What’s your arch type? For some people, the bottoms of their feet are flat as a pancake. Others have soles that arc upward like the truss on the Perrine Bridge. It’s best to be somewhere in between, of course, but everyone is a little different!
Your arch type can make a huge difference in terms of how your feet handle the loads and forces associated with standing and walking. It can influence the way your legs and feet move as you walk (in other words, your gait). Arch height can even predict what kinds of sports injuries you’re more or less likely to experience. As a result, arch type is an important consideration when buying athletic shoes, particularly if you like running or hiking.
Flat feet, for example, tend to be highly flexible and roll too far inward when you walk or run (overpronation). This can throw the rest of your body out of alignment and cause heel, arch, or even knee pain. Conversely, high arches tend to be very rigid and poor at absorbing shocks, and both the heels and balls of the feet end up taking the brunt of the force.
If you don’t know your arch type, you can get a pretty good indication with something called the wet test. Fill the bottom of a pain with a thin layer of water—just enough to get the bottom of your foot wet. Then, step on a dark piece of heavy paper (paper grocery bags work great for this) and see what your arch looks like. If you have a “normal” or “neutral” foot, you should see about half your arch show up in the impression. More or less would indicate a flat or high arch, respectively.
If you’ve got an old pair of athletic or running shoes, the wear patterns on the treads could provide another clue. Overpronators, who tend to have flatter feet, might show excessive wear along the inside of the shoe, while high-arched individuals tend to be under-pronaters and wear out the outside edges first.
If you’re not experiencing any pain, you don’t necessarily need treatment for a high- or low-arched foot. However, it’s a good idea to stop in and see our team for an evaluation, especially if you’re planning to start a new running or exercise program. We’ll take a look at your feet and your gait and determine what kind of shoe you’ll need, and if any additional supports, orthotics, or treatments might be necessary to keep you pain and injury free. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Wettstein at Advanced Foot & Ankle in Twin Falls or Burley, ID, please call (208) 731-6321.