The Link Between Obesity and Flat Feet

Your feet are often overlooked when it comes to recognizing important functions in the human body. But have you ever thought about just how much you put your feet through in any given day and all the things they actually do for you? 

If you’re among the estimated 20-30% of the general population who suffer from a common foot deformity known as pes planus, generally referred to flat feet, you probably know all too well.

Dr. Jarna Rathod -Bhatt and Dr. Rahul Bhatt, our highly skilled podiatrists at Apple Podiatry Group, share their knowledge about flat feet and its connection to being overweight or obese. 

Proper foot function explained

Let’s unpack this topic by providing a quick primer on how your feet function in the context of proper body movement. The human foot is an amazingly complicated system of bones, connective tissues, and muscles. To be precise, each foot consists of more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, about 30 joints, and nearly a quarter of the entire human body’s bones – 26 of them to be exact.

 Your feet are responsible for three main functions that control your body’s natural alignment – serving as the body’s shock absorber, providing support, and bearing your body’s overall weight. If an injury, heredity issue, or other deformity exists, it may cause pain and alter the normal biomechanical operation of your feet. 

Flat feet may cause instability and pain

Flat feet, sometimes called fallen arches, are a common foot problem that can affect any person regardless of age or gender. In fact, babies are born flat-footed. It isn’t until most children reach about age 6 that their arches fully develop. But about up to two out of every 10 children go into adulthood with flat feet.

 Being flat-footed is all about how the bottom of your foot makes contact with the ground. There should be a gap of space at the bottom of your feet where your arch holds or supports your weight. If all or almost the entire bottom of your foot makes contact with the ground when you’re standing, you have flat feet. 

This throws off the normal ability of your feet to buffer your weight and provide stability. Although some people with flat feet may not experience pain, over time flat feet can cause undue stress on your foot’s joints, bones, muscles, and tendons, and cause swelling along the arch and ankle. The resulting instability may also result in knee, hip, or lower back pain. 

Obesity increases the risk of flat feet

Since your arches bear your body’s weight and serve as your body’s shock absorbers, anything that counteracts these important biomechanical functions can increase the risk of creating fallen arches or flat feet. Being overweight or obese increases strain on your arches, thereby upping your risk of developing flat feet. 

A flat-feet evaluation is the first step in treatment

If you’re overweight and have foot discomfort when walking, or you’ve noticed a change in gait or cramping in your legs or feet, schedule an evaluation with us. Here at Apple Podiatry Group our caring doctors will do a thorough exam and talk to you about your symptoms. 

If needed, we’ll do X-rays or ultrasound images right in our office. These diagnostic tools help us determine the optimum treatment options for your flat feet.

 Depending on the severity of your symptoms, treatment may include physical therapy, daily stretching exercises, custom orthotics or footwear changes, or medications, as well as ankle braces and activity modifications. We may also guide you toward weight loss to help with flat feet. In particularly severe cases, we may recommend surgery.

 If you think you have flat feet, make an appointment for an evaluation with one of our podiatrists. Book a consultation right now by clicking the ”request appointment” button. Or you can call one of our Apple Podiatry Group offices in Arlington or Irving, Texas, to schedule your appointment.

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