Who Needs Arch Supports?

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As a practicing podiatrist for over 12 years, I am asked about arch supports thousands of times. Most people would benefit from the "right kind" of arch supports. No two feet are alike, so the "right kind" of arch support is based on the height of ones arch. The foot has supportive ligaments and tendons that maintain the height of an arch. There are three categories of arches: low, high and medium.

Low Arch Foot Type.

Those with low arches will usually have more flexibility in their ligaments and tendons. The excessive flexibility causes the arch to collapse while standing. When the arch collapses, it creates strain on the ligaments and tendons which causes injury. As the foot is supported by the arch support, the arch remains rigid and is no longer at maximum strain. Those with excessively flat feet will often suffer from injuries to these tendons and ligaments if an arch support is not being used such as tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.

High Arch Foot Type.

The supportive ligaments and tendons are naturally tighter with less flexibility which creates a high arch foot type. High arches make adapting to uneven terrain and absorbing shock more difficult. Those with higher arches tend to suffer overuse injuries like stress fractures, frequent sprains and heel pain. A custom arch support will fit the contour of a high arch foot perfectly, increasing the stability between the flat ground and a curved foot. The support will distribute the pressure equally through the entire foot rather than just the heel and ball of the foot which will prevent injury and strain.

Medium Arch Foot Type.

Medium arch height people will likely have less foot pathology than a higher or lower arch type. Our arch height can lower with age, weight gain, pregnancy and with activities like running. An arch support can be used to prevent lowering of the arch due to these challenges.

There are major differences between over-the-counter or store-bought arch supports and custom arch supports made by a medical professional. A mass-produced device will never provide a perfect fit. The arch of the device must be more flexible to accommodate different arch heights and weight. This flexibility will lead to bottoming out of the arch support within 6 months and it will need to be replaced. A custom arch support is made from a cast of ones feet. This process will produce an arch support that can last a decade or more without collapse. It will support ones feet more completely and can be modified for specific pathology or problems.

By: Dr. Randall Contento, DPM
Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists

Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists

251 Wilmot Drive
Gastonia, NC 28054