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Foot Arch Type

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

How much do you really 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 have a bigger impact on your biomechanics than you might realize. Did you know there is a bit of a science to buying the right shoes for your feet in relation to your foot arch type?

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

These discomforts are the result of 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 main 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, then you can easily prevent the injuries that come with certain shoe designs. You can also avoid positions or movements that can cause problems or injuries to your feet and temporarily make you immobile.

On a flat floor surface, set down sheets of clean brown paper or tissue. Wet or moisten your feet and then walk all over these papers. You should get 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). 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. 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.

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

Choosing Shoes for Your Foot Arch Type

If you have a neutral foot arch:

Most shoe designs fit well on a neutral foot arch type and if this is your category, then 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.

What you will need to consider, however, is to choose the right heel height if you are a woman, so that you will still be 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, but pes cavus has been linked to various foot problems like ankle arthritis, plantar fasciitis, callosities, metatarsalgia, and Achilles tendonitis as well as ankle instability, tripping, lower limb pain, and knee pain.

Wearing shoes that are well cushioned 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 it 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. People who are flat-footed usually have trouble with shoes that have no heels as they tend to over-pronation their steps. You will not, however, need shoes that have a lot of cushions if you have a flat foot but choose a footwear that has less space on the sole and a good arch support.

At least 18 million adults over the age of 21 are considered to be 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, it is important to maintain your weight within normal range. Performing exercises to strengthen the muscles and connective tissues in your lower legs can help prevent your foot from rolling over. For better foot support, it is also advisable to wear specialized orthotics for fallen arches and ensure that your footwear has adequate padding and cushion.

Bear in mind that your foot arch might actually 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: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/article322.htm [Accessed

About the Author

Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Passionate about healthy lifestyles and living a full life, he enjoys sharing and expressing these interests through his writing. With a goal 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.

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