Fallen arches, commonly known as pes planus, is when the arch of the foot contacts the ground as a person stands. THE major muscle responsible for holding up the arch is the posterior tibialis muscle and it receives “instructions” to hold up the arch from the brain via the spinal cord, fifth lumbar nerve root (low back), the sciatic nerve, and finally through the tarsal tunnel as the tibial n. Ergo, any misalignment in the low back can “pinch” the nerve supply and cause the muscle to fail.
Falling arches can be problematic for several reasons…
First of all, added stress on the foot stretches the ligaments, permanently altering the body’s foundation toward increased pronation (rolling inward). This, in turn, alters ankle, knee, and hip mechanics to do the same. As the hips turn in, (usually more on one side than the other) the pelvis tilts more toward one side. When the hips are not level, the spinal column must twist and bend to accommodate the change all the way up to the head. Basically, flat feet can be a predisposing, complicating, and causative factor for musculoskeletal pain anywhere from head to toe.
In particular, once the arch collapses, the tarsal tunnel can narrow and affect the nerves traveling to and from the foot, causing further weakness and paresthesia (tingling). Even if the arch holds out, the foot will still over pronate, putting the weight of the body on the inside of the foot rather than the bottom. This can often lead to bunions or a hallux valgus deformation of the big toe.
Sometimes, individuals are born with flat feet, but flat feet can also develop due to lifestyle. Clinical observation has shown that the posterior tibialis muscle becomes inhibited by excessive stress. Stress can be mental-emotional, chemical-nutritional, structural (any previous injury/illness), or thermal. The adrenals are responsible for stress hormone production, and just like muscles, they get fatigued. We can’t turn off stress, but we can control how we manage it. In the field of applied kinesiology, managing these cases has a multi-pronged approach based on the four types of stress:
1. Reduce mental-emotional stress (or improve coping strategies). This may include counseling, meditation, breathing exercises, exercise in general, etc.
2. Improve biochemistry by treating infections and removing toxins (cologne, perfume, scented lotions, potpourri, paints, solvents, heavy metals, etc.). It is also important to increase the intake of vitamin cofactors A, C, E, Zn, B3, B5, and folic acid.
3. Assess the stuctural integrity mentioned earlier. This is best performed by a professional applied kinesiologist chiropractor. Spinal and extremity adjusting, foot taping, acupuncture, and orthotics may be required.
4. Reduce any possible thermal stresses. This is rare, but shouldn’t be overlooked, especially in extreme climates or during seasonal fluctuations.
For a thorough and preventive approach, get evaluated by a professional applied kinesiologist. This individual is trained to test the involved muscles and rule out other contributing factors. Visit the International College of Applied Kinesiology online to locate a nearby professional.