Flat feet : exercise or surgery?

Patient

Q: I'm 17 years old, and I havehad flat feet all my life. My knees turn in quite noticeably, and it's a bit painful to walk. About a month ago, I went in to the doctor, and he gave me some arches for my feet. However, he said that my feet could only be corrected with surgery. He said that there was a bone that was supposed to be holding up my arch that was not in the proper position in my foot. For the past month, I've been doing some foot exercises to strengthen my arch, running barefoot, and wearing the arches my doctor gave me every day. Is it possible for me to correct my feet myself? Or will I have to get surgery eventually?

Doctor

A:   Flat feet are chronic (permanent) UNLESS you change the strength of your calves, update your shoes that provide structural support for your arches, get arch supports that are fitted for you, and keep your legs stretched and hydrated. This is for all you working on your feet for hours either at a business or for those stay at home parents.  To stretch the calf, stand two steps away from a solid wall so that you can lean on it with your forearms resting your head on your hands easily. Bend the leg you do not want to stretch at this moment, step the other leg back behind you with toes pointing straight toward the wall. Hold and breathe deeply for 10-15 seconds and release slowly. For the outer calf: With one leg crossed Indian style, straighten the other leg out in front of you while sitting on the floor. With the opposite hand of the outer leg you are going to stretch, grab the outer edge of your foot along the pinky toe side. Pull gently toward the center as shown in the image. If you find it difficult to grab your outer foot with your leg straight, then bend slightly at the knee until you are able to. Continue to pull gently on your outer foot until you feel a stretch shown in the dots of the image. Breathe deeply 10-15 seconds and release. Arch supports are helpful: Some begin this exercise and stretch system with the Walk-fit arch supports. Walk-fit has three levels of arch thicknesses, beginning with the lowest level for 1-3 weeks on a regular basis, a person can move up to the second and then the third arch thickness stage. This slowly retrains your feet (sometimes irritating) to bring that arch back up. Along with the stretches and exercises listed above and keeping your shoes fresh or rotating between shoes, you will improve the strength of your foot arches.

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