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Life StyleStudy debunks myth that flat feet inevitably lead to pain or injury

Study debunks myth that flat feet inevitably lead to pain or injury


For generations, those with flat or fallen arches have been told their feet are abnormal and will likely cause pain or injury down the line. However, a new study is challenging this long-held belief, finding little evidence to support such claims. As a reporter for a major newspaper, I reexamined the facts around this common foot trait.

Researchers analyzed several meta-analyses on the topic, which compile the results of multiple scientific studies. Consistently, they found little to no increased risk of musculoskeletal issues for those with flat feet. The links proposed in past studies — to conditions like shin splints or knee pain — were deemed weak. Perhaps most compelling, reviews of runners found zero difference in injury rates between those with flat feet versus normal arches.

Clearly, the notion that arched or fallen feet foretell future problems lacks substantial data backing. So where did this theory stem from? Podiatrists in the mid-20th century were among the first to define “ideal” arch structures. Their ideas became entrenched in health worldwide, despite thin evidence. Today, updated curricula recognize natural anatomical variation rather than supposed norms.

With no causal relationship proved, flat feet should not be viewed as a pathology requiring treatment if asymptomatic. But overdiagnosing them as “abnormal” often leads patients down unnecessary roads of orthotics, shoe inserts and unwarranted concern. Researchers thus urge shifting the perspective to one of harmless diversity in foot types. Only investigating actual pain — not arch height alone — seems the prudent approach.

By challenging preconceptions, this study aims to alleviate unnecessary patient worries. Its insights should encourage reconsidering flat feet as the normal variants many in fact are. Proper vetting of medical doctrine remains key to sparing individuals from unwarranted medicalization.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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