The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) says flat feet -- a condition where a foot doesn't have a normal arch -- can cause disabling foot pain as well as knee pain, shin splints, achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.
About 25 percent of Americans have flat feet, and most of them don't have a problem. However, anyone suffering foot or leg pain should pay attention to whether one foot is flatter than the other.
There are a number of ways to determine if you have flat feet. One is a footprint test that you can do when you step out of the swimming pool. Check your wet footprint. If everything is normal, the front of your footprint should be joined to the heel by a strip about half the width of the front of the foot.
But if you have flat feet, that strip will be the same width as the front of your foot. Your footprint will look like a stretched-out pancake. If there's only a thin strip, that means you have a high arch.
You can also do a shoe evaluation. Place your shoes on a flat table and examine them at eye level from behind. You're checking to see if there's even sole wear. A flat foot causes more wear on the inside of the sole, especially in the heel area. That type of wear will make the shoe easy to rock from side to side.
Check the upper part of the shoes as well. A flat foot caused the upper part of the shoe to lean inward toward the sole.
If you suffer foot pain and have flat feet, the AAOS suggests you see an orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation.
Learn more about flat feet at the British Orthopaedic Foot Surgery Society.