Foot Arch Types

Doctor holding footWhen you look at the root causes of foot conditions and injuries, you see many issues stemming from physical trauma or poor footwear choices. Sometimes, though, it’s a structural issue within the body that causes problems. A prime example of this is foot arch type.

Recognizing the different foot arch types, and knowing the role they play in foot function, will help you know when to see us at one of our Florida offices.  We will set up a treatment plan to address symptoms and correct the problem.

Understanding Your Foot Arches

Your foot arches assist in distributing the tremendous force loads that come with every step you take. As your foot flattens during the course of a step, its arch contributes to a more equal distribution (so excessive pressure is not applied to any single area). When too much pressure is experienced in a concentrated area, problems develop.

Additionally, your arches contribute to the transfer of energy that takes place during the ground portion of each step (the part between the heel strike and final push from the toes). It might help to think about your arches acting like springs that help keep your foot moving forward.

There’s a certain degree of variance when it comes to foot arches. You have one of three different foot arch types: normal (moderate), low (flat feet), or high (cavus foot).

Moderate Arches

This the most biomechanically efficient of the arch styles, but having moderate arches doesn’t mean you are exempt from developing common foot problems (like heel pain or ball-of-foot issues). It does mean you are less likely to develop these problems than those who have either low or high foot arches.

Low Arches

Instead of moderate arches, some people have flat feet. These low arches are sometimes flexible in nature. In other cases, the “fallen” arches are rigid and lead to problems. Low arches tend to be imbalanced from a biomechanical perspective. Improperly-distributed force loads place feet at greater risk for foot problems like bunions, plantar fasciitis, and other sources of heel pain.

High Arches

Other individuals have high foot arches. Also known as cavus foot, this arch style is usually quite rigid. Instead of the foot having ample surface for absorbing the significant force loads that come from activities like running or walking, a majority of the physical stress is absorbed by the heel and forefoot areas (especially along the foot’s outer edge).

Identifying Your Arch Type and Recognizing Issues

Understanding your respective arch type is useful in both identifying injury risk and knowing what style of shoes will work best with your feet.

There are a couple different ways to go about identifying your particular foot arch type. One is to examine the bottoms of your shoes. The wear pattern can be used as an indication of what kind of arch style your feet feature. An even wear pattern normally is seen for individuals with moderate arch heights. Excessive wear on the outer edge is often indicative of high arches, whereas excessive wear on the inner edge is usually found with low arches.

Another way to tell your arch style is to use “the wet foot test.” This “test” is performed barefoot with the use of a shallow pan of water and a flattened brown paper bag. Wet the bottom of one of your feet and then take a normal step onto the bag. If the resulting footprint looks like a wide, flat foot, your arches are low. Conversely, if you can only see the forefoot and heel areas, or if they’re connected by a thin line, you likely have high foot arches. If you are looking at the front and back connected by a strip roughly half the width of the foot, then you have moderate arches.

The main issue when it comes to foot arches is the role they play in pronation. Pronation is a natural rolling process your foot undergoes with every step you take. The process starts with the heel striking the ground and extends throughout the entire “ground portion” of your step. If you have a moderate-height arch, your foot should roll about 15% throughout the course of the pronation process. Over pronation and supination (under-pronation) increase your risk for various foot problems.

No matter whether your arch abnormality is causing you pain or impairing normal function, Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida is ready to help. Our staff of expert podiatrists have expertise and skill in resolving issues that stem from all arch types. Let us work to create a treatment plan that puts your pain behind you today. Call us at 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (if you call from Lake County) or schedule your appointment with any of our five Florida offices online today.