Your foot arch makes a significant difference in how you exercise. It’s the foundation to your movement as it helps you to jump, walk, run or ground them into the floor for stability and balance. That’s why it’s important to know what foot type you have and the best shoes to cater to them.
Why foot arch is matters
It may seem like a small thing but a foot arch is incredibly important to your foot health. It also makes a difference to the way that you walk and perform other exercises like the squat and deadlift.
Foot arch matters because:
It absorbs shock – When you walk, run, jump, skip or any type of movement that you use on your feet, it impacts the body. The arches of your feet are what absorbs this shock, lessening the strain on other parts of the foot, as well as the body.
It keeps us balanced – Foot arch keeps us balanced and stable, even across uneven surfaces. As we walk on a variety of surfaces every day, it’s the foot arch that allows us to do so and remain stable. It allows us to adjust.
It distributes the weight – A foot arch spreads the weight across the entity of your foot. Otherwise, all the pressure will convene at certain points like the heel or balls of the feet, putting them under strain.
Foot arch type
There are three different types of foot arches: normal, flat feet and high arch. We’ll go through them to explain the features as well as the symptoms, treatments and best arch support for each.
Normal arch (medium)
Normal arch support falls in the middle between the three and it means that you basically have a normal foot arch. Everything is looking the way it should.
In a normal arch, the middle of the arch is raised slightly from the ground when there is weight on it. Your body weight is supported, and your foot pronates (rolls in) a typical amount.
Flat feet (Low arch support)
Flat feet are fairly common. Children can have flat feet and grow out of it however, for some, the issue remains. Flat feet means that you have a low arch. The arch is underdeveloped and the sole almost touches the ground when you put weight on it. If you were to create a footprint with your feet, it may look as though the entire foot is imprinted.
As a result, there is extra stress on the ankles and knees as the feet move inwards (overpronate). As your feet are the foundation for your body, having flat feet also means that it throws your alignment off, especially with your hips, knees and lower back.
As the arch is low and there isn’t much support there, some of these problems may occur:
- Pain in feet and ankle, arch and heel
- Bunions or calluses
- Shin splints
You may also develop foot injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints and Achilles tendonitis. While these conditions are common, they are much more prevalent among those with flat feet.
To counter these problems, try to use well-fitted, well-cushioned shoes. Wear shoes that have a spongy, supportive middle with a wider toe box. There are also some shoes that come with stability technology that can give you extra shock absorption.
If you like a pair of shoes that aren’t designed for flat feet, then consider getting insoles to put in them. Insoles will provide extra arch support with a cushioned middle to give you a faux arch. There are generic-sized insoles that you could get at your shoe store. However, there’s also the option of getting custom insoles made as well to cater to your specific foot shape.
On the other end of the spectrum are high arches. Whilst flat feet people have an arch that can almost touch the ground, those with high arches means that the arches are higher off the ground than normal arches. If you were to create a footprint with your feet, there would be little footprint actually visible.
This means that weight is shifted to the balls of your feet, causing it to underpronate, that is, roll outwards. Subsequently, more pressure and weight are put on the outer feet, ankles and toes. It’s common for those with this type of foot arch to experience more wear and tear on the outer sides of their shoes.
Some other problems you may encounter if you have high arches are:
- Tight lower calf muscles
- Calluses or corns on the ball or heel or side of feet
- Joint pain
- Claw toes
Look for shoes with extra cushioning to give you that extra shock absorption that high arches lack.
High insoles should be used to provide support for your feet. It will close the gap between the insoles and the ground, easing the weight and pressure that falls naturally to your heels and the balls of your feet.
Support your feet
Everyone’s arches are different. While having flat feet and high arches can cause more pain and issues, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be fixed. Even something as simple as wearing insoles designed for your arch type or choosing shoes that cater to them can make a big difference.