Do you ever wonder why your feet are tired and your knees and back are sore after spending an entire day walking or standing? Why are the joints in your lower limbs achy even after wearing your most comfortable outfit, shoes and all? What you don’t realize is that you may have been neglecting the arches of your feet, which if they don’t receive love and attention could cause painful unhealthy foot conditions to occur. By taking care of your arches, you can be assured that the functionality of your feet will improve, your body will align properly and your feet will become healthier.
Your foot has three arches (medial longitudinal, lateral longitudinal and transverse) that make up the area between your forefoot and heel. The arch helps to bear weight and stabilizes propulsion during the gait cycle (walking or running). The human body was meant to walk on uneven, natural surfaces such as on dirt trails, fields or sand, which is why the arch area of the foot is curved and not flat. But with radical changes in history such as the introduction of shoes and the changes that occurred in the Industrial Revolution (the invention of machines such as automobiles), humans have dramatically altered Earth’s landscape with the introduction of hard flat surfaces, which unfortunately has altered our natural footprint.
When the arch of the foot is not supported during the gait cycle, the weight and downward force of the human body make the foot roll aggressively inward (excessive pronation) or outward (excessive supination) – this could cause joints, ligaments and muscles in lower limbs to misalign, which then could cause discomfort, stress or pain.
Unhealthy Foot Conditions that Occur Do to Improper Arch Support
This condition can be hereditary, occur at birth or take place at an early age. Being flat footed means the arch of your foot is fully collapsed or rolls inward. Unfortunately, flat feet can also develop in those who abuse their feet by wearing shoes with poor arch support designs. Other causes include old age, being overweight and standing for long periods of time in pumps (high heel shoes). For more information, read Are Fallen Arches a Real Foot Problem?
When walking or running, the arch of the foot stretches and flattens out as the foot rolls inward – this is called pronation, which is a normal function of the foot. Unfortunately, problems arise when the foot arch remains flat during each step, making the foot roll forward too much – this is called excessive pronation. This causes improper body alignment, which then leads to stress in joints, ligaments and muscles in the lower limbs. For more details, read Pronation 101.
As one of the most common foot problems in the United States, plantar fasciitis is a condition that is responsible for most causes of heel pain and arch pain due to the plantar fascia ligament being injured or inflamed. The plantar fascia is ligament that connects the toes to the heel bone – its purpose is to maintain the integrity of the arch of the foot and keep it from collapsing. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the arch of the foot is not supported properly. For more details, read Plantar Fasciitis 101.
How to Properly Support the Arch of the Foot
- Wear shoes that have a good arch support footbed design. The footbed should have an anatomical shape to mimic the contours of the foot.
- Place arch support insoles in your shoes. Sadly, most shoes do not come with well made insoles. The insoles are usually foam cutouts that have almost no structure or health benefits to them. Just remember, for each new pair of shoes you purchase, you should also consider getting arch support insoles – they typically come in full length and ¾ sizes. For more information, read Choosing the Right Orthotic, Arch Support, Or Insole for Your Lifestyle.
LOVE YOUR ARCHES
… Because Your Arches Need Love Too