Flat feet

Anthony Crespo
Anthony Crespo Clinic Manager at AHS

Flat feet or (Pes planus) is a condition that affects the arch of the foot. The condition may also be referred to as fallen or collapsed arches. This condition is relatively common affecting up to 30 percent of individuals. Pes Planus is more prevalent in children there are about 20-30 percent (1) of children with some form of flat feet. females have a predisposition to this condition than their male counterparts in adulthood. 

What is it?

To go more in depth, flat feet disorder is caused by the flattening of the arch of the foot causing the entire base of the foot to make contact with the surface the individual is standing on. Flat feet are present during birth with a noticeable foot arch seen at around the age of 3 years. This structural deformity is usually asymptomatic and resolves spontaneously during the first decade of life or may progress into a painful rigid form which induces significant disability. 

Two forms

There are two forms of flat foot and these are flexible flat foot and rigid flat foot. 

Flexible flat foot is when the arch of the foot is intact on the heel elevation and non-bearing but is no longer visible on full standing on the foot. Rigid flat foot is when the arch is not visible on either heel elevation and when the foot is weight bearing.

What are the causes?

Several factors increase the likelihood of acquiring flat feet such as

  • Foot and ankle injury such as rupture or dysfunction of the posterior tibial tendon
  • Genetic malformation such as Down syndrome and Marfan syndrome
  • Familial factors
  • Arches weakness due to overuse and certain forms of foot condition or injuries
  • Some medical conditions such as arthritis, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy.
  • Flat feet can also occur as a result of pregnancy.

How can physical therapy help?

The primary goal of the physical therapist would be to minimize pain, increase foot flexibility, strengthen weak muscles, educate the patient and reassurance. Ultrasound and electrical stimulation could be used in conjunction with your therapy as seen fit by the therapist. The ultrasound and electric stimulation would aid in blood circulation, promoting the healing processes and diminishing discomfort(1). A physical therapist would also focus on mechanical methods such as flexibility exercises of the ankle and all foot joints. Strengthening exercises are given to anterior and posterior tibialis muscles, flexor hallucis longus, Intrinsic, interosseous plantaris muscles, and the abductor hallucis to prevent valgus and flattening of the anterior arch. Severe cases of rigid pes planus require surgery to correct the arch though this form of pes planus is rare. 



  1. Pes Planus. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2021, from https://www.physio-pedia.com/Pes_Planus
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