"Flat feet" is a popular reference term for the medical condition describing feet with collapsed arches. Flat-footedness is caused either by the body’s inability to develop arches or by weak muscles that fail to maintain arches. While flat feet are usually painless, the ankles develop problems from turning in to compensate for the lowered arch. Proper shoes help the ankles to support the body and reduce leg pain associated with the condition.
Custom Arch Supports
When over-the-counter walking shoe models cannot provide the proper support for the fallen arch, custom orthotics are required. Orthotics is a medical term used to describe special appliances that are placed inside the shoe to provide an artificial curvature that approximates a natural arch. In this case, the orthotic arch replicates the height and placement of the foot arch. A podiatrist or related specialist creates a custom foot support in either a rigid, semi-rigid or soft arch, with the firmness determined by the
individual’s orthotic needs. A walking shoe must then be selected that provides a perfect fit for the new orthotic arch support.
Over-the-counter walking shoes designed with higher insoles (the surface on which the foot rests) are better for flat-footed walkers, because the raised area allows the middle of the foot to rest higher, providing additional support for the foot and ankles. Because the arch is different in each shoe, each person will need to try on a variety of walking shoes to approximate the arch of his feet.
Specific Shoe Design
Custom wedges also belong to the category of medical orthotics. Custom wedges are prescribed when over-the-counter walking shoes have created tendinitis -- or the risk of this condition-- in the posterior tibial tendon by failing to provide the necessary support. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, custom othodics including wedges are designed to control the abnormal motion your flat feet cause and can be used to treat foot pain, such as tendinitis. Depending on your foot type, wedges can be designed to promote inversion (turning inward) or eversion (turning outward).