Do Ankle Braces Help Flat Feet?
In the US, as many as 30% of the population has a flat foot, also known as "pes planus." While many with flat feet don't have symptoms, others experience foot pain. If you're one of those who feel discomfort or swelling, you may be wondering, "do ankle braces help flat feet?"
Yes, ankle braces can help with the conservative treatment of flat feet. In fact, a study noted that 87% of cases that used these devices didn't require further surgery. This implies that bracing may help reduce the need for surgical correction of flat feet.
How Do Ankle Braces Help Flat Feet?
Ankle braces can help with flat feet by lifting the arch of the foot. This, in turn, can ease some of the pressure on the arch that may be causing discomfort or pain. Moreover, bracing can help prevent flat feet from causing injuries.
How Exactly Do Ankle Braces for Flat Feet Work?
Ankle braces don't cure flat feet, but they provide extra support to fallen arches. You want this support since fallen arches can raise your risk of feet inflammation.
When you do get swollen feet, you're more than likely to experience foot and even leg pain. Bracing in such cases can help minimize the inflammation. If you have swollen feet, you can wear ankle braces until the swelling goes down.
Using ankle braces can also help compress, stabilize, and immobilize "rolling" feet.
Standing or walking on flat feet can make the feet roll to the inner side. Medical experts call this effect "overpronation." It often doesn't cause pain, but it can alter the way a person stands or walks.
In other people, over-supination can also occur due to flat feet. In this case, a considerable portion of the person's weight falls on the outside of the feet. This can also throw the body's alignment off, leading to back and hip pain.
In one US study, 14% of 2,891 feet had overpronation, while 20% had over-supination. This suggests that both of these side effects of flat feet are quite prevalent.
Can Bracing Help With the Symptoms of Injuries Associated With Flat Feet?
Yes, ankle braces can also help relieve pain and swelling from injuries that may have to do with flat feet. They can help with plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, bunions, and hammertoes. Ankle bracing may also help with the management of ankle and foot arthritis.
Plantar fasciitis is a common inflammatory condition associated with having flat feet. It occurs when the ligaments in the soles of the feet become swollen.
Plantar fasciitis can cause stabbing, debilitating pain at the bottom of the feet. The pain is often the worst with the first few steps you take after waking up. You may also feel severe discomfort when walking after a long period of sitting or rest.
Some types of foot supports can help alleviate the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Braces can also lend more support to your feet’s arch, helping reduce the weight on your swollen feet. Their compressive feature can also help bring the inflammation under control.
Bracing may also help relieve the pain and swelling caused by Achilles tendonitis. According to health experts, having flat feet contributes to this condition. Pes planus, after all, can lead to an unstable foot and leg, which can make the Achilles tendon prone to tears.
Bunions are bony formations on the joint that makes up the base of the big toe. They occur when some of the bones in the front part of the foot become "misplaced." As a result, the tip of the big toe gets forced toward the smaller toes, leading to the protrusion of the joint at its base.
At the very least, a bunion may cause the skin over it to become red and sore. In many other cases, you may feel chronic pain not only in the big toe but the entire affected foot.
According to health experts, flat feet can increase your risks of developing bunions.
Soft ankle braces or supports can help keep the big toe in its proper place. This, in turn, may reduce the protrusion of the joint, helping ease the soreness or redness of the skin. Night splints can also help slow the progression of existing bunions.
Claw and hammertoe deformities affect up to 10% of the US population. However, their prevalence increases among the older age groups. In addition, they're a common complication in those who have flat feet.
Hammertoes may cause discomfort or pain in not only the affected toe but the entire foot too. The affected toe that turns downward may also develop corns or calluses.
Some types of foot or ankle braces can help straighten hammertoes. Uncurling the claw-like toe can then help minimize the pain caused by the deformity.
A flat foot makes your ligaments, which are tissues that connect your bones, less stable. Ligament instability can then result in more strain placed on the joints. In the long run, this can result in the development of arthritis.
In fact, one study found that one in four people with flat feet also had significantly greater knee pain. Many of them also had knee osteoarthritis.
Bracing in such cases may help not only with flat feet but also with arthritis. As mentioned above, braces can help compress and stabilize the feet. This increased stability may then help ease some of the strain forced on the joints.
Ankle braces may also help reduce some of the pain and swelling caused by arthritis. If you have knee arthritis, you may want to consider using self-heating knee supports too.
Can Ankle Braces Prevent Flat Feet?
Having flat feet has a strong genetic component, but you can also acquire it as you age. Moreover, sustaining an ankle injury makes you more prone to developing flat feet.
A perfect example is the posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD). In PTTD, the posterior tibial tendon may have gotten torn, overused, injured, or swollen. The thing is, this tendon is your primary source of arch support whenever you stand or walk.
As such, PTTD may then cause the arch to collapse over time. As a result, you may develop flat feet.
Therefore, one of the ways to avoid having acquired flat foot is to prevent ankle injuries. Since ankle braces can help you keep such trauma at bay, then they may also help you prevent flat feet.
There are also some instances wherein adult acquired flatfoot arises from ligament injuries. There's Lisfranc injury, for starters, which is rare but often misdiagnosed. In fact, studies say that missed or misdiagnosed Lisfranc injuries occur 20% to 40% of the time.
Either way, such injuries aren't only painful but can also result in the development of flat feet. However, early diagnosis and proper treatment, which includes fixation, can help them heal. In this case, ankle braces can help in their prevention and treatment.
How Else Can Ankle Braces Help With Flat Feet?
Ankle braces can also help minimize your risks for developing injuries due to flat feet. For example, ankle support braces can keep the ankles from rolling inward or outward. In this way, it can help prevent ankle sprains, which, in the US, occurs at a rate of two million cases a year.
Bracing can also help prevent ankle strains, which commonly affect the peroneal tendons. These are the tendons that protect and stabilize the ankle. As flat feet are less stable, wearing braces can fill in the gap by boosting their stability.
At the same time, braces can help protect the recurrence of injuries in flat feet.
For example, you can wear it for as long as a sprained ankle remains swollen. In doing so, you can keep the affected ankle stabilized and supported. This can then help prevent it from moving unnecessarily, which makes it prone to new injuries.
Bracing the affected ankle helps compress the injury, which can ease the swelling. The sooner the swelling goes down, the sooner your injury can start healing. By hastening its recovery, you can reduce your risks of getting it injured again.
Do note that your physician may prescribe the use of ankle braces for a specific length of time. Your doctor will base this on the severity of your flat feet (or injury due to your pes planus). It's vital to adhere to your doctor's instructions to maximize the effects of the braces.
Protect Your Feet to Prevent It From Becoming Flat or Injured
There you have it; all the potential answers to your question, "do ankle braces help flat feet?" Now that you know they can, it's best to get your doctor's permission to use one. This is especially important if you've recently acquired it or have had a foot injury.
If you have any questions about ankle braces or supports, please don't hesitate to ask away. Our team here at PowerRebound will be more than happy to educate you more about their benefits.