You may have heard of the term ‘arch support’ but still not understood what it is. Some of you may have questions like ‘ Why should I wear arch support?’ or ‘Do I need arch support?’. If this case happens to you, you are in the right place.
The foot’s natural shape and design allow you to step softly on soft ground, which is also why the foot has arches. Nowadays, most of us have footwear and walk on hard, flat surfaces. In this article, I will go through how they work, what arch supports are, the nature of the ground we walk on and how it relates to your feet arches, the harmful impacts of choosing the wrong arch support, and finally, the benefits of arch support.
How The Arch of The Foot Functions
Before delving into how arch supports benefit your foot, let’s find out how the arch of your foot works and why it relates to your foot’s flexibility and safety.
The arch of your foot is made up of three arches within your foot. Each of the arches is enhanced and protected by numerous ligaments and tendons inside your feet. The arches of the feet include two longitudinal arches (medial and lateral arches) and an anterior transverse arch. Both tarsal and metatarsal bones form the combination of these arches in your foot.
The way the arch of the foot is formed enables it to endure the weight of your body and act as absorption of shock, which is pressured in your feet when you walk. Although the arches of your feet visually seem small, they endure a tremendous amount of pressure. A study showed that the arches of your feet need to bear 200000 to 300000 pounds of pressure with a mile you walk.
In short, the arches are the core elements of movement and help to bear the stress of your whole body put onto your feet with every step. Moreover, they provide certain flexibility to your feet, which allows movements like walking, running, or jumping. The arches of the feet also assist in adapting to changes in terrain, stabilizing movement, and creating balance.
What Are Arch Supports?
Now you understand how the arch of your foot works; you might wonder what arch support is and how it helps to support your arches.
Arch support is the term used to call shoe inserts that enhance support for the arches of your foot. It can exist in many different forms, from a simple pad to complex customized support. To be more specific, arch support is an attachment that can be put into your shoes to support your feet’ arches from the daily impacts of walking on many types of surfaces and helps to relieve foot pain.
That’s the meaning of the term ‘arch support’. Now I will explain how the surfaces we walk on have changed over time and their impacts on people’s feet.
Knowing The Surfaces We Walk On In The Past And Now
Looking back at history, you’ll see that people have very different lives in almost all aspects. One aspect you may not have noticed is how the grounds we step on have changed over the years, and the result of such changes have affected our interaction with the surfaces we walk on.
Our Feet Were Designed For Soft Surfaces
Our feet are designed to step on gentle surfaces such as sand and dirt. When we walk on these gentle and soft grounds, our feet will have arch support naturally as the sand and dirt curve around our feet. However, everything has changed in the last thousand years. We have switched from stepping on soft surfaces to mainly walking on rigid, human-made grounds such as concrete, tile, wood, marble floors, to name just a few. While all of the surfaces listed are more functional and appropriate to modern life, they are not flexible like the natural surfaces we used to tread on. That’s why it matters.
Hard Surfaces Cause Stress to Our Feet
This change of the surfaces that we walk on impacts noticeably on our feet. Soft, forgiving surfaces will contour to our feet and embrace our footprint when we step on them. On the other hand, hard, flat surfaces do not curve our feet at all, forcing our feet to contour to the ground by themselves. This causes a chain response of instability that spreads from our feet to our knees and all the way up to our backs. As a result, we would suffer a variety of foot issues, as well as fatigue and pain.
Arch supports are becoming more critical than ever. Most footwear in the market now provides little or no arch support and basically serves as a barrier against debris and other elements. In addition, the majority of footwear purchases are now made based on personal design preferences rather than utility. Finding out a pair of shoes with the built-in solid support is something of a specialty. Therefore, regardless of any occasion, proper footwear and arch support are essential. No matter if it’s a pair of formal shoes for a special event or a pair of sandals for hanging out, make sure your feet are assisted with arch support products or cushion orthotics, which imitate your natural footprint and protect the arch of your feet better.
The Truth About Arch Support In Footwear
Pick one of your favorite footwear and see if there is an attachment in them; pull it out. You can notice that the bottom of your shoes right in the arch area is completely flat. That’s the reason for arch supports to exist.
You may not know that most footwear manufacturers all build their shoes with the least amount of arch support. Except for cases that you are purchasing customized or specialized shoes which feature arch support properties, you will get footwear with minimal arch support. The reason is that most of the companies want their shoes to fit your feet perfectly and beautifully, no matter what your arch type is.
As most regular footwear is not supporting the arch of your foot, the foot has to pay the price. You will definitely be surprised at the difference in attaching arch supports to your shoes. Most symptoms such as tired, fatigued feet are not parts of your life anymore or will become your past.
The Consequences of Bad Arch Support
Now you know numerous benefits of wearing arch supports to maintain your foot health. To understand more about why arch supports matter, I want to show you the main consequences of not supporting the arches properly or not having arch support attachments.
Arch pain is one of the most well-known symptoms of inappropriate support for arches. This symptom might develop for different reasons, typically due to structural problems or injuries to the bones, tendons, ligaments, or muscles that make up the arch of your foot. Specifically, structure-related issues of the arch of your foot can be triggered by some factors such as aging, gaining weight, overusing, or physical pressure. Low arches (or flat feet) and high arches are examples of structural issues.
There are a number of common foot conditions which can lead to arch pain and be triggered by unsuitable arch support. I will divide arch pain into two common conditions, which are overpronation and plantar fasciitis.
The term “overpronation” refers to the way your foot moves once you walk. When your foot moves, either while walking or running, it goes through a chain of motions. In an ideal case, when the foot meets the ground, it pronates (roll inwards) in your big toe side, and the arch of your foot tends to be flatter to absorb the shock. When you start the next step, the foot rolls back to the center (neutral position) to enable you to push off from all of your toes.
When a person overpronates, the outer side of the heel makes contact with the ground first, then rolls inward onto the arch of the foot. This is called overpronation. In other words, when the foot overpronates, it does not roll back to the center in time for you to perform the next step. Those who have flat feet are likely to pronate too much when the foot meets the surface.
Due to the misaligned footfall, the position of your knee, thigh, hip, and your lower leg is affected. Thus, the shock of your footfall is not absorbed correctly, and some parts may have to endure more pressure than they should. Overpronation may weaken the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the arch over time, resulting in arch pain.
However, there are various reasons why an individual suffers from overpronation or why their foot can not return to the center for the push-off stage. For instance, wrong gait, unsuitable shoes, muscle imbalance prevent the foot from returning to the neutral position quickly; overpronation is also triggered by overtraining when the muscles are exhausted and not able to function correctly.
Corns and calluses, as well as knee, hip, and back pain may be triggered by overpronation. Correcting overpronation and ensuring that the feet remain steady and consistent with each step can be accomplished by wearing appropriate footwear with good arch support.
Plantar fasciitis, which refers to a foot condition, is one of the most common factors of arch pain. When the plantar fascia, a ligament that binds the heel to the front of your foot, gets swollen, which leads to plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia becomes swollen as a result of it being overextended, putting tension on the foot’s tissue. When the plantar fascia is stretched for an extended period of time, small tears grow on the top, causing it to become inflamed and painful. Inflammation, pain, and discomfort will escalate if the tearing and stretching last. Wearing shoes with no arch support puts a lot of strain on your arches, which may lead to the growth and deterioration of this foot issue.
So, it’s worth noting that plantar fasciitis symptoms can be avoided by wearing shoes or sandals for plantar fasciitis with adequate arch support, which provides the arch with the support it requires while also relieving some of the friction and stretching that the plantar fascia is exposed to.
These are some examples of potential consequences that can occur when the arch of your foot is not adequately supported. Investing in footwear with supportive technology to hug your arch can help prevent the development of common foot problems and associated arch pain.
Benefits of Wearing Arch Supports
At this point, you’ve noticed the importance of arch supports and a vast number of issues that can arise from improper arch support and inadequate shock absorption. I will show you some of the main benefits you can have by wearing orthopedic footwear or using supportive products for your shoes. Continue to read to know why footwear with arch support features is better and the reasons why it is worth purchasing.
Arch supports distribute pressure.
Some people need special support for the arch of their foot. Their foot issues may require that they use additional products for more support, which helps to minimize pain or avoid any damage in the future. Arch supports are especially beneficial for those who have flat feet or are suffering from plantar fasciitis.
As the arch support will curve to fit the foot, it helps remove the pressure points that are commonly on your heel and the ball of your foot. Arch supports tend to spread weight fairly by sharing a part of the pressure into the arches of your feet instead of leaving all of that pressure in your heel and the ball of your feet.
Arch supports create a good foundation.
Sometimes, people may experience pain due to a crummy foundation. If the arch of the foot is not supported correctly, that individual may suffer from a number of conditions and feel very painful and uncomfortable. This can be prevented by simply wearing arch supports. Arch supports will slip right into your shoes, which allows you to adjust the fit and helps to reduce the likelihood of foot ailments associated with it.
Arch supports reduce or eliminate pain.
Arch supports help reduce foot pain caused by daily activities. Foot pain not only leads to discomfort but also makes it hard to be mobile. Consequently, you may get trouble in your daily routine and essential to-do things. People who have flat feet or suffer from other foot issues are required to wear arch supports to lessen their pain and improve their mobility, or at least be able to get through the days with minimum pain level.
People choose to wear arch supports mainly because they help to reduce or prevent pain. This is also the reason why arch supports are usually used for some common non-invasive treatments related to foot ailments. Many of the foot issues are solved by using suitably fitted footwear and proper arch supports.
Arch supports can boost blood flow and lessen swelling.
Almost everyone has swollen feet, which can exacerbate discomfort and immobility of our joints. Arch supports can assist with this problem and give you comfort at the most. Moreover, they will enhance your blood flow by aligning the body in the right way and minimizing the shock that your feet may get with each step you walk.
Arch supports help to minimize foot, arches, and back pain.
Most of us may believe that the function of arch supports is only supporting the feet. However, the fact is that the feet are the pillar of our whole body. It can harm the whole body if you don’t have proper foundation support. This is why arch supports are often used to aid in problems related to the alignment of your knees, hip, and back.
Furthermore, with the help of arch supports, your feet are padded properly, which significantly reduces the blow to the feet with every step. Therefore, you could avoid injuries, strain to your muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments in the feet as well.
Arch supports avoid your arches from damage.
A survey showed that over 70% of trainers and runners suffer from injuries in a year, and all of these injuries are mainly due to muscle strains and stress on the foot. The fact is that most people decide to wear arch supports only when they suffer an injury, inflammation, or trauma. However, arch supports bring tremendous benefits in preventing damage to the arches of your feet. One of the most common issues is falling arches. Another one is plantar fasciitis that can be avoided by wearing arch support. In sum, attaching arch supports for your footwear can help you in various ways.
Arch supports improve stability and balance.
Arch supports can provide a flatter surface for your feet by filling the area in your arches, which gives you balance and support when using them. As a result, you could also improve your posture and reduce foot issues related to instability and a shortage of proper support.
When Do We Need To Wear Arch Supports?
There are a significant number of reasons to wear arch supports. Now I will list some of them below.
You stand over five hours on average per day.
Standing for a long time all day is one of the factors that lead to plantar fasciitis and overuse injuries. Arch supports can assist in relieving the pressure you put on your feet.
Your shoes have been worn out already.
Let’s look at the tread on your footwear. Wearing the tread of your footwear out on one side more than the other side might indicate that your foot is pronating (rolling inward) or supinating (turning outward). Arch supports can assist in foot supination and pronation.
You have an extra-high or extra-low arch.
If you have a too low arch or a very high arch, regular footwear might not give your feet enough support it should. In these cases, arch supports help provide the support that regular shoes can not do.
You are suffering pain in the heel and foot.
While this reason may sound obvious, many of you prevent foot pain. Instead of wearing arch support, they usually blame the pain on their high heel or uncomfortable footwear. Keep in mind that heel or foot pain, especially the following day, is one of the common signs of plantar fasciitis.
You just experienced an injury on your leg.
In case that you suffered from an injury in your knee, ankle, or leg, it could be impacting the stress you put on your foot. Consequently, the way you walk would be affected. Arch supports may help you correct each of your steps.
There are some other reasons to wear arch supports. The most basic one is to give your feet enough arch supports they need, but regular shoes do not offer. Even when all of the reasons mentioned above do not apply to you, you can still benefit from adding arch supports to your shoes. Your feet will always need arch supports to freely take you everywhere you want, whether you have very arch or flat feet.
How To Find The Right Arch Support For Your Feet?
Shopping for arch support can be challenging as there are a lot of different brands out there, and choosing a sort of arch support that is right for you is overwhelming sometimes. Let’s deal with it. I will share some tips that can help you save your time and effort to buy exactly the arch supports you need.
Three questions below will help you figure out the suitable arch supports for your feet:
- What is your arch type (or arch height)?
- What is your main purpose of wearing arch supports?
- What kind of shoes will you wear with them?
First of all, you should know your arch type (arch height): low arch, neutral arch, or extra-high arch. It is very crucial as when you are considering the type of arch supports; you want to buy ones that embrace the curve of your feet the most. Arch supports for low-arch feet will not perform well for very high-arch ones.
Secondly, consider the main purpose that you use your arch supports for. Do you need them for preventing plantar fasciitis or for relieving arch pain? Or you need to wear them for some purposes such as improving performance, maintaining foot health. Arch supports are equipped with different firmness and padding levels in order to serve different using purposes.
Last but not least, ask yourself what type of footwear you will put the arch supports in. For shoes that have full-length, removable inserts, full-length arch support is appropriate. Full-length, removable but thin inserts full-length arch support with a thin top cover is a perfect choice for ones that have full-length, removable but thin inserts. And for shoes without removable inserts, you should buy ¾ length or short arch supports.
How Should Arch Support Feel On The Feet?
You may feel the arch support along your arch’s length when you begin to wear it at first. The stress can be different for each type of arch support, depending on the arch support’s stiffness. Firm arch supports that are flexible make you feel more comfortable than extremely rigid ones. However, you will break them in and get used to wearing arch supports for a few weeks. After that, you will not even notice the arch supports on your feet inside your comfortable work shoes.
If the arch supports do not feel comfortable even when you’ve given your feet time to break them in, you should make other choices. If you feel like there is a golf ball right in the arch of your foot, you are probably wearing arch support that is too high for your arch. On the other hand, if you feel like there is still room between the curve of the arch support and the arch of your foot, you probably got arch support that is too low for your arch.
Once you find proper arch support, you may wonder how your feet went so long with no appropriate arch support. You will see a significant decrease in foot pain or fatigue and also be surprised that with just a small change, you can make a big difference in how far you’ll be able to go.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I wear arch supports all the time?
It can take about four weeks until you are totally relaxed wearing your arch supports all the time or all day. We also strongly recommend that you should not use your arch supports for any strenuous physical exercise until you totally break them in.
Do arch supports work with flat feet?
The answer is yes. Arch supports can help you reduce the pain caused by flat feet. Or the doctor may recommend customized arch supports for those who have flat feet, which are designed to embrace the curve of your feet. Arch supports will not cure flat feet but can reduce symptoms.
Can I have too much arch support?
Too much arch support might not be good all the time. Thick arch supports or ones that run the entire length of your shoes can be considered too high and too heavy, which leads to ankle pain as they shift your weight to the outside of your foot.
Do arch supports improve back pain?
Good arch support might help to reduce back pain. In cases that your foot movement causes your back pain, shoes that have adequate arch support will help avoid hyper-pronation and balance your legs and back correctly. When walking or running, shoes with the proper supportive features will reduce the pressure on the back when the foot meets the surface, which could improve back pain.
How do I know whether I have high or low arches?
You can check by looking at the running shoe’s bottom. Your foot type would most likely be revealed by the wear on your shoes. You have a medium arch height and are a normal pronator when your shoe reveals even wear. You probably have a low arch if the shoes’ inner soles are frequently worn down.
How do you know if a shoe has good arch support?
A good way to check the quality of arch support of a pair of shoes is to conduct two small tests. The first one is called Twist Test: hold the shoes in both hands, then twist the toe. The more difficult it requires to twist, the better arch support is. The second experiment is to press down the back heel counter. The more difficult it is to press against the heel counter, the better arch supports the shoes provide.
How long can I break in new arch supports?
In most instances, it takes two to four weeks for the body to adjust to any kind of new arch supports. That means you can use them on a daily basis to allow the body to adapt.
How to check the foot arch type by using paper?
You stand on a big sheet of paper with damp feet; you will see whether you have high or low arches by looking at how the paper absorbs moisture from your feet. If you stand on a big sheet of paper with damp feet, you will see whether you have high or low arches by looking at how the paper absorbs moisture from your feet.
Do arch supports hurt the feet at first?
New arch supports will make most of you feel uncomfortable at first, just like you’re standing on a hard, small article and putting a lot of stress on the arch of the foot. But some people may feel great when wearing arch support for the first time. Regardless of the feeling, it is crucial to adapt to arch support gradually.
Can inadequate arch support lead to hip pain?
Bad foot arch support may cause abnormal tension on your feet, resulting in irritation and foot pain. In men, foot pain is linked to hip pain on the same side, while bilateral foot pain can be related to hip pain on both sides, the same side, or the opposite side in women.
Wrapping It Up
So you know, not only can your arches be protected and the likelihood of getting common arch issues reduced, but there is also a wide range of other great benefits that arch supports have. Arch supports are especially beneficial for those who are suffering from foot issues. As our feet significantly affect the quality of our life, it is crucial that everyone ensure that they are pain-free at all times. A quick and affordable way to achieve this is to buy and use arch supports now.
Sometimes, having surgery or purchasing expensive shoes is unnecessary, although this might be needed in a few specific cases. Instead, investing in arch supports will be enough to minimize foot pain so that they can get by without suffering too hard. Moreover, arch supports also can help a person get by until they have time or can afford to see the doctor and have a strategic plan which may be more invasive and cost a lot.