Geometry affects your body whether you realize it or not. Your skeletal structure is packed full of shapes that make normal movements and supporting your body weight possible. One of these shapes is your foot arch. Just like the arch of a bridge or a cathedral, this allows you to support and distribute heavy weight. Not all feet are the same, of course, and different arch types can affect how your limbs function.
Three Main Foot Shapes
The arch is an important part of your foot anatomy. It helps direct your body weight forward from your heels and distribute it evenly through the whole foot, so you’re balanced. The arch also helps your feet absorb the shock of hard impacts on the ground. There are three natural arch types: low, medium, and high.
A low midfoot has a flatter arch than normal. These feet tend to be slightly more flexible than average and prone to overpronating, or rolling too far inward when you walk or run. A medium midfoot is well balanced. Your arch is the right height to distribute force and weight evenly. A high midfoot has a higher, more rigid arch than normal. Your foot tends to direct the majority of your bodyweight into your heels and the ball of the foot. You’re also more prone to underpronation.
While most people have normal, medium arches, a significant portion of the population have a high or low midfoot. This isn’t necessarily “bad” for your feet. Many people have flat feet or high arches without any problems. Others, however, are more likely to develop foot pain and overuse injuries like plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia.
Self-Check Your Type
You can use a simple trick to figure it out which of the three types you have. The “wet test” uses water to demonstrate your foot shape. Carefully wet the bottoms of your feet then firmly press your foot against a heavy sheet of paper on the floor (a paper shopping bag works well for this). Remove your foot and examine the print left behind.
A normal arch should have a mild inward curve between the ball of the foot and the heel. A flat foot will have a full sole with almost no curve where the arch would be. A high midfoot will have very little sole showing—just a thin line along the outside of your foot.
Accommodating Your Foot Shape
Knowing your arch type can actually help you choose footwear that will best meet your needs and support your lower limbs. In the long run, this could help prevent overuse injuries and discomfort. Shoes with the right midfoot stability can make up for any biomechanical issues that may result from an inefficient foot shape.
Understanding your arch can help you catch problems that may arise, too. Some abnormal lower limb conditions change your foot shape and cause pain. Muscle and nerve problems may allow the foot to collapse downward and flatten out. Nerve and bone diseases can also tighten the midfoot and make it higher. If you notice any sort of changes in your foot shape, you need to have that examined promptly.
Everyone has one of the different arch types. Whether yours is high or low or in the middle, you can take care of your foot and make sure it’s supported. If you’re struggling with any kind of lower limb pain, let Dr. Noah Levine and our Absolute Foot Care Specialists staff help you take care of it. Just call our Las Vegas office at (702) 839-2010 to make an appointment with us.