If you have high arches, you will find yourself facing some challenges with your gait and running style. It’s true that over pronation and flat feet get a lot of coverage these days, but high, rigid arches pose their own set of problems.
How your feet should work and how high arches change foot strike
When running, a natural foot strike should see the impact falling more toward the outside of the foot, which causes the foot to ‘spin’ inward while absorbing the shock of the landing. This motion involves every joint from the hips down. When runners have high arches, the foot strike is modified, which leads to problematic load distribution and potential injuries over time.
How does the lack of foot spin associated with high arches present challenges?
Previous injury or surgery effects
If a runner has suffered a foot injury or had a common foot surgery like a bunionectomy, they may change how they run subconsciously. If the heel is painful (through a common injury like plantar fasciitis) or the big toe was painful (from surgery), the runner may adapt their gait to avoid putting pressure on those areas. The result is a footfall that mimics a high rigid arch. If upon examination, the runner is found to have naturally soft arches, behavioural physiotherapy may change the learned gait and see results.
Naturally rigid arches
Genetics are a lottery. Some people will have naturally high arches, and there isn’t a great deal that can be done to change them. Therapies can be attempted to gain some flexibility, although results will vary person to person. The rest of the body (ankles, knees, hips) will adapt to accommodate the lack of spin. Be aware that there may be a higher risk of injury over time.
Restricted foot movement leading to tightness
If a runner is exclusively using motion control shoes, the limited mobility may lead to tightness in the foot. This can lead to artificially high arches over time. Unlike naturally rigid arches, this can often be corrected by adapting shoe choices, using orthotics or incorporating specific exercises that promote flexibility and pronation.
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Whilst Enertor has over 18 years Orthotics experience, our blog content is provided for informational purposes only and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical advice. Enertor advises anyone with an injury to seek their own medical advice – and do not make any health or medical related decisions based solely on information found on this site.