The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of High Arched Feet

The Good:

High arched feet are powerful and have been said to be common in great athletes that play a sport where fast direction change in needed, stopping / accelerating and jumping. Examples would be football, basketball and tennis. High arched feet tend to supinate (putting wear and tear on the outside of the shoe at the heel strike, then rolling inwards to the big toe. This creates less shock absorption which makes for quicker cuts and starts when running. In most cases supination is easily corrected with therapeutic insoles that support the arches and correct the supination issue in the walking gait.

The Bad:

People with high arches are prone to muscle fatigue in the legs, ankle pain, knee and back pain, mainly due to the fact that their feet are less shock absorbing. High arched feet have been found to be no better than flat feet.  Remember when the army wouldn’t take a soldier if he was flat footed. Thinking that they couldn’t march for long distances. That has changed. In recent studies they have found out that flat footed people have equal or less injuries than that of a high arched person. Flat Footed people tend to get injuries on the inside areas of the feet and legs where high arched people tend to get injuries on the outside of the leg, this is because most high arched feet supinate.  High arched feet are more prone to shin splints and stress fractures

The Ugly:

View the picture of the saddle bone deformity (common with high arches) on the foot. It’s not pretty and can be painful. Usually the person is told to live with the condition unless it becomes painful. The Lump that forms on the top of the foot is a buildup of bone on top of bone, usually at the metatarsal joint.  Usually pain is caused by pressure being applied to the lump from shoes that are tight. When your arch juts upward it hard to find shoes that don’t apply excessive pressure. We will show you a way to tie your shoes that will help. People with high arched shoes have to be careful in the shoes they buy, typically slip on boots (cowboy boots) and shoes that have elastic straps can create even more pressure. If you have pain from a saddle bone deformity, remove the pressure from tight fitting shoes. Let’s say you wear sandals for a couple days and the pain is still there. There is a test called “Tinel’s sign”, it involves taping the protruding bone with a thump like tap. If it is just a minor dull pain it should heal itself, if you feel a tingling pain (nerve pain) on top of the foot that can go down into the toes, then there is pressure on the peroneal nerve.  This is when a foot surgeon should be consulted. If surgery is required, this takes about an hour and the recovery time is @ six weeks.

How did I get High Arches?

They are typically inherited and should run in the family. If you develop one foot with a high arch this is most likely from a neurological condition and should be treated promptly.  Some conditions that can cause high arches are Spina bifida, Stroke, Cerebral palsy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Muscular dystrophy and a Tumor on the spinal cord.

Symptoms of a High Arch!

  • Pain when standing, walking or running due to the extra stress on the metatarsals (bones at the top of the foot)
  • High arched feet are prone to having “Claw Foot” toes curl back and have the appearance of a claw.
  • High arched feet are prone to “Hammer Toe” the middle of the toe is up and the end of the toe lays flat against the ground, giving the appearance of a hammer.
  • Corns and calluses that form on the ball or side of the foot, or the heel
  • Heel spurs often develop from hard impact
  • The arch tends to be stiff with limited flexibility
  • Prone to Ankle Sprains
  • Calf Muscles tend to be tight
  • Cramps in the Plantar Fasciitis/bottom of the foot

How to tie shoes that will relieve Stress on the Saddle Bone:

There are two pictures above that show the lacing procedures. The First one requires starting out with a normal cross pattern and then going vertical on the second loop. Some people say it is better to go vertical on the third loop or to go vertical on the second and third loop. You will have to experiment to find out what works best. The second picture starts with a normal cross pattern then skipping the 2nd left lace hole and going to the third and then repeating this step with the right lace on the 3rd hole. Therefore alternating each lace from left to right. Again experiment with both of these styles until you find one that is comfortable and yet firm.

Custom made Orthotic Inserts:

The most effective thing that I have found is that orthopedic inserts preferably custom made usually will resolve all issues. Our licensed Pedorthist will examine the mold of your foot and then call you. From the mold they can deduct you walking gait and arch height. From the conversation they can discover where your pains are. Take for example that you have heel pain. They can make the heel soft or have a soft area that transfers weight around the center of the heel. Not all high arches are the same so having an insert that will support your arch is crucial in relieving the stress that come with a high arch. Next consider “Therapeutic Shoes”. Stride Lite has the beautiful shoes that you can wear on any occasion. The advantage is that they have extra depth. This allows room for custom shoe inserts. The smallest percentage of people have high arched feet so most shoes don’t accommodate high arches adequately.

Our Pedorthist is a licensed professional who has specialized training.

Ohio Revised Code Title 47 Chapter 4779.01 Orthotist, prosthetist and pedorthist definitions.

(A) “Accommodative” means designed with the primary goal of conforming to the anatomy of a particular individual.

(B) “Full-time” means not less than one thousand six hundred hours per year.

(C) “Inlay” means any removable material on which the foot rests inside a shoe and that may be an integral design component of the shoe.

(D) “Orthotics” means the evaluation, measurement, design, fabrication, assembly, fitting, adjusting, servicing, or training in the use of an orthotic or pedorthic device, or the repair, replacement, adjustment, or service of an existing orthotic or pedorthic device. It does not include upper extremity adaptive equipment used to facilitate the activities of daily living, finger splints, wrist splints, prefabricated elastic or fabric abdominal supports with or without metal or plastic reinforcing stays and other prefabricated soft goods requiring minimal fitting, nontherapeutic accommodative inlays, shoes that are not manufactured or modified for a particular individual, prefabricated foot care products, durable medical equipment, dental appliances, pedorthic devices, or devices implanted into the body by a physician.

(E) “Orthotic device” means a custom fabricated or fitted medical device used to support, correct, or alleviate neuromuscular or musculoskeletal dysfunction, disease, injury, or deformity.

(F) “Pedorthics” means the evaluation, measurement, design, fabrication, assembly, fitting, adjusting, servicing, or training in the use of a pedorthic device, or the repair, replacement, adjustment, or servicing of a pedorthic device.

(G) “Pedorthics device” means a custom fabricated or fitted therapeutic shoe, shoe modification for therapeutic purposes, prosthetic filler of the forefoot, or foot orthosis for use from the apex of the medial malleolus and below. It does not include an arch support, a nontherapeutic accommodative inlay, nontherapeutic accommodative footwear, prefabricated footcare products, or unmodified, over-the-counter shoes.

(H) “Prosthetics” means the evaluation, measurement, design, fabrication, assembly, fitting, adjusting, servicing, or training in the use of a prosthesis or pedorthic device, or the repair, replacement, adjustment, or service of a prosthesis or pedorthic device.

(I) “Prosthesis” means a custom fabricated or fitted medical device used to replace a missing appendage or other external body part. It includes an artificial limb, hand, or foot, but does not include devices implanted into the body by a physician, artificial eyes, intraocular lenses, dental appliances, ostomy products, cosmetic devices such as breast prostheses, eyelashes, wigs, or other devices that do not have a significant impact on the musculoskeletal functions of the body.

How Severe Are My High Arches? A simple test!

The Coleman Test. If you have high arches your feet will tend to supinate, meaning most of the weight is carried on the outside of the foot. The Coleman Test involves standing on and allowing the big toe and the next two toes to hang over the edge. To repeat. Heel on the block and toes hanging over (one foot at a time), have someone watching. If look at pictures (from the rear) of a supinated foot you will notice that if you were to draw a line from the bottom of the heel and upward through the calf, the line would go outward and then up. In a normal foot the line should be straight. When the foot is placed on the block as mentioned, the plantar will flex down with the toes and the rear heel line will become straight. This is good news, this means that a custom orthotic insert will greatly help the situation. Which should mean less foot, ankle, knee, and back pain. If the line doesn’t become straight, this means that the hind foot is rigid. See a podiatrist, they will usually start with orthotics and stretching exercises. If this doesn’t have significant results then surgery might be considered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *