High Arches – Support the Foot, Relieve Pain, Find Comfort
What are High Arches?
High arches (pes cavus) are exactly what they sound like. The arch of your foot is very pronounced and doesn't touch the ground when you stand evenly on both feet. This puts added pressure on the ball and heel of your foot.
Pes cavus literally means "hollow foot" in Latin. If you take the wet footprint test, you'll see why. With wet feet, stand on a piece of cardboard. Does the impression leave only an imprint of the heel and ball of the foot? This means you have high arches.
High arches can be caused by both genetic and environmental causes. That means that some people are born with that foot shape while others develop it over time.
There are two main causes of high arches:
- Natural orthopedic shape/genetic – high arches tend to run in families
- Neuromuscular and neurological – high arches caused by nerve disorders such as Charcot Marie Tooth Syndrome
Most people with high arches are born with them. This means your high arches are a variation of what podiatrists consider a normal range of arch height.
If you develop high arches later in life, or only one arch becomes raised, see your doctor. This could be a symptom of a neurological disorder. People with high arches due to neuromuscular or neurological disorders often have very rigid arches, with little flexibility.
What Do Your Arches Do?
Your tarsal (arch) and metatarsal (toe) bones and supporting ligaments and tendons comprise the arch of the foot. In particular, the posterior tibialis tendon supports the arch. This tendon originates behind your shin bone, runs inside your ankle, and attaches to several of the tarsal bones within your arch. This tendon is responsible for maintaining a healthy, supportive arch during your everyday activities.
Your arches help your foot and leg absorb shock, stabilize your body when standing or moving, and help you adapt to uneven surfaces. Having high arches means that any of these functions can be compromised – and injury and pain can follow.
What are Common Foot Problems Associated with High Arches?High arches can cause pain when standing, walking, or running. The extra stress on your metatarsals (toe bones) because your weight is on the ball of your foot can result in pain. Other foot problems include:
- Corns and calluses on the ball, side of the foot, or heel
- Arch inflexibility and stiffness
- Tight lower calf muscles
High arches also can result in underpronation (more commonly known as supination). As a supinator, your arches don't properly absorb the shock of walking/running. Your foot doesn't sufficiently roll inward upon landing. In fact, a supinating foot has an inward motion of less than 15%. This means that most of the person’s body weight lands on the outer edges of each foot.
Typically, high arches alone don’t cause pain, but supination can put too much pressure on the joints and muscles of the foot, ankle, and leg. Problems associated with supination include:
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.
Be attentive. People with high arches can still suffer from overpronation. This is when your foot rolls inward too much upon landing. Take note of your shoes' wear and tear. If the inside of the shoe is more worn than the outside, you might be overpronating. Remember, we all have our individual strides, no matter our arch height.
How do Insoles Support High Arches?
If you have high arches, the most important thing you can do is support them. Using orthotics that fully support high arches will relieve excessive pressure on the ball and heel of the foot. The arch-supporting orthotic distributes body weight evenly across the foot. This then cushions the impact of walking, running, or jumping.
Insoles that provide support for high arches will also help prevent supination. Tread Labs Stride fully supports the arch and stabilizes the heel with a deep heel cup, which concentrates the fatty pad underneath your heel bone.
If you have high arches, you need insoles that will support your anatomy, add comfort to your day and minimize the possibility of injury. Find an insole solution with firm but flexible support and wear it in all your footwear.