What Is The Foot Arch?
The foot arch, frequently treated with orthotics (arch supports), is located between the heel bone and the ball of the foot. It is formed by the bones, ligaments, muscles, fascia, and tendons of the foot. The purpose of the foot arch is to support the weight of the body and to help propel the body forward while walking. To do this, the foot requires both a high degree of stability and a great deal of flexibility.
Believe it or not, 1/4 of the bones in our body reside in our feet. Because of this fact, there are many joints in our feet. However, because we wear shoes most of the time, some of the joints in our feet can become fixated or locked. When this happens the surrounding joints become overworked, sore and at times painful. If you feel like you have lost motion in your feet, it's likely that some of the joints in your foot and ankle are fixated or subluxated. You should have your feet checked by a chiropractor and have the subluxations painlessly corrected.
The foot has three arches that help form the overall foot arch:
1. The medial longitudinal foot arch runs along the inside of the foot from the front to the back and is the one most people think of when they think of the foot arch. Part of it's job is to absorb most of the shock that occurs upon impact and support the structure of the foot.
2. The lateral longitudinal foot arch runs in the same way as the medial longitudinal foot arch, but it is located on the outer edge of the foot. For most of us it is fairly horizontal, but it can be seen best in people with high foot arches.
3. The transverse foot arch, also called the metatarsal foot arch. Unlike the other two, this arch runs from outside to inside across the mid-front part of the foot and provides some of the support and flexibility of the foot.
General Foot Arch Classifications:
There are three general classes of foot arch, primarily based on observation of the medial longitudinal arch (the main arch at the inside of your foot).
1. Normal foot arch
2. High foot arch (associated with supination)
3. Low foot arch (flat feet, associated with overpronation)
Low arches, or flat feet, known as 'pes planus', usually occurs when the arch disappears upon standing or taking a step. People with low foot arches/flat feet are often overpronators. With too much pronation, the ankle turns inward upon standing and can give a knock-kneed appearance.
In individuals with a high foot arch, known as 'pes cavus', you can see a big gap between their foot and the ground on the inside, and sometimes even on the little toe side. This condition often leads to the ankles rolling slightly outward and giving them the appearance of being bow-legged. Both of these conditions change the mechanical approach to walking and can cause painful arch symptom.
How Can I Tell What Type of Foot Arch I Have?
To estimate what type of foot arch you may have, look at your feet in a standing position. If you have a clear space between the ground and your foot arch, even on the outside (little toe side) you may have a high arch.
If you have absolutely no defined foot arch, you are most like flat-footed. You can test this by stepping on a dry surface with a wet foot. If your footprint shows only a thin strip along the outside of your foot connecting your heel and ball-of-the-foot area, you have a high arch.
If the connecting strip is approximately half the width of the foot you most likely have a normal or medium foot arch. If most or all of the sole of the foot touches the floor between the heel and the ball-of-the-foot area, you have a low foot arch or flat foot.