If you’ve ever struggled through a philosophy class, you’ve wrestled with the concept of archetypes. According to Plato, there are archetypes—universal ideas of things—that we only understand by observing the real, particular things around us. For example, there is the Idea of a dog, which we understand when we look at collies, corgis and Chihuahuas. If he was right, there would be a universal Idea of a foot arch, which we would begin to understand as we look at various arches. It may be difficult to grasp philosophical concepts like archetypes, but it’s not so hard to figure out the type of arch you have on your foot.
Making Arch Types Simple
There are three main types: low, medium, and high. We often call a medium arch “normal,” because a higher percentage of people have medium arches. However, high and low arches are also normal—just not as prevalent. You can do a simple test to figure out what type you have.
Set a piece of dark construction paper or cardboard on the floor. Dip your feet in a shallow pan of water, step onto the paper and then onto a towel. From the wet footprint, you can determine how your foot touches the ground. If the wet blotch plainly shows your whole foot, you probably have a low arch—more of your foot touches the ground when you walk. If you see the heel and ball of your foot, connected by a wide swath on the outer edge, you have medium, or neutral, arches. If there is a circle where your heel and ball of foot rest, connected only by a faint strip along the edge, you probably have high arches.
What Arch Types Mean for You
The type of foot structure you have determines how well your foot will function. Your arch supports all of your weight and flexes to absorb the impact as you walk or run. Pronation—the rolling of the foot with each step—helps cushion your legs and ankles from impact as well.
Low arches are also known as flat feet, and you will probably overpronate if this is your type. If your foot tends to roll inwards too much, the increased motion within your feet can lead to injuries and foot pain. You should wear shoes that have firm midfoot support and keep your feet from rolling in too far. Custom orthotics could also be used to control excessive pronation.
Neutral or medium arches usually have more normal pronation patterns that efficiently absorb shock. You will probably have less risk of injury and could use most any shoe that provides stability and basic support under your arch.
With high arches, you may not pronate as much, and the shock as your foot hits the ground can be transferred to your ankles and legs. You would do better with shoes that do not have stability control, with softer support under the arch that encourages it to roll a little more.
Finding Help for Arch Problems
Don’t worry if your arch doesn’t fit the perfect archetype. If you have developed pain in your heel or the ball of your foot, visit Waukesha Foot Specialists for a consultation. Dr. David Guhl and Dr. Amy Miller-Guhl will examine your foot structure and diagnose what is causing your pain. Treatments range from simple things like changing your shoe type and using the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method to physical therapy, custom orthotics, or even surgery if it is needed. Call us today at (262) 544-0700. We are eager to help you find relief from your pain and get you back to your active lifestyle.