High Arches vs Low Arches: The Benefits of Orthotics
Let’s look at some general conditions each foot type is prone to due to its structure, and how orthotics can benefit.
High Arch aka Pes cavus
Metatarsalgia (forefoot pain), Bunions, and Calluses
Natural foot shape is in a tripod structure: leads to increased pressure on the ball of the foot and the heel.
It is not uncommon to see callus build up on the forefoot and heels, and bunion formation at the big toe joint.
A generally stiffer range of motion and tighter musculature, which results in a lack of pronation and shock absorption. There is a lot of impact build up in the lower limb joints to the lower back.
Rearfoot varus position: where the ankle is bowed alike the picture to the right, leading to more tension on the Achilles tendon. This also leads to a high chance of inversion ankle sprains where the ankle rolls outwards.
Knee pain and Low back pain
Due to the same reasons that cause Achilles tendonitis, it is always recommended that physiotherapy/massage treatments and regular stretching is done in conjunction with orthotic treatment.
Orthotic treatment can improve pressure distribution and to provide cushioning, and also will help to unload the metatarsals.
Low Arch aka Pes planus
Metatarsalgia, Bunions, and Calluses
A flatter arch means the foot splays inward towards the centre of the body.
There is more pressure on the medial side of the first metatarsophalangeal joint, which can lead to bone calcification and callus build up.
Knee pain/Back pain
Due to increased overpronation (rolling in of the ankle), there are malalignment issues coming up the kinetic chain, as the knees and hips go through excess rotational forces
Can lead to knee problems such as patellofemoral pain syndrome, or chronic low back pain.
Orthotic treatment will provide arch support and help to realign the lower limbs.
Rearfoot valgum position during gait with overpronation, leading to increased strain on the Achilles tendon as there is a bowing effect, which can lead to Achilles tendonitis.
Low arch structure puts the plantar fascia at consistent strain with weight bearing
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This is not to say that all high and low arched feet will feel pain, even a fairly neutral foot may have pain as we have to consider other factors, such as activity level, work conditions, footwear, etc.
Feel free to drop by your nearest Kintec for more information on your feet and what we can do to help!
Mei Poon C.Ped(c)