Arch Of The Foot and Foot Types
The foot actually has three distinct arches. Two “longitudinal” arches (one on each side) run from front to back; one “transverse arch” runs across the mid foot from inside to outside.
The “medial longitudinal arch” is the most prominent foot arch and what is typically referred to as simply, “the arch.” It runs from front to back along the inside of the foot. This arch absorbs the majority of the shock of impact while walking, jumping or running.
The arches, along with the other tissues of the foot, help determine a person’s foot type (see image below for reference).
The most common foot types include:
• High Arches (Footprint 0 & 1)
• Neutral Foot Type (Footprint 2)
• Flat Feet (Footprint 3)
What does this mean for you?
High arches – (aka pec cavus) High arches are usually classified as supinated (feet rolling outwards, placing weight on the outside of the foot) and are more rigid than other feet. Typically, imprints or scans for this foot type show mostly the heel and ball-of-foot, with very little in the arch area. When we walk or run, our feet absorb most of the impact and shock. With high arches you have less surface area for absorbing impact and you place excessive pressure on your rear foot and forefoot areas. This can make you susceptible to foot conditions such as heel pain, ball-of-foot pain or plantar fasciitis.
Normal (Medium) Arches – Medium arches are often biomechanically efficient but still can be susceptible to common foot problems such as heel pain or ball-of-foot discomfort. Typically, imprints or scans for this foot type show approximately half the arch area with a well-defined forefoot and rearfoot. Such feet suffer neither from over pronation or supination. In a typical gait cycle the foot alternates between these inward/outward rolls to offer the correct combination of flexibility and stability vis a vis foot type mentioned above and below.
Low arch- (Flat feet aka pes planus) – Low arches are more flexible and tend to roll inwards and over-pronate. Typically, imprints or scans for this foot type show almost your entire foot. Low arches are often biomechanically imbalanced and can make your feet more susceptible to common foot problems such as heel pain, arch pain and plantar fasciitis.
One needs to aware of one’s foot type and accordingly decide the kind of shoe that would best address the type and protect it form injury. The foot type has a bearing effect all the way up the anatomical chain.