Your feet are fickle bodily members, requiring a pristine balance to function properly.
This is even more true when it comes to their arches. You might be familiar with flat feet, but high arches are also problematic. Just like flat feet, high arches can also cause faulty biomechanical patterns that wreak havoc on your gait, posture and overall well-being.
You may not notice these changes immediately, but they do have a negative impact. With that said, it’s crucial to understand how a high arch foot differs from flat feet so that you choose the proper orthotic support for relief.
High Arch Feet vs Flat Feet: How Are They Different?
Flat feet get more attention because they are a more common problem than high arches. They cause similar issues, but their development and characteristics differ.
The most apparent difference between them is that flat-footed people don’t have enough arch in their feet, while individuals with high arches have too much of an arc.
High arches generally have too much support and are often too rigid. A high arch foot also doesn’t absorb enough shock when it lands because it doesn’t flatten - something a foot with normal arches would do. Of course, with flat feet, the opposite happens.
The problem with high arch feet not absorbing enough shock is that abnormal loads are placed on the foot and lower limbs. This results in repetitive strain and faster wear-and-tear on the joints, resulting in pain and inflammation (symptoms that occur in flat feet).
High arches, like flat feet, are usually caused by a genetic predisposition, but they can stem from other conditions as well, including:
- cerebral palsy
- muscular dystrophy
- spina bifida
- spinal cord tumours
- Charcot-Marie-tooth disease
As was mentioned above, high arches aren’t as typical as flat feet, and unfortunately, this has led to a lack of extensive research on the condition. Nevertheless, there is orthotic support available for high arch feet (more on this later).
The Consequences of a High Arch Foot
There’s no guarantee that a high arch will lead to complications because the risk of acquiring one depends on the severity of the arch and how it impacts your posture and movement.
More severe cases of a high arch that have gone untreated for an extended period are more likely to cause secondary conditions.
Secondary Conditions Caused by a High Arch Foot
- Plantar Fasciitis - High arches can lead to inflammation of the plantar fascia, a band of ligaments that connects your heel and toes. This is a common condition that results in a stabbing or burning heel pain extending to the bottom of the foot along the arch. It is often more intense when you take your first few steps after getting up.
- Metatarsalgia - A high arch foot can also lead to painful inflammation of the ball of your foot, known as metatarsalgia. Symptoms of this condition include a sharp or shooting pain in the ball of your foot, aching or burning pain, and tingling or numbness of the toes.
- Claw Toes - As the name suggests, claw toes appear in a claw-like shape since they dig downwards into the soles of your shoes. This abnormal posture results in painful calluses on the ball of your feet. Over time, claw toes can throw your gait off and make your shoes feel unusually tight.
- Hammer Toes - As its name implies, hammer toes are a hammer or Z-shaped appearance when the toe bends at the middle joint. The condition causes pain in the toes and the feet themselves, and wearing shoes becomes very uncomfortable. Over time, the toe becomes more rigid and may even require surgery.
- Foot/Ankle Instability - High arches may cause your heels to tilt too much inwards or outwards, making them a frequent cause of over supination. Foot instability naturally leads to pain and can increase your risk of ankle sprains.
Most of these complications are avoidable, provided you treat high arches early.
Like flat feet, a high arch foot is often the byproduct of poor habits and anatomical defects that have gone unnoticed and unmanaged for too long. What you need is orthotic support and the right shoes to address a high arch.
What Are the Best Running Shoes for High Arches?
Even if you have high arches, remember that your foot will still be unique compared to another individual with a high arch foot.
Determining which shoes will work best for you will require analysis of your footprint either with a wet test or professional analysis.
With that being said, the best shoes or running shoes for people with a high arch foot will include stability shoes since they are designed to provide cushioning for shock absorption, something that rigid high arches don’t do well.
The shoes’ heel counter and ankle collar should also be firm so that you can’t easily press or squeeze on them. Also, you should look for shoes with a deep heel cup in them since this feature helps maintain a healthy foot alignment and pressure.
ASICS remains a great brand example to deliver these crucial components for stability and support.
Why Orthotic Support and High Arch Running Shoes is Essential
A high arch foot will not correct itself. The best way to manage high arches is with orthotic support, providing firm support to relieve excess pressure on the ball and heel of your feet.
Orthotics will also stabilize the heel and fit across the length of the arch. This means the weight is distributed evenly across the foot. This provides extra cushioning that high arch feet need during walking, jumping and running.
Ultimately, the correct orthotic for you will require analysis and measurement of your feet to determine the proper orthotic support for your foot. Here at Orthotics Direct, we can learn about your footprint using a traditional, in-person foam cast analysis or a digital cast analysis where you submit pictures of your footprint.
Whether you’re looking for arch support, high arch orthotics, walking shoes for long distances, or a way to relieve pain, trust us at Orthotics Direct! We carry a variety of brands and styles that can help minimize even your most excruciating foot pain.