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.
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 the person’s 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 tendonitis. 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.
Yes. Though people with high arches often underpronate, that is not always the case. People with high arches can pronate and even overpronate.
There are three main characteristics of people who underpronate or supinate.
If you're experiencing these symptoms and the associated pain, there is an easy way to get relief. A quality pair of shoe inserts for supination support can help.
According to Runner’s World there is an easy informal test 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.
Like any biomechanical irregularity, underpronation can cause specific injuries. Common injuries associated with supination include:
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:
There are many brands and styles that work well for people with high arches. To find your the best shoes for high arches and supination, it's important to try several pairs on in a store before purchasing. Orthotics for supination can also be a great solution. More on that later.
New Balance is a great brand of running and walking shoes for people with high arches. Many of their styles provide extra cushioning. Cushion is important because it serves as the shock absorption that high-arched feet typically don’t have on their own. New Balance’s cushion is superior to other brands because of their “ABZORB” technology. ABZORB is a proprietary blend of rubber and foam materials that is very lightweight and can endure many miles of wear.
Birkenstock is another 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.
Developed by the founder of Tread Labs, Chaco has been making sandals with robust arch supports for decades. Originally designed for river guides, the number of Chaco styles have increased with time. The original Z/series of sandals has very good arch support. Some of the more recent models have less-pronounced support. Very durable, Chaco sandals will last for years. Many are resoleable and a made-in-USA model is available for a premium price.
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.
If biomechanics (and not tight calf muscles) are the cause of underpronation, you will need to go above and beyond buying a pair of neutral, shock-absorbing shoes. Most shoes do not sufficiently support high arches. Thus they won't correct the underlying cause of your underpronation.
Because having high arches is 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.
Sometimes. There are many causes of high arches. People can be born with high arches or develop them later in life. Causes include:
As people with very high arches grow older, their arches may fall. Weight gain is another cause of fallen arches. 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.Prevent arches from falling by making sure to wear high arch support insoles and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Millions of people in the U.S. have high arches. With proper foot care and footwear like shoe inserts for supination correction, they should enjoy pain participation in most sports and activities. Staying in tune to your own body and being aware of any discomfort or changes is the best and most proactive way to prevent injury.
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