Flat Feet and Back Pain: Some Facts You May Have Never Heard

flat feet and back pain - edupain

Surprisingly, there are unique yet logic relations between flat feet and back pain. But most people often didn’t see where the origin of the pain they got on their back comes from.

Have unexplained back pain? Try checking your feet. Most people have gaps under their arches when they stand. If you don’t, then this article might give you an idea of how flat feet and back pain correlating each other.


What are flat feet?

Flat feet or medically referred to as Pes Planus is a condition when the feet don’t have curvature and all of the soles touch the ground.

Commonly, the arch of the foot is slightly raised from the ground. But people with flat feet don’t have any spans, or even if they are, they are shallow and almost touching the ground.

According to NCBI, it is estimated that 20-30% of the human population in the world has flat feet and back pain correspondingly.


What causes flat feet?

Flat feet are often found in infants and toddlers because the foot arches of young children have not fully developed.

As the child grows, the tissue that holds the joints in the foot (called the tendon) will tighten to form an arch in the foot. This process generally occurs when children are 2-3 years old.

However, some people have never experienced the arch forming of the foot until adulthood. Having said that, flat feet will occur because the tendons around the foot are loosened.


Is flat feet hereditary conditions?

Moreover, the shape of the foot and its curvature are more or less is determined by genetics (congenital cause).

But research says that several numbers of conditions and external factors can cause the feet to flatten or affect the shape of your feet.


Are flat feet and back pain correlating each other?

Yes. they are. And it was published in several medical journals such as the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

This is similar to the problems about how flat feet that can affect the way we walk, run, or even standing.

One of the foot arch function is activated as a spring to distribute weight on your feet as you walk.

This arch structure determines how a person’s overall body pattern goes. And the feet must be sturdy but flexible enough to adjust to various surfaces and pressures.

Flat feet and back pain might have an interrelation due to simple physics

People with flat feet experience uneven weight distribution when walking, standing, and running.


As a result, their shoe heels are more comfortable and faster to wear on one side than the other. The center of gravity is the answer.

Symptoms of flat feet may also include complaints of legs that are tired or sick quickly after a long stand or exercise.

Running, for example, requires constant leg movements and leg muscles. So do not be surprised if the pain appears during running if you have flat feet.

In a rare case, feet sometimes still hurt even when you were already wearing supportive running shoes.

According to NCBI, there is a fact that having flat feet might also have a higher risk of biomechanics changes in the body.

As mention above, an imbalance in the body due to the uneven distribution of weight can affect the upper body as well. The center of gravity might not align in the right orientation.

Dysfunction in the arch of the foot can cause a disturbance in the lower limbs and lumbar spine. This will lead to a risk of back pain and injury.


Not only your back, but flat feet also affecting your legs as well

Having an uneven stand position since a young age and untreated over time will make your leg to form an “X” alphabet or knock knee.


Though flat feet is not only the cause of knock-knee, several diseases are causing it, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, rickets, injury, and excessive pressure.

Knock-knee can be seen when there is a large gap between your feet with your knees close together when standing.

Genu Valgum or knock-knee is one of the leg dysfunction that makes you disqualify when applying for the army or joining the military.


Flat feet are more common in children

Although children are at the top of the risk, they don’t require treatment for flat feet or pes planus. The connective tissue will do the job as they grow.

Except if the pes planus occurrence is in the level of the red flag or can be seen extremely detail, the orthotic surgery is needed.

However, in adults, the appearance of flat feet needs a further examination based on the cause, symptoms, and genetics.


What are the conditions that can cause flat feet?

  • Ehlers-Danlos syndromes

According to Ehlers-Danlos Society, ED Syndromes are a disorder which takes place in one or more group of connective tissues in the body.

This disorders can be present at birth and can be varied in how they affect the body.

In correlation with flat feet, ED Syndrome typically characterized by joints and skin that can be stretched further than average, and also tissue fragility.

People with ED Syndrome, the connective tissue is built with the improper structure the way it should be.

Because of that, the badly-growing connective tissue in some or all of the affected body can be pulled beyond normal limits which cause abnormality.

In a human body, connective tissue can be found in; skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments, blood vessels, organs, gums, and eyes.


  • Obesity and pregnancy

Flat feet and back pain have a close relation to overweight and pregnancy. These two conditions exert excessive pressure on the arches and tendons of the foot so that they can cause an almost flat curvature.


  • Tarsal coalition

A tarsal coalition is a condition when two bones or more in the foot bond together in an unusual way, resulting in a stable connection.

As the name mention it, the affected bones by this condition are tarsal bones.

The most common appearance of a tarsal coalition is a stiff flat-foot. That makes you hard to walk on bumpy and rough surfaces.

To accommodate for the foot’s lack of motion, the patient may roll the ankle more than usual, which may result in recurrent ankle sprains.

This condition is most common during childhood. Orthotic and physical therapy might help.


  • Certain Injury

It does not rule out the possibility that normal arches can be evenly distributed over time.

With the increasing age and substantial routine activities can weaken the tendons that stretch along the inside of the ankle.

Flat feet also often occur due to traumatic tears in the tendon and exercise that is too heavy or other accidents.


What happens if someone has flat feet and back pain?

The most common symptom of flat feet is a pain. The pain can occur in the area of the soles, ankles, calves, thighs, knees, hips, and lower back.

This might occur if the ankle is pointing inward while you are standing or walking, known as over-pronation.

Pronation is a normal movement in the foot at the end of each step; we do to absorb the impact on the foot every time it hits the ground.

Unlike pronation, over-pronation occurs when the ankle rotates in too far, past the point needed for shock absorption. This condition is characterized by both feet, pointing out when standing.

Flat feet can also be marked by swelling or stiffness in one or both legs — some cases, feet that are quickly tired or sprained when running.

Foot movements, such as tiptoeing on the toes, can also be challenging to do if you have flat feet.
Flat foot symptoms are varied and generally depend on the severity of the condition.


Does having flat feet bad for you?

To be honest, it depends on you and your passion.

Flat feet are not wrong for you when you don’t have a passion for physical activities such as being athletes as long as the flat feet are not showing over-pronation.

But in another way, it could be harmful when having flat feet. You will disqualify when applying san army recruitment, athletics, and other jobs that need your posture to stand upright.

For example, runners who experience flat feet due to over-pronation may be more prone to shin splints, back pain problems, and tendonitis in the knee.

Also, you cannot run fast at maximal speed when you have flat feet.


Are flat feet curable?

Flat feet are usually not too worrying in most people, so treatment is generally not necessary.

Flat feet only need to be treated if you show disturbing symptoms such as pain, overpronation, or disabling health conditions.

Perform leg stretches regularly to adjust the movement of the foot so that it does not rotate forward. Reduce weight if your flat feet are caused by obesity.

This helps to ease the burden and pressure on your back, knees, and soles of the feet.

If flat feet and back pain causing difficulty in walking, orthotic shoes can relieve the pressure and reduce the pain.

Some people find that orthotic shoes with full soles give a little relief.


Does having flat feet and back pain require surgery?

If the methods above do not work, surgery may be needed to correct your flat feet shape. Contact your doctor for a more appropriate diagnosis.

Though for the back pain itself, it requires scanning and imaging to determine the overall conditions.

Most of the time, wearing custom insoles or supportive orthotic shoes and coupled with physical therapy, have a good result for relieving back pain due to flat feet.

Related Posts:



  • NCBI: Pes Planus. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430802/
  • NHS United Kingdom: Knock Knees. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/knock-knees/
  • Ehlers-Danlos Society: https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/what-is-eds/