Arch Types: Know Your Feet
Shoe shopping may seem like a simple process, but finding the right footwear is dependent on how well you know your feet. For instance, what’s your type? The answer will impact the shoe that best suits your unique foot structure.
A Test You Can’t Fail
The wet test has long been the preferred option for determining a person’s arch. More recently, electronic scanners have become prevalent and many shoe stores offer the technology. Either way, the goal is to see the shape of your foot imprint. If you go the old-fashioned route, simply place your foot in a pan of water (just enough to get your sole wet). Now step onto a piece of brown paper. As you step off, you should notice the shape that was left. High-tech scanners forego the water, but in the end the same information can be gleaned.
And the Answer is—Low, High, or Neutral?
The interpretation of the wet test is just as easy as taking it. Look at the shape that your foot has left on the paper. What can you see? If the paper shows the entire sole of your foot, you have a low arch. The other end of the spectrum, the high arch, is denoted by a highly visible ball-of-the-foot and heel area with a sliver of the outside edge imprinted on the paper. Finally, the neutral type will reveal the heel, forefoot, and about one half of the arch.
If you’re still not convinced, check-out the bottom of your favorite pair of shoes. The wear pattern will confirm the wet test. If you have a low arch, you will notice more wear on the inside edge of the sole. Those with high arches see more wear on the outside edge.
I Know My Type. What Does it Mean?
The arch of your foot determines the way that it moves as you walk or run. For instance, people with a low arch, sometimes referred to as flatfoot, often over-pronate. Over-pronation means that as the person steps, the ankle rolls inward at a greater degree than normal. Ankle, knee, and hip pain can result from this excessive motion, so it makes sense that motion-control shoes are the best option.
Cushion and a mid-sole that is soft are the most important factors for people with high arches, because they under-pronate. The legs absorb the extra stress when the arch fails to release during movement. Since the goal is to encourage pronation, a stabilizing shoe is not a good fit—literally!
If you have a neutral arch, your shoe buying experience should be fairly straightforward. Most shoes will work, so it’s just a matter of finding the amount of cushion and support that is best for you. No matter your arch type, shop at a store where trained professionals can assist you in finding the best fit.
My Feet Still Hurt—What do I do?
The foot is a complex system of bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments. When your feet hurt, they are sending a message that help is needed. Dr. Stavros Alexopoulos provides expert podiatric care for the Chicago, IL area. From finding the source of your discomfort to recommending the best shoes and orthotics, we value your foot and ankle health. Call the office at 773-561-8100, or schedule an appointment online today!