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Understanding High Arches: Expert Advice from a Physical Therapist

There's a lot of information out there about flat feet and the solutions seem pretty intuitive. Wear insoles to give your arches more support or strengthen your foot muscles to help recreate that arch again. But why is there so much less out there about high arches?

Well in truth, it's just not all that common. And even those who have high arches don't experience many negative symptoms because of it. And for those who do, it probably isn't because of your high arch at all! I'll explain why, but let's start with the anatomy.

About 20% of people have high arches also known as pes cavus as opposed to flat feet. 

How does a high arch develop? Well, it could be just genetic or it could have developed over time. A rigid midfoot is usually a symptom of high arches and can happen if you were crammed in the womb and didn't have much space.

Let’s talk about pain! A high arch would rarely cause you pain. Anatomically, it's more efficient for your arch to be a little higher than flatter in my professional opinion. Most of the time there aren't many people who complain about painful debilitating issues with high arches in our clinic. 

Now with all of that being said, the mechanics of high arches can cause other conditions that may lead to pain such as:

  • Metatarsalgia

  • Plantar fasciitis

  • Hammertoe

  • Claw toes

  • Ankle instability

  • Metatarsal fractures

I want to reiterate once again and I’m sure the podiatrist world will burn me at the stake if you're experiencing pain in your feet but it may not necessarily be your high arches but another problem down the chain.

If you feel like you have foot pain from your high arches I urge you to rule out some other problems first:

  1. The nerves in the foot or from your back because you are rigid at the foot there is a good chance your lower back and neck work a little harder triggering more compression in the back

  2. You are more likely to have postural and back-neck issues than foot issues. So you should work on weak hip musculature, core and postural muscles

  3. And if it is truly just a structural problem the best solution may just be orthotics

I know I know. I’m usually a proponent of good exercises but this is one of those instances that getting orthotics might be the best course of action.

So there you have it dealing with high arch pain could be helped with good orthotics and management of posture and core muscles. But if you find your symptoms persist, it might be a good time to seek out and MD or Podiatrist to rule out fractures or other structural problems in your feet.

Heal smarter, not harder,

Dr. Justin C Lin

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