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Foot Arch Type

Joe Fleming explains why it is essential to know your foot arch type.

Did you know there is a bit of a science to buying the right shoes for your feet to your foot arch type? How much do you pay attention to your foot health? While you may be aware that your feet help you get around and keep your body balanced while standing or moving, they contribute so much more to your general health and well-being, most especially if you are into sports. In this respect, it is no wonder that the shoes you choose to wear may impact your biomechanics more than you might realize.

According to experts from the College of Podiatry, 44% of people buy too small shoes for their foot size, while 24% of people wear shoes that are bigger than their size. Many people also claim that they thought they bought the right size of shoes only to find these uncomfortable after a day of wearing them, and 51% said that it is hard to find shoes that are comfortable for long-term use.

These discomforts result from not knowing your actual foot arch type before buying a pair of shoes. Few people consider that aside from bearing your body weight and alignment, your feet also serve as the body's shock absorber when you walk or move. These factors should come into play when you are shoe shopping.

What Is a Foot Arch?

The primary purpose of the arches in your feet is to support your weight properly when you stand, walk, and move. Two bones form the foot arch (the tarsal and the metatarsal) while surrounding ligaments and tendons keep it strong and flexible. The anatomy of the foot arch determines the injuries or feet pain that you can be susceptible to.

Figuring Out Your Foot Arch Type

If you know your foot arch type, you can easily prevent injuries with specific shoe designs. You can also avoid positions or movements that can cause problems or injuries to your feet and temporarily make you immobile.

Set down sheets of clean brown paper or tissue on a flat floor surface. Wet or moisten your feet and then walk all over these papers. It would help if you got an imprint of your feet and from these imprints, look for your foot arch type based on these descriptions below.

  • Neutral foot arch. Everything from the heel, the arch, and the ball of your foot to your big toe appear clear and visible. Your arch should at least be an inch wide on the paper.

  • High arch foot (pes cavus). In some cases, your foot's imprint might appear like a C, which indicates that most of your body weight is supported on your foot's lateral side or border, or what is known as a supinated foot arch. The heel and the ball of your foot look less visible, and the arch might not even have an imprint on the paper no matter how hard you step down.

  • Low arch foot (pes planus or flat foot). Your arch will look wider than an inch if you have a flat foot. A thicker and fuller imprint of your heel, arch, and the ball appears because most of your foot touches the paper.

Choosing Shoes for Your Foot Arch Type

If you have a neutral foot arch:

Most shoe designs fit nicely on a neutral foot arch type, and if this is your category, you will not likely have problems with friction or rubbing when you are wearing shoes. The pronation of your feet is also more natural and more stable.

However, you will need to consider choosing the correct heel height if you are a woman to be still comfortable. According to a study, women increase their chances of feet, neck, shoulders, hips, and body pain when wearing 2-inch heeled shoes (or higher) for long hours.

If you have a high arch foot:

This foot type is less common than a neutral or flat foot. Still, pes cavus has been linked to various foot problems like ankle arthritis, plantar fasciitis, callosities, metatarsalgia, Achilles tendonitis, ankle instability, tripping, lower limb pain, and knee pain.

Wearing well-const cushioned shoes helps your feet absorb the ground impact, which can lead to better balance and stability. Wearing high heels, slip-on, and boots can be difficult, as this foot arch type is so rigid. It would be better to pick shoes that allow you to lace them up for that added support.

If you are suffering from foot pain or plantar fasciitis, you can use podiatrist-designed shoe inserts that are customizable for your foot size and arch height to help relieve symptoms, like heel pain.

If you have a low arch foot:

It will not be surprising if you trip while wearing ballerina flats. Flat-footed people usually have trouble with shoes with no heels as they tend to over-pronate their steps. However, you will not need shoes that have a lot of cushions if you have a flat foot but choose footwear that has less space on the sole and good arch support.

At least 18 million adults over the age of 21 are flat-footed. The common problems usually associated with flat feet include knee pain, bunions, and posterior tibial muscle tendonitis.

To decrease your risk of suffering from these ailments, maintain your weight within the normal range. Performing exercises to strengthen your lower legs' muscles and connective tissues can help prevent your foot from rolling over. It is also advisable to wear specialized orthotics for fallen arches and ensure that your footwear has adequate padding and cushion for better foot support.

Bear in mind that your foot arch might change when you are pregnant or because of ageing. Hence, you will need to go shoe shopping regularly, especially if your favourite pair has become uncomfortable to wear.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • FLEMING, J. (2018) Foot Arch Type [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Joe Fleming is the President at Passionate about healthy lifestyles and living a full life, he enjoys sharing and expressing these interests through his writing. To inspire others and fight ageism, Joe writes to help people of all backgrounds and ages overcome life's challenges. His work ranges from articles on wellness, holistic health, and ageing to social narratives, motivational pieces, and news stories. For Joe, helping others is vital.