high heels on a regular basis throughout the day are keeping the calf muscle in a shortened position all the time and the foot in plantar extension. You are also distorting your center of mass. The body will get used to this position and think that it is natural default position.
This will destroy healthy ankle mobility.
It will effect healthy movement patterns so as a result you may find you have back pain or hip pain. Or that when you walk without the heel that you experience discomfort.
Now if you have flat feet and want to know if it is part of who you are or something that you acquired then try this simple test.
Stand on the balls of your feet and see if an arch develops. If yes no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to you then you don’t have true flat feet you just acquired them.
Simple exercises that engage the gluteal muscles and force proper alignment of the skeletal structure of the leg will rectify the issue if you give it the required time and commitment.
Everybody is different and may require slightly different exercises but glute bridges and split squats are simple exercises that should help most people.