Did you know that only 60% of the world’s population has what we’d call “perfect feet?” Most of have less-than-perfect arches. They’re either too low, or too high. Over time, these arch issues can lead to some uncomfortable foot problems – like pain, calluses and plantar fasciitis.
Neutral arches (i.e. perfect feet) distribute your weight and pressure evenly so that no part of your foot is overburdened.
High arches are a different story. If you were to take an imprint of your high arches, you’d see that most of the weight and pressure is distributed between the ball of your foot and your heels. The arches experience virtually no pressure or shock.
As you can imagine, having all of that pressure on the ball and heel of your foot will cause pain.
What can you do to ease this pain and soreness? Sure, you can soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt, but the relief is only temporary. The better option is to take steps to prevent the pain in the first place. That’s where shoe inserts and orthotics come into play.
What Type of Arch Do You Have?
Before you run out and buy insoles for high arches, you need to make sure that you actually have high arches. If you don’t and you buy insoles for people with high arches, you’ll do more harm than good to your feet.
How can you tell what type of arch you have? One of the best ways is to perform what’s called a “wet test.”
For this test, you’ll need a piece of cardboard that’s long and wide enough to accommodate your entire foot.
- Fill a bathtub or basin with water, and place the cardboard nearby. You don’t need a lot of water – just enough to soak your feet. Make sure that your entire foot is immersed in the water.
- Step onto the cardboard with your wet foot, making sure that you’re applying a normal amount of pressure.
The imprint on the cardboard will tell you what type of arch you have.
Arch Types: Low, Neutral and High
There are three types of arches: low, neutral and high.
Let’s talk about each arch type in-depth, so you can properly analyze your imprint.
Low Arch, or Flat Foot
People with flat feet have very little arch definition. Their feet are flexible, but the arch sits very low to the ground.
Your imprint will show almost your entire foot.
Because these arches are more flexible, they tend to roll inwards (overpronation). They’re also more susceptible to arch pain, heel pain and plantar fasciitis.
About 20% of people in the world have flat feet, so you’re not alone. The best way to prevent pain and other foot issues is to wear insoles for flat feet.
Neutral Arch, or Medium Arch
People with a neutral, or medium, arch have biomechanically efficient feet. The arch is defined, and their feet are moderately flexible.
Your imprint will show a well-defined rearfoot and forefoot with half of your arch area.
Even people with a neutral arch are susceptible to foot problems, like pain and metatarsalgia, especially if they wear the wrong footwear.
People with neutral arches can still benefit from wearing insoles . Look for ones that offer arch support, shock absorption and cushioning.
People with high arches have very rigid feet with a well-defined arch that sits high from the floor.
Your imprint will show mostly your heel and ball of your foot with little in the arch area.
High arches can cause heel pain, plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, arch strain, claw toes, calluses and other foot problems. Whenever you walk or run, your feet absorb most of the shock and impact. If you have high arches, you have less surface area to absorb that impact. The bulk of the pressure goes to your rearfoot and forefoot.
About 20% of the world’s population has high arches, so you’re not alone. The right orthotics or insoles can help prevent pain. Look for insoles with good arch support, like MindInSole inserts, and strong cushioning.
Common High Arch Foot Problems
Pain is a common problem in people with high arches. You may get arch pain when you’re walking, running or even standing for too long.
You see, high arches put extra stress on your midfoot bones (metatarsals) because most of your weight is on the ball of your foot.
People with high arches may also have:
- Corns and calluses on the heel, ball or side of the foot
- Tight calf muscles
- Arch stiffness and inflexibility
Supination is usually the cause of arch pain if you have high arches. Supination can put too much pressure on the muscles and joints in your foot, leg and ankle.
If supination is causing your arch pain, it may also be causing:
- Knee pain
- Iliotibial (IT) band pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendonitis
People with severe supination are more likely to have heel spurs, ankle sprains and stress fractures.
Supination is one of the most common causes of high arch foot problems.
What to Look for When Choosing a High-Arch Insole
What type of insoles should you buy if you have high arches?
First and most importantly, you need to make sure that the insole has adequate arch support. Look for insoles that have rigid support to keep your foot properly positioned at all times. These might feel a little stiff at first, but you’ll get used to wearing them. The relief is worth the little bit of discomfort you’ll experience.
Feet with high arches need more cushioning along the ball and heel to absorb some of the shock and impact from walking and running.
Having extra cushioning in these areas may mean having to use a bulkier insole, but the trade-off is having less foot pain.
Because you’ll need extra cushioning in the heel and ball areas of the foot, you’ll want to make sure that you use full-length insoles. If you buy 3/4-length insoles, you won’t get all of the cushioning and support you need to prevent pain and discomfort.