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Flatfoot: Care Instructions


A flatfoot means that the bottom of your foot does not have the usual arch. One or both of your feet may be flat. You may have inherited flatfeet. Having an injury, being very overweight, or having a condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, or diabetes also can cause the arch to flatten.

Flatfoot usually is not a serious problem. But some people do have pain if they gain weight or stand a lot. You also can have pain when walking or running. You can do exercises and wear pads and roomy shoes to help support your feet.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Wear shoes with good arch support and lots of room in the toes.
  • Put heel padding (called a heel cup) or inserts (called orthotics) in your shoes to raise the heel. Orthotics are moulded pieces of rubber, leather, or other material that can help cushion and balance your feet.
  • Try these exercises to stretch your feet and make them stronger, if your doctor says it is okay.
    • Stretch your calf muscles: Stand about 30 centimetres (1 foot) from a wall and place the palms of both hands against the wall at chest level. Step back with one foot. Keep that leg straight at the knee, and keep both feet flat on the floor. Your feet should point at the wall or slightly toward the centre of your body. Bend your front leg at the knee, and press the wall with both hands until you feel a gentle stretch in your back leg. Hold for at least 15 seconds. Increase to 30 seconds over time. Switch legs and repeat. Do this 2 to 4 times a day.
    • Stretch your feet: Sit on the floor or a mat with your feet stretched in front of you. Roll up a towel lengthwise and loop it around the ball of one foot. Hold one end of the towel in each hand and gently pull the towel toward your body. Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat with the other foot. Do this 2 to 4 times a day.
    • Make your feet stronger: Place a towel on the floor. Sit in a chair in front of the towel with both feet flat on the towel at one end. Grip the towel with the toes of one foot while keeping the heel of that foot on the floor. (Use your other foot to anchor the towel). Curl your toes to pull the towel toward you. Repeat with the other foot. Do this 2 to 4 times a day.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) to reduce pain if your feet or legs hurt. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Try heat or massage on the area that is causing you pain. Use a heating pad set on low or a warm cloth. Put a thin cloth between the heating pad and your skin.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You have pain in your feet or legs.
  • You want help to find orthotics to fit your feet.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.