/ Just discovered I have low arch/flat feet - consequences?

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OneLifeOneHeart - on 21 Apr 2013
Well, as some of you might know, I started climbing about half a year ago as a sort of "level up" from my long-distance walking and hiking which had become the only physical activity I could do ever since I got a back strain injury about 6-8 years ago which never healed and had a series of other consequences on my health.
(I think this injury was partly caused by my irregular levels of activity, i.e. I would be 100% sedentary for 8 months, gain lots of weight, and then do intense activity especially to try getting leaner again...
However, I never got any problem while hiking or long-distance walking in cities, sightseeing, etc.).

Today I wanted to buy new walking shoes and went to a shop which had some special foot-analyzing equipment. They told me I had low arch or flat feet!
Now, THIS is something I never knew I had, and I remember having read somewhere that back injuries can actually be caused by flat feet.
Trying those "flat feet shoes" caused some unease in my whole body, and I don't know whether that's because I am now used to a specific balance.

Anyway, knowing this adds a whole new dimension into my understanding of what has been going on with my body, and explains why despite having a very good endurance when walking (I can walk continuously for hours, even whole days with just the necessary rest) I sometimes have strange pains...

But apart from that... What do you think could be the consequences in terms of mountaineering and climbing? Will I need a specific type of climbing shoes as well? And hiking boots?

Do others here have this kind of condition and did they need to adjust their equipment accordingly?

Thanks,
An unfit but ambitious young guy...
Roberttaylor - on 21 Apr 2013
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart: A friend of mine has very flat arches (or something along those lines), she uses orthotic inserts in her shoes. I'm sure someone will be along soon enough with more accurate and pertinent info.
MJ - on 21 Apr 2013
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

Just discovered I have low arch/flat feet - consequences?

You'll have a lot more soul than other people.
girlymonkey - on 22 Apr 2013
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart: I've had totally flat feet since I was a small child (they actually used to bulge inwards when I was very small and then they gradually became more normal shape but still flat).
I've tried insoles etc and don't like them. I have no problems what so ever with them, I use normal shoes and climbing shoes. I am a freelance instructor so spend my entire life walking and climbing.
I can believe some people do have issues with them, but I figure that many generations of people have had flat feet and just got on with it with no real issues so I'm not sure how much these modern insoles etc really make a difference, or how much is clever marketing.
deanr - on 22 Apr 2013
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

I have flat feet, which led to problems in my knees. The flat feet caused a shortening of the ITB tendon (large one down the outside of my thigh) which pulled my knee cap too far across. A number of years after the issue was fixed I developed lower back problems. The physio said that this was related to my flat feet.
Saintly - on 22 Apr 2013
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart: I have also been flat footed all of my life rather than fallen arches, suffereing with various niggles over the years from Achilles strains, to lower back strains and knee niggles.

When i was younger i used to use some very brutal looking scholl arch supports with sprung steel under them to provide lift, which needed re-tensioning every 3 months. They provided some relief but generally were more trouble than they were worth as the support was never that consisitent and due to the solid nature of them they created hot spots and blisters when walking and running.

A couple of years ago on advice from one of my physio friends i went to see a chap in Settle who has built me some custom orthotics, both hard and soft versions to be used for different applications.
The difference has been pretty noticeable, even in the way i stand, it has taken the pressure off the outside of my knees and allowed me to get back in to running again.
I'm not saying this works for everyone and there are numerous different people out there offering various ways of re-aligning and correcting posture.
Certain people may well have developed enough of a corrective support themselves and won't need orthotics. Its all pretty subjective.

Guy Hurst - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart: Worth going to your doctor and getting referred to an orthotics specialist at your local hospital. They might just prescribe off the shelf insoles if you're flat foot problem isn't too bad, or suggest you do exercises, but if you're very flat footed then they might make you special insoles. They work well and seem to prevent a lot of problems developing and/or getting worse. Might save a lot of hip/knee/back pain in the long run.
Simon_Sheff - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

Don't bother with expensive orthotics. Go minimal, get some nb's strengthen up your arches and become less flat footed.
People just want to see you stuff bro. Don't treat the symptoms-treat the cause
ads.ukclimbing.com
almost sane - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:

Get an assessment done by a podiatrist.
Here in the People's Republic of Scotland, this is free. If you need orthotics, then these too are free, if you go to an NHS podiatrist.

Of course, you can go private.

Consequences?
That is like saying I am ill, what are the consequences?
How fat are your feet? Is the situation stable, improving or worsening? What is causing this? What are the effects when you walk?

As for me, I have been wearing orthotics for about 15 years now.
The consequences are: it is really hard to find footwear that fits. And that includes things like trying to find sandals where the orthotics don't just slip out the back as I walk - no flip-flops for me.
Other than that - I am heading back to the Himalayas for the fifth time this summer, leading a trek in Ladakh and then heading off to do some climbing. So I don't feel that having flat feet has held me back TOO much :)

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