Arch Height 101 - Do You Have High Arches, Flat Feet Or Something In Between?

by Mark Paigen 6 min read

18 Comments

How to tell if you have high arches

It's probably not something you've ever really thought about, but knowing your arch height is really helpful when it comes to understanding your body mechanics. Once you figure out if you have sky high arches, the flattest of feet, or if you're somewhere in between, you'll get how your feet work and how they affect the rest of your body.

THE BASICS ---

  • If you want to understand how your individual body mechanics work, why you have certain types of foot pain, or what kinds of foot conditions you need to watch out for, you first need to know your arch height.
  • To figure out your arch height, look at your wet footprint. Then match what you see to the chart below.  
  • No matter your arch height, your feet need support. Unless your shoes are custom, they probably aren't doing much in the way of supporting your feet. That's why you should be adding arch support insoles to your footwear.
  • The best insoles for any arch height will match the contours of your feet. One-size-fits-all insoles just won't cut it. To get the support you need, find a fit that is as close to the curves of your feet as possible.
  • If you're looking to make your footwear more comfortable, we recommend Tread Labs Ramble Insoles. If you are suffering from plantar fasciitis or other foot pain, check out Pace Insoles. Or, if you're an athlete looking for enhanced performance and superior energy return, shop our Dash Insoles.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ---

Determining your arch height is important for ensuring your overall foot health, especially when it comes to choosing the right footwear and insoles. Luckily, there is an easy way figure out if you have high arches or flat feet. It's called the “wet test.”

The "wet test" is as simple as stepping out of a shower or tub onto a surface that will take an imprint of your foot. A piece of heavy paper or a cardboard box works well. Compare your footprints to the chart below.

If you have flat feet, take the extra step to look at your arches in an unweighted position. The easiest way is to sit down and put your ankle on the opposite knee.

  • If your feet are flat sitting and standing, a low arch insole will be best for you.
  • If your feet are flat standing, but you can see an arch when you sit, a medium arch will be most comfortable.

Arch Height Chart

What does your footprint look like? Describe your arch Your best insole arch height
Low Arch Foot My arch is flat when I sit or stand. Low arch height insole
Low Arch Foot My arch is flat when I stand but appears when I sit. Medium arch height insole
Medium Arch height foot  My arch is close to but does not touch the ground when I stand. Medium arch height insole
High Arch Height foot My arch is high off the ground when I stand. High arch height insole
Extra High arch height foot No one has an arch higher than mine! Extra high arch height insole

High Arches: What You Need To Know

Some people are born with high arches, while some develop them over time. If you're born with high arches, they probably run in your family. If you develop them later in life, you'll want to see your doctor as it could be a symptom of a neurological disorder.

Foot pain as a result of high arches can occur because of extra stress on your metatarsals, resulting in your weight shifting to the ball of your foot. Other problems that people with high arches tend to have include:

  • Corns and calluses
  • Arch stiffness and inflexibility
  • Tight lower calf muscles

With high arches, underpronation or supination is common. This can put too much pressure on the joints and muscles of the foot, ankle and leg causing issues like:

  • Iliotibial band pain
  • Knee pain
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Plantar fasciitis

What Are The Best Insoles For High Arches?

For people with high arches, it's especially important to find an insole that offers full support across the entire arch that relieves excessive pressure on the ball and heel of the foot. The arch of the insole should mimic the arch of your foot. Insoles must fit well and be durable so they keep their shape during use and over time.

When you're selecting insoles for high or extra high arches, look for:

  • A pronounced heel cup - insoles should cup your heel effectively so for best results, look for a deeper heel cup
  • Rear foot support - the rear third of the arch is the most important for pronation control, therefore it should be properly supported (this will do wonders for comfort!)
  • Arch extension - the support should feel like a broad ramp, smooth and uniform all the way from the front to the back of the arch
  • Firm and dynamic support - you should be able to press the arch down, but not easily
Tread Labs offers four distinct arch heights, including high and extra high, for all of our insoles so that people with high arches can get the right level of support. Our Million Mile Guarantee means the molded arch supports are unconditionally guaranteed. Forever.

Flat Feet? How To Tell If You Have Fallen Arches

If your wet test shows low arches, you'll need to determine the flexibility of your feet. This is easy to do.

  1. Sit with one leg over the opposite knee. Look at the area of your foot where your arch should be. If your foot looks more arched than your wet test, you have flexible feet. This means your low arches are brought on by weight-bearing. A medium arch insole from Tread Labs should be your first choice. If your non-weight bearing arch is quite high may want to order a medium and a high and try both.
  2. Stand on tip toes. Have a friend look at the area of your foot where your arch should be. Like the example above, if your arches show themselves, your feet are flexible.
  3. If your arches do not present in the sitting or standing test, you have rigid, low arches and should choose Tread Labs low arch insoles.

What Are The Best Insoles For Flat Feet?

Many people with flat feet don't experience any difficulties, but some suffer from pain in the heel or arch (plantar fasciitis), swelling along the inside of the ankles, and knee and hip problems.

The best insoles for flat feet support your arch and stabilize your heel, preventing overpronation. Typically, the best insoles for flat feet will offer a low, but supportive arch. Finding one that matches the contours of your foot is key. 

While soft, cushioned insoles might seem like the best choice, what your feet really need is structural support. All of Tread Labs semi-custom insoles come in four arch heights to accommodate arch heights from low to extra high. 

What Are The Best Insoles For Medium Arches?

If your arch is neither high nor low, you have the most common arch type - medium or moderate. But just because you have the most prevalent arch height, it doesn't mean you don't need insoles that offer arch support.

Actually, your feet still require proper support to prevent overpronation, especially if you maintain an active life. Runners, walkers, and cyclists in particular need additional arch support.

Like those with low and high arches, people with medium arch height should look for an insole that offers firm support that is contoured to their arch.

How should my new insoles feel?

If you have worn insoles before, you have some idea of what to expect. You may find that Tread Labs offers a higher level of support.

If you have never worn supportive insoles in your shoes, break them in slowly over a few days. This is how your new insoles should feel:

  • Comfortable - Your foot should feel consistent contact through all parts of your arch. There should be no uncomfortable pressure points or hot spots.
  • Supportive - Initially, a supportive orthotic may feel aggressive. After a few days, it should feel like it has always been there, supporting your every step.
  • Functional - Unlike soft, foam insoles, Tread Labs insoles support the bones of your feet, aligning your ankles, knees and hips for a more efficient stride and improved biomechanics.

Learning how to tell if you have flat feet, high arches, or somewhere in between can be a great step toward improving any foot pain you may be experiencing. Once you determine your arch height, you can find the right solutions to help relieve pain, correct foot issues and improve your comfort.

Read more about solutions for every arch height:

FIND YOUR FIT

Mark Paigen
Mark Paigen

Mark has always believed exceptional footwear can change lives. He's been in the footwear industry for over 30 years, working with podiatrists, pedorthists, foot care experts, and footwear makers. Mark started Chaco sandals in 1989 and developed a game-changing sport sandal that delivered comfort and durability. After Chaco sold in 2009, Mark ultimately started Tread Labs to continue transforming people's footwear so they can walk better, feel better, live better.


18 Responses

Dan-Tread Labs
Dan-Tread Labs

November 26, 2019

Hi Karen,
If your arches are flat in both the weighted and unweighted position, I would suggest our LOW arch supports. Using an arch support that is too high for your foot will fell very aggressive and uncomfortable.
We do offer a 30 day guarantee, so if the LOW didn’t provide quite the right level of support for you, we can always make an exchange to get the proper height.
If I can help answer any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to us at 781-435-0662 or send us an email at hello@treadlabs.com
Thanks,
TL

Karen
Karen

November 26, 2019

I have flat feet standing and sitting. Does the arch support take pressure off the ball of my foot? What arch support would your recommend? Thank you.

Dan- Tread Labs
Dan- Tread Labs

March 19, 2019

Hi Fernando,
Using an orthotic that can stabilize the foot can be an effective measure to treat sinus tarsai syndrome. An arch supporting insole can do just that.
We do offer an insole that can work with a variety of footwear, including soccer cleats.
You may also want to give yourself a longer break from the sport to give your body time to heal.
Please feel free to reach out to us if we can point you in the right direction as far as which insole may be right for you.
Thanks,
Tread Labs

Fernando
Fernando

March 19, 2019

I ’ve been having trouble with sinus tarsai syndrome. Eveey time I recover , I reinjure in abouy a month. I play 4/5 soccer games a week, and have flat feet (overbpronation). What do you recommend.
I have try custom and also custom + wedge and didnt help.

Dan-Tread Labs
Dan-Tread Labs

September 07, 2018

Hi Monica,
Tread Labs offers three styles of insoles to fit a wide variety of footwear styles;

The Stride is perfect for footwear with removable footbeds such as work boots, hiking boots, running shoes and walking shoes, this insole offers the thickest cushion of the three styles and is probably the best choice for someone on their feet all day;

The Stride Thin is designed for close fitting shoes with thin, removable insoles such as casual shoes and minimal runners;

The Stride Short is ideal for shoes without removable inserts such as boat shoes, dress shoes and Chuck Taylors;

Please give us a call at 781-435-0662 if we can assist in any way.

Monica
Monica

September 07, 2018

A couple of months I purchased some insoles from my podiatrist’s office. I’ve put them in my shoes that I wear daily and noticed my feet slide and do not feel supported at all and I still feel a lot of pain when wearing them. I’ve found it extremely difficult in placing those same insoles into different pairs of shoes because it raises my feet too high to fit properly in the shoe. I have a medium arch based on wet test and am considering purchasing the size 9-10.5. I normally wear a 9.5 wide. Can you offer any suggestions on how to choose the proper shoe to fit the insoles? I work in an office enviorment and usually wear some sort of dressy flat shoe.

Dan-Tread Labs
Dan-Tread Labs

August 15, 2018

Hi JW,
I tend to take a bit of a conservative approach to arch height, and would recommend trying the High arch supports. The Extra High can feel pretty aggressive. We do offer free shipping and free returns/exchanges for our domestic customers, so if the High didn’t feel quite supportive enough we could always make an exchange for the higher supports.
Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions.
Thanks,
Dan

Dan- Tread Labs
Dan- Tread Labs

August 15, 2018

Hi Tracy,
Our Medium arch supports are probably the closest to a Chaco sandal, though there are a few differences in design giving it a slightly different fit and feel. By supporting the arch and correcting your foot’s alignment you can prevent and relieve bunion discomfort.
Please give us a call at 781-435-0662 or send us an email if we can assist in any way.
Thanks,
Dan

JW
JW

August 15, 2018

I know from previous talus nuetral castings/orthotics I know my correction should be a very high arch (highest last place that casted me had seen) with a extra deep heel cup. My feet are flatter than flat standing, my talus rolls right over the calcaneus. That said I have been out of correction for around 4 yrs. I live in Chaco Sandles as they are the only thing my feet don’t hurt in. I want to start getting back into other shoes so I need to go back to correction. Should I go back straight into extra highs if I were to try your product?

Tracy
Tracy

August 13, 2018

Thank you for designing the original Chacos. I have a pair Chacos with I believe is the traditional Chaco footbed. I can hike in them all day. So I am hoping your insoles will work for my walking shoes. I have a flat foot wth mild to moderate bunions and a pressure pad callous at the 2nd metatarsal. With my Chaco I feel no pressure on the callous. My foot is flexible . Which arch size do you suggest? Thank you in advance for your recommendation
Tracy

Dan-Tread Labs
Dan-Tread Labs

July 25, 2018

Hi Renee,
I would recommend the 7-8.5. The top covers tend to run a touch large. This size will also offer a more precise fit than the larger 9-10.5.
Please let us know if we can assist in any way.
Thanks,
Dan
Tread Labs

Renee
Renee

July 25, 2018

I’m an 8.5, and my left foot sometimes causes me to buy shoes in a 9; it’s slightly bigger than my right foot. I’m wondering which size to buy.

Dan-Tread Labs
Dan-Tread Labs

July 11, 2018

Hi Sarah,
Thanks for your question.
We do not sell mixed pairs. But, if after measuring your arches, you find that there is a slight difference in arch height between the two feet, going with the lower of the two heights can typically provide enough support to provide a fit and feel that works for both feet.
Please give us a call at 781-435-0662 if I can assist in any way.
Thanks again,
Dan

Sarah
Sarah

July 11, 2018

Should I buy two pair and waste the second set if my feet are different arches? Or are you able to sell me a custom pair?

Dan, Tread Labs
Dan, Tread Labs

May 03, 2018

Hi Socrates,
For flat feet we tend to recommend a LOW arch support. Using a higher level of support can sometimes cause discomfort and pressure points along the arch.
The tests above are a great way to help determine which arch support will work for you.
If you’d like to give us a call at 781-435-0662 we can also help you determine which insole is right for you.
Thanks,
Dan

Socrates Ibanez
Socrates Ibanez

April 25, 2018

Hello, I am trying to figure what arch height I need. I have really flat feet with no arch. Currently using Superfeet arch support. I have two knee surgeries and just want to make sure I have the best arch support for my feet. Thank you.

Dan, Tread Labs
Dan, Tread Labs

April 16, 2018

Hi Andrew,
I would recommend trying the High arch supports. If after using the High arches you find that more arch support would be beneficial to you we can always make an exchange for the Extra High.
Please let me know if I can assist in any way.
Thanks,
Dan

Andrew
Andrew

April 15, 2018

I did the wet-test and the narrowest part of my arch didn’t even leave a mark on the ground. I tried again and it looked like I have a high arch. Any recommendations?

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Tread Labs Million Mile Guarantee

Tread Labs unique 2-part insole system is designed for the long haul. The molded arch supports are unconditionally guaranteed. Forever. The interchangeable top covers are easy to replace, as often as you need.  

Want proof? Try us for 30 days. If you’re not completely satisfied, send your insoles back for an exchange or full refund, we’ll cover US shipping.

Tread Labs Shipping & Returns

Shipping Policy

USA - Everything we sell is shipped for free via USPS. Simple as that. Transit time is 3-4 business days. 

Canada - For our neighbors to the north, we offer a discounted standard shipping rate of $10. Transit time is 5-7 business days.

International - We ship to most countries of the world. International shipping costs $30 for 1-2 pairs and $45 for 3-5 pairs. All duties, taxes and fees must be paid by the customer.

Returns and Exchanges

It can take time for your feet to get used to a new level of support. Wearing your new insoles for a few hours each day is a terrific way to achieve comfort. Our fit guarantee lasts for a month. Please give the insoles a chance to do their work.

Concerned about the fit of the insole in your shoe or the size of the insole relative to your foot? Give us a call, we’d be delighted to help you find the best solution.

Instructions for returns:

USA -Tread Labs returns process is simple and easy. We’ll email you a pre-paid return label. You may return anything purchased from Tread Labs in exchange for another product or receive a credit to your original payment method.

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Canada and International - You may return anything purchased from Tread Labs for a credit to your original payment method. You are responsible for the return shipping costs.

Please contact us for international returns

Heel Spur Vs Plantar Fasciitis: What’s The Difference?

If you've ever hopped out of bed in the morning and felt a bothersome pain at the bottom of the heel when you take your first few steps, you've probably wondered what what causing it. Even if it ends up going away later in the day. We'll explain what it could be, and what you can do to stop it from happening.

QUICK SUMMARY ---

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ALL THE DETAILS ---

Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are two terms frequently used when discussing certain types of heel pain. And while they're actually very different issues, they can be addressed with the same types of treatment. 

Difference Between Heel Spur Pain And Plantar Fasciitis Pain

For one reason or another, there are some misconceptions about how plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are connected. People tend to think that heel spurs are a common cause of heel pain, however that's not the case.

The truth is that while heel spurs might be associated with pain, they are usually not the reason it occurs, as the Cleveland Clinic points out. Instead, the majority of the time, plantar fasciitis is the responsible party when heel pain strikes.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

According to Podiatry Today, "plantar fasciitis is at epidemic levels with suggestions that one in six Americans may have the condition." As it has become so common, it's important to understand exactly what plantar fasciitis is.

The plantar fascia is a thick, connective band of soft tissue that stretches from the back of your heel to the base of your toes. As a ligament, it connects the bones in these two areas and it’s designed to be a shock absorber for the high amount of stress you put on your feet.

The plantar fascia is strong and can withstand a great deal of force, but too much pressure can damage or tear it. The body responds to this damage by becoming inflamed, and inflammation of the plantar fascia is called plantar fasciitis. 

Plantar fasciitis is usually described as a stabbing pain under the arch and/or on the bottom of the foot near the heel. This pain tends to be worse in the morning and after long periods of standing, exercise, or rest. There may also be some redness and swelling in the area.

Sometime plantar fasciitis can be confused with Achilles tendinitis. As the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains, "Achilles tendinitis is a common condition that occurs when the large tendon that runs down the back of your lower leg becomes irritated and inflamed.

The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. It attaches the calf muscles to the back of the heel and allows you to stand on your toes when walking, running, or jumping. When you train too hard or intensely without enough rest, Achilles tendinitis can occur, causing pain at the back of the heel or directly above it.

What is a Heel Spur?

A heel spur, as explained by ScienceDirectis a type of bone spur, or calcium deposit, that develops toward the back of the calcaneus, or heel bone, where the plantar fascia inserts. These small, jagged bumps of bone usually develop in response to lots of trauma—or damage—to the heel.

This means that in most cases, heel spurs actually form as a result of plantar fasciitis. If the plantar fascia continues to be damaged for a long period of time, the body will eventually create a heel spur to provide additional support for the heel.

Heel spurs are associated with a similar stabbing type of sensation in the heel that is usually worse in the morning and comes and goes throughout the day. But the major difference here is that the heel spur itself is rarely the actual cause of this pain.

In fact, about 10% of the population has heel spurs whether they know it or not, but only 5% of those with spurs will have heel pain. The true reason for pain in most of these individuals, as you might have guessed, is plantar fasciitis.

Heel Spurs vs. Plantar Fasciitis: Similarities & Differences

Here is one of the easiest ways to remember how these two conditions are different: many people have heel spurs without plantar fasciitis or heel pain, but it’s rare to find someone with plantar fasciitis who does not have a heel spur.

According to one study, approximately 50% of patients with plantar fasciitis also have bone spurs. Since about 1 in 10 people would show a heel spur on an X-ray of their foot, they are only considered an incidental—or insignificant—finding unless there is also foot pain.

When a heel spur forms, it is usually not responsible for causing any foot pain on its own. Instead, the pain is due to the foot condition that caused the spur. So, if you have a heel spur and notice pain at the back of the heel, you probably have Achilles tendinitis.

If the pain is on the bottom of the heel, plantar fasciitis is most likely the reason. Many people have heel spurs without any symptoms at all, and experts are still trying to figure out exactly how spurs relate to heel pain.

Since both plantar fasciitis and heel spurs result from a similar process, the risk factors associated with them are shared in common. The following factors increase the chances of developing both conditions:

It’s also important to point out that although the symptoms of plantar fasciitis and a heel spur seem similar, there is one way to help tell them apart. Plantar fasciitis symptoms may be felt in the arch as well as the heel, some patients have it for a while before they notice the stabbing heel pain. In rare cases where heel spurs are responsible, the jabbing pain will be centered in the heel.

Treating Both Conditions with the Same Type of Approach

If you’re experiencing heel pain, your doctor will examine your foot and may recommend an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis. Although plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, it’s important to rule out other causes like Achilles tendinitis, stress fractures, a broken heel, or tarsal tunnel syndrome.

With a diagnosis of either plantar fasciitis or a heel spur, nonsurgical treatments are always recommended first and are usually successful. These include:

For patients whose pain doesn’t improve after 6-12 months of trying these nonsurgical treatments, surgery is an option. 

Healing From Plantar Fasciitis And Heel Spurs

When it comes to heel spur vs plantar fasciitis conditions, it's important to remember that the latter often leads to the former. The good news is that more than 90% of patients with plantar fasciitis will improve in less than 10 months after following these simple nonsurgical treatments.

On the other hand, allowing the pain to persist or trying to push through it will only make matters worse and can lead to bigger foot problems.

With so many different options for treatment, it can be hard to figure out where to start. But, taking charge of your heel pain by finding one that works for you can have you experiencing more mobility and freedom as your heel pain gradually fades away.

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Do I Need Prescription Custom Orthotics?

If you're experiencing foot pain, you might be wondering if you need to invest in a pair of custom orthotics. You may have even already seen a podiatrist who has recommended you be fitted for them. But the expensive of custom made orthotics can be a hurdle for lots of people, especially since insurance may not cover them. That might leave you asking yourself, "Do I really need custom orthotics?" Let's find out.

QUICK SUMMARY ---

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 ALL THE DETAILS ---

Orthotic inserts are foot supports worn inside the shoe that provide more comfort and stability than the factory inserts that come in footwear. Scientific research has shown again and again that both over-the-counter and custom molded orthotics, or orthopedic insoles, are effective in treating lower-extremity injuries and pain. Insoles can also help correct biomechanical irregularities in your feet, and solve many foot issues like fallen arches and plantar fasciitis.

Sports podiatrist and Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) Richard Braver considers orthotics a “cure-all” for many lower-body injuries and pain. According to Braver, “orthotics can prevent and cure a problem by reducing and eliminating the stress that caused it.” Clearly, orthotics are important additions to our shoes. But what are custom orthotics?

What's The Difference Between Custom Orthotics And Over-The-Counter Insoles?

There are two types of orthotics: over-the-counter and custom-made orthopedic insoles (also called custom molded orthotics).

As the American Podiatric Medical Association explains, custom molded orthotics are insoles that have been prescribed by a doctor, often a podiatrist, sports medicine physician, or orthopedic surgeon after conducting a thorough evaluation of your feet, ankles, and legs. They are built for your specific foot and gait, and accommodate your individual foot structure.

Over-the-counter inserts encompass a variety of different foot products including arch supports, insoles, heel liners, and foot cushions. Not all prefabricated insoles are made alike, however, especially when it comes to the level of support they offer.

While scientific research has proven that that insoles help treat and prevent leg, foot and lower-extremity injuries, studies have not found a significant difference between prefabricated versus custom orthotics.

In fact, Dr. Braver believes that for most people, orthopedic or custom-made orthotics should be a last option. Think of it this way. If you have a headache, you rest, take an anti-inflammatory, and drink water. You probably don’t immediately rush off to get an MRI. It’s the same with orthotics. With prices from $300 to $500, prescription insoles are not necessarily the best option for everyone.

So who may be a good candidate for custom orthotics?

People Who May Need Custom Orthopedic Insoles

  1. Diabetics - Diabetes and poor circulation increase the risk of foot ulcers and infections. You might want to see a podiatrist if you have diabetes.
  2. High-performance athletes - Running an ultra-marathon is different than a completing a 5K. If you engage in sustained, high-level activities (particularly weight-bearing ones like running), you could benefit from an orthopedic insole.
  3. People with serious biomechanical issues and recurring injuries that aren’t addressed with over-the-counter versions - If you've tried many over-the-counter options and still suffer from plantar fasciitis, pain or other issues, prescription orthotics may be a good option. However, you'll need to first see a podiatrist or physical therapist to rule out other causes of foot pain such as tight muscles and improper footwear. 

If you don't fall into these three categories, the best over-the-counter insoles might be a better option.

The Types Of Custom Orthotics

  1. Functional orthotics - As William R. Olson, DPM, and former President of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM) writes, “The purpose of the functional orthotic is to accurately and precisely position the foot throughout the gait cycle so as to promote proper function.” These orthotics control abnormal motion. They also treat foot pain and injuries such as tendinitis and shin splints. Functional orthotics are often crafted of semi-rigid materials like plastic and graphite.
  2. Accommodative orthotics - Accommodative orthotics are designed to provide cushion and support. They are often custom-fitted for people suffering from diabetic foot ulcers or painful calluses on the bottom of their feet.

Getting Fitted for Custom Molded Insoles

Podiatrist and range of motion test for fitting orthopedic insoles

If you’ve decided you might be a good candidate for custom-molded insoles, it’s time to see a podiatrist. Here is what you can expect when getting fitted for your orthotics.

  1. A Range of Motion Test - Your podiatrist will measure the motion of all your lower-extremity joints (such as your hips, knees, and ankles) in order to identify any irregularities in joint motion like excessive flexibility or extreme limitation. Your doctor will also establish the weightbearing and non-weightbearing functional positions of these joints by testing them while you're standing and walking on them, and when you are lying down.
  2. A Muscle Examination - Your podiatrist well test the lower-extremity muscle groups like the quadriceps and calves to identify any overly weak or tight areas. This will show if your muscles are adding to your injury, symptoms, or biomechanical problems.
  3. A Non-Weightbearing Neutral Position Cast of the Foot - Your podiatrist will cast your foot to provide a model for the orthotic laboratory. As Dr. Olsen says, “The specific method of casting is critical and must be done accurately in order to achieve an accurate impression of the foot in its neutral position.” 
Because custom orthotics must be based on your foot in it's neutral position, stomp-box moldable orthotics are ineffective in treating biomechanical problems. They take an impression in a weightbearing position, thus incorporating any biomechanical issues into the build of the orthotic.

    Questions Your Podiatrist May Ask

    Your podiatrist should perform a thorough examination that includes all the elements listed above as well ask you questions about your pain and foot problems.

    A good podiatrist will ask you to explain the type, frequency, and duration of all the activities you engage in as well as your overall lifestyle. Are you on your feet all day at work, lifting heavy loads? Your podiatrist should know this. Have a long history of plantar fasciitis or stress fractures? This is important information.

    Your podiatrist should also look at the wear pattern of your shoes to understand your gait mechanics. Podiatrists look for the following patterns:

    A thorough examination is the foundation for effective, reliable custom-made orthopedic insoles.

    Well-made, custom-molded orthotics (a pair of orthotics made for a particular individual) are quite expensive ($300 and up), and there is a small group of people who will benefit from them.

    Custom-molded orthotics are designed to control pronation and increase the comfort and performance of footwear. There are many providers for custom-molded orthotics, and some are better than others. You’ll want to consider a few factors when searching for a provider.

    Finding The Right Custom Molded Orthotics Provider

    A stomp box is used to make custom molded orthotics
    1. Hands-On Evaluation – Great custom-molded orthotics cannot be made without a face-to-face visit. There are a variety of providers who will send out a "Stomp Box," a piece of impression foam in a box. You are instructed to step into the box with each foot and send the resulting impressions off to make your orthotics. Unfortunately, without an experienced provider to position your foot as it makes the impression, your dysfunctional biomechanics may be built into the design of your orthotics.
    2. Type of Provider – A certified Pedorthist (C. Ped) diagnoses foot problems and prescribes orthotics. C. Peds often have the most hands-on experience with orthotics and functional biomechanics. Podiatrists are doctors who specialize in feet. They can diagnose foot problems and prescribe orthotics as well as perform surgery to fix problems.  A chiropractor is involved with the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. Some provide custom orthotics.
    3. Years of Experience – Getting custom orthotics right is a challenging mix of art and science. It takes years of experience to learn the subtleties of making custom orthotics that meet both the functional and the comfort needs of the client. Choosing someone with a long history of success will increase the chances that the orthotics will be right – the first time.
    4. Hands-On Fabrication – Some practitioners evaluate a client's needs, then transmit the info to a lab that creates the actual orthotics. While this system can work, having the orthotics made at the place of the diagnoses prevents errors in communication and insures that modifications can be easily made if necessary.

    If you’ve decided that custom orthotics aren’t right for you, or that it makes sense to try over-the-counter insoles first, you’ll find you have a lot of choices.

    How To Choose Over-The-Counter Insoles

    The most important thing to consider is that not all over-the-counter inserts are made alike. Their quality and effectiveness varies greatly. And understanding the difference between inserts and insoles is helpful.

    Think about arch supports, feet, and walking the way you think about eyeglasses, eyes, and seeing. Most people (especially as they get older) benefit from some kind of corrective lenses to improve vision. In the same way, most people benefit from arch supports to optimize their stride.

    Shoe Inserts

    Depending on your eyesight, you might need a specific prescription or a simple pair of generic reading glasses found at the drugstore. Generic reading glasses are similar to shoe inserts that don't have much variety in sizing and fit.

    The basic cushioned inserts you find at the drugstore may be cheap, but they lack any structure and they won't provide the needed support.

    Shoe Insoles

    If you require more than drugstore reading glasses, you will need an eye exam, after which you get a prescription for lenses. The prescription is written in a detailed scale because added precision enables better sight.

    Like with glasses, having precision sizing with insoles enables a higher level of support and better biomechanics. For many people, an eye exam and simple prescription is enough, much like aftermarket insoles with precision sizing works for most people in relation to arch support.

    There are different types of insoles:

    When you’re considering over-the-counter insoles as an alternative to custom orthotics, look for proper fitting medical-grade arch supports that provide comfort as well as support. They should control overpronation, prevent and relieve foot pain, and most importantly, support your active life.

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    Best Supination Insoles For Underpronation Relief

    Having high arches can be a pain – literally. Foot shape affects pressure on other joints and, if not properly cared for, high arches can lead to knee and hip problems. Another thing affecting people with high arches? Supination.

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    Are High Arches The Exact Same Thing As Supination?

    No. Supination is also known as underpronation, which occurs when the foot doesn’t properly roll inward upon landing. As part of a normal stride, the foot will roll slightly inward after the heel hits the ground (pronation). This cushions the impact and helps you adapt to uneven surface.

    A normal foot pattern rolls inward at around 15% during your stride. When you supinate, your foot rolls in under 15%. Most of your body weight lands on the outer edges of each foot. Conversely, overpronation is defined as the inward rolling of the foot over 15%.

    Supination can put too much pressure on the Iliotibial (IT) band. Some people who supinate will experience knee pain or Achilles tendinitis. Underpronation is less common than overpronation, with up to 10% of people in the U.S. supinating. Those with severe supination are prone to inversion ankle sprains, heel spurs and stress fractures.

    While supination is not the same thing as high arches, it is a condition often caused by them. Not all people with high arches will supinate, but many are at risk. Athletes with high arches should be particularly careful in order to avoid these injuries.

    Can Someone Have Very High Arches And Still Pronate?

    Yes. Though people with high arches often underpronate, that is not always the case. People with high arches can pronate and even overpronate.

    Who Underpronates and Why?

    There are three main characteristics of people who underpronate or supinate.

    1. People who underpronate are often heel strikers – their heel hits the ground first. Then, the foot rolls out, and the force of their body weight is unevenly distributed to the outer edge of the foot
    2. Underpronation is more common in, but not exclusive to, people with high arches. High arches are often more rigid and less flexible. When your foot hits the ground, your arches don't sufficiently flex to accommodate dynamic movement.The force of the stride then pushes the weight towards the outside of the foot.
    3. Tight calves and Achilles tendons magnify the movement of supination. The tightness in the back of the heel and up the leg pulls your foot outwards when it lands. If tight calves and Achilles tendons are the cause of your supination, stretching is an easy solution.

    If you're experiencing these symptoms and the associated pain, there is an easy way to get relief. A quality pair of supination insoles can help.

    I Have High Arches, How Can I Tell If I Supinate?

    According to Runner’s World, there's an easy, informal test you can do to see if you supinate. Simply take a well-worn pair of sneakers and place them on a flat surface. Look at the shoes from behind. Do they stand straight? Or do they lean to the outer edges? If they lean dramatically to the edges, there is a high chance that you supinate. See a doctor for confirmation.

    Injuries Associated with Supination

    Like any biomechanical irregularity, underpronation can cause specific injuries. Common injuries associated with supination include:

    Neutral Shoes and Shock Absorption

    Shoe shopping can be difficult for people with high arches. If you underpronate, you need to find shoes that accommodate your gait. Because the body weight is not distributed evenly across the foot, forces of impact remain concentrated on the outside of the shoe. When you push off, your smaller toes do most of the work. This is both inefficient and lessens your ability to properly absorb the impact of your stride. Most specialists recommend finding neutral shoes with extra cushion or shock absorption qualities.

    Other characteristics you should look for in a shoe include:

    Best Shoes For High Arches And Supination

    There are many brands and styles that work well for people with high arches. To find the best shoes for high arches and supination, it's important to try several pairs on in a store before you buy. 

    New Balance

    New Balance has great running and walking shoes for people with high arches. Many of their styles provide extra cushioning, which is important for shock absorption that high-arched feet typically don’t have on their own. New Balance’s cushion features their "ABZORB" technology, a proprietary blend of rubber and foam materials that is very lightweight and can endure many miles of wear.

    Birkenstock

    Birkenstock is a well-known comfort shoe brand. Their sandals provide arch support with a molded footbed. For many, their signature footbed helps redirect and balance pressure. Make sure to try out the sandals in the store. Birkenstock's firm one-size-fits-all footbed is heaven for some but too uncomfortable for others.

    Chaco

    Developed by the founder of Tread Labs, Chaco has been making sandals with robust arch supports for decades. Originally designed for river guides, Chaco now offers many styles for off the river too. The original Z/series of sandals has very good arch support, however some of the more recent models have less-pronounced support. Very durable, Chaco sandals will last for years. 

    Saucony

    Saucony also makes great running shoes for those with high arches. Like New Balance, they provide amazing comfort and cushioning. Their PWRGRID+ technology claims to provide 20% more cushion without adding bulk or weight. A selection of their shoes are designed for daily use for neutral or supinated feet.

    The Best Insoles For Supination

    Orthotics for supination can also be a great solution to help reduce underpronation, particularly if biomechanics (and not tight calf muscles) are the cause of underpronation. As most shoes do not sufficiently support high arches, they won't correct the underlying cause of your underpronation.

    Because high arches are closely correlated to supination, you need to find supination insoles that will support the arch during your stride. By supporting your arch, you prevent your foot from rolling out.

    An insole with a deep heel cup will stabilize your heel and acts as extra shock absorption. With the proper insoles for supination correction, you can prevent injury and develop a more efficient stride.

    Are High Arches Passed Down Genetically?

    Sometimes. There are many causes of high arches. People can be born with high arches or develop them later in life. Causes include:

    Do High Arches Change With Age?

    There are a few factors, including age, that can cause fallen arches in people who have very high arches. These include:

    A series of tendons and ligaments that attach leg muscles to the foot create the foot’s arch. When these tendons are injured or otherwise loosened, arches begin to fall. This change in foot shape can be painful. Feet will tire easily and put even more stress on knees and ankles.

    To prevent arches from falling, make sure you wear high arch support insoles and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

    The Bottom Line

    Millions of people in the U.S. have high arches. With proper foot care and footwear like shoe inserts for supination correction, you can participate in most sports and activities pain-free. Being proactive by listening to your body and being aware of any discomfort or changes can help you prevent injury.

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    How To Treat Bursitis Foot Pain

    More common than you might think, bursitis foot pain is caused by a number of factors. Some are very easy to address while others take a little more effort. But, getting relief from bursitis in your foot will have a big impact on your daily activities and quality of life. Learn more about what causes foot bursitis and how you can treat it.

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    Your foot is equipped with its own cushioning system that helps reduce the impact of walking and running on hard surfaces. Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Tedder, explains, "The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that’s located around joints to help them function. When these are inflamed or irritated, it’s called bursitis, and can decrease the amount of motion in the joint. This most commonly occurs in the heel, hip, knee, shoulder, and thumb."

    If the bursa in your foot becomes inflamed from overuse or injury, you may experience pain, swelling, or bruising in your heel, arch, or metatarsal area (ball of foot). 

    Common Symptoms of Foot Bursitis

    Common areas impacted by bursitis

    What Causes Bursitis?

    There are many things that can contribute to the development of bursitis foot pain. The most common cause of foot bursitis is the overuse or improper use of your foot’s muscles, bones, and tendons. Other common causes include the use of ill-fitting footwear and other biomechanical issues in your feet.

    Overuse Injuries Can Cause Bursitis In Foot

    Repetitive activities like jumping, dancing, power walking, or running can lead to foot bursitis. This can be especially true if you don’t take the time to stretch and warm-up your body—especially your feet—prior to exercise. Always spend time stretching your body and feet prior to athletic activities to ensure your muscles and tendons are warmed up, with proper blood flow and oxygen.

    If you are not accustomed to strenuous activity, take things slowly when you first begin a new exercise regimen. While you may (and should) be enthusiastic about your healthy new routine, your body needs time to adjust to the new demands. Pacing yourself in the beginning is an important step in becoming fit and avoiding injury.

    Footwear

    Ill-fitting footwear is another culprit when it comes to bursitis. If you regularly run, jump, dance, or spend many hours at a time on your feet, be sure your footwear has:

    Biomechanical Irregularities In The Foot

    Sometimes, bursitis foot pain can be caused by an existing foot irregularity, like Haglund’s deformity—a bone spur that can develop on the heel. The bursa can become inflamed as it tries to cushion the heel and the spur from impact.

    Other conditions that may cause or contribute to bursitis include problems with thyroid levels, infections, arthritis, or diabetes. These medical conditions can be life-threatening if left untreated, so it is important to see a physician if you have symptoms of bursitis in your foot.

    How is Bursitis of the Foot Diagnosed?

    If your doctor suspects you may have bursitis, they will examine your foot and ask you about the symptoms, how often you exercise, when the pain began, and your medical history. To rule out an underlying illness, injury, deformity, or bone fracture, your doctor may order an X-ray, ultrasound, MRI, or blood work. If they suspect an infection, they may remove some fluid from the bursa to test it for gout.

    Note that bursitis foot pain is often confused with other foot conditions, including: plantar fasciitis, a heel spur, Achilles tendinopathy, Sever’s Disease, a trapped nerve, Haglunds’ deformity, or a stone bruise. Depending on the condition your doctor finds, they may refer you to a rheumatologist, orthopedist, or podiatrist.

    What Is The Treatment For Foot Bursitis?

    The good news about foot bursitis is that it can be easily managed with proper and prompt attention. A few common bursitis foot treatment options include rest, ice, elevation, stretching, a change in shoes, and adding insoles to your footwear.

    How Do Insoles Help Bursitis Foot Pain?

    Because footwear manufacturers design their shoes to fit the widest range of people, the vast majority of shoes have minimal arch support. Footwear makers do this because they expect that people who need additional arch support will add an insole. Insoles with firm arch support can help relieve bursitis foot pain.

    You'll get the most out of your footwear by replacing the factory inserts that come in your shoes with firm, supportive insoles. To get the most out of the arch support insoles you're adding to your shoes, look for ones that:

    Podiatrists recommend firm support to improve alignment, control pronation, and deliver long-term comfort. Insoles are a small investment in good lifelong foot health. Add them to your footwear and reap the benefits.

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