What are Flat Feet?

A flat foot is a structural abnormality which results in the lowering of the arch of the foot, also known as fallen arches. Each foot is comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. The alignment of these structures creates the arch of the foot, helping to distribute body weight across the feet and legs as you walk. Arches develop throughout childhood, however some people never develop arches, and this may or may not cause problems. Arches can also fall over time, as years of wear and tear can weaken the posterior tibial tendon which runs along the inside of your ankle. Once the tendon is damaged, the foot’s arch loses support and can flatten. Flat feet can contribute to ankle, knee and lower back pain.


  • Uneven shoe wear and collapse of shoe toward the inside of your flat foot
  • Lower leg pain or weakness
  • Pain or swelling on the inside of your ankle
  • Foot pain


  • Ongoing stresses in your feet
  • Obesity
  • Trauma to the foot or ankle
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes


For many people, having flat feet does not cause problems as the lower extremities have adapted to accommodate for having flat feet. However, if the condition is causing problems and pain, speaking with a podiatric physician can help you determine the proper course of treatment. In some instances over-the-counter insoles or arch supports can help, in others custom-designed arch supports, also known as foot orthotics, are necessary.


  1. The Mayo Clinic