High Arch or Flat Feet...What About Them?

What does it mean when people talk about having a high arch or flat feet? These terms seem to be “buzz words” when it comes to topics of the foot. Just what is going on at the foot when it comes to these conditions?

When it comes to flat feet (“pes planus”), aside from potential anatomical changes, there can also be insufficient muscular support. The posterior tibialis (“post tib”) is a muscle that lies along the inside region of your calf, and it plays an essential role in helping to support the arch of the foot.

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When this muscle is not working the way that it is supposed to, it can facilitate a collapsed arch, which can lead to pain/discomfort along the inside of the ankle and lower calf. This is one of the more commonly seen symptoms involving a collapsed arch and can range from being a minor irritation to potentially a limiting factor in being able to participate in daily or recreational activities such a running, walking, or even working out, to name a few.

With regards to high arches (“pes cavus”), while this is generally a less common issue that leads to foot pain, it can play a roll when it comes to plantar fasciitis. As you might have seen on our Facebook Page, one of the contributing factors to plantar fasciitis is that the plantar fascia, a tissue that attaches from the ball of the foot to the heel, is having to take on more load than it is able to handle at its current state. Symptoms are most commonly present at or near the heel region and are more prominent in the mornings or after extended activity as opposed to during activity.

This condition can be exacerbated by the fact that the arch of the foot is higher than what is optimal for an individual, leading to a more taut plantar fascia, less-than-ideal weight distribution towards the outside region of the foot and impaired shock absorption. Any of these factors can lead to limitations when trying to get back into exercise, or even just performing daily tasks around the house.

Some of the ways in which these issues can be addressed is through muscle strengthening, arch support through orthotics (shoe inserts), or foot mobilizations, all of which can be addressed and discussed by working with a physical therapist or chiropractor. They can help you identify which method or combination of treatment you can benefit most from, leading to improved level of function and quality of life.

So, take that step(!) towards restoring your belief in health’s potential and see a physical therapist or chiropractor today!

Dr. Kevin Cheung, PT, DPT