The human foot is a complicated structure, consisting of about 26 bones, numerous joint, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Each set of feet are unique, but may share certain basic structural qualities.
Flat feet are low arched and fairly common. Most flat feet are what podiatrists term pronated. Closer examination of the weight-bearing pronated foot reveals:
* Turning out of the heel bone away from the center of the body
* Inward rotation of the leg
* Bulging of the inner aspect of the ankle
* Shifting of the forefoot outward from the heel
Flat feet may be the result of abnormality in the alignment of bones, excessive elasticity of the ligaments, muscle imbalance, or some combination of these. To complicate matters further, not all pronated feet appear flat, and some feet that appear flat are not pronated. Flat feet may be severe and apparent at birth; these may require corrective treatment with plaster casts or surgery. More commonly flat (pronated) feet develop during youth, symptoms may develop anytime, and some flat feet never become troublesome. They may run in families, but there is no certainty they will develop.
Pronated feet alter the alignment of the foot, ankle, leg, pelvis, and lower back. Problems may develop at any level. The pronated foot is unstable. This results in excessive and abnormal motion across joints, and may result in fatigue and strain - often describes as "tired feet". Long tern consequences include; arthritis, bunions, heel spurs, Morton's neuroma, and other deformities. Shin splints (pain in the muscles of the lower leg) may result from these muscles overworking in an attempt to compensate for foot instability.
This is a complex deformity that should be properly evaluated by a podiatrist. He or she may recommend functional posted foot orthotics. These are special supports that help compensate for mechanical faults, and allow your feet to function with improved efficiency. Orthotics relieve stress from compromised joints, ligaments, and muscles. Deforming forces acting on the foot are diminished.