Do I have a Flat Foot or a High Arch?

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I went on a run the other day with one of my best buddies. We went trail running on mostly dirt and grass using Nike Free Run and Nike Lunarlite minimal support running shoes. We started discussing shoe gear and what his “foot type” is. He said he didn’t know if he had a flat foot or a high arch and didn’t know how to tell the difference. I have never really thought that people might not know how to distinguish between the two.

I told him that, statistically speaking, he probably had a flattened arch or “pronated” foot type. There really isn’t a “perfect” foot type. More Americans have symptoms of flat feet vs. high arches. This can be related to an increase in body weight as the feet attempt to support the weight increase by slightly widening your stance. The widened stance causes the ankle to turn inward, decreasing the arch of your foot. Flat feet can also be inherited regardless of body weight. Some individuals simply have collapsed arches due to inherited bone structure/position or flexibility in the foot. In any case, tendons, ligaments and joints on the inside of the foot are stretched, fatigued and begin to cause pain. Pain doesn’t have to be limited to the foot though. As the rest of your body compensates for bad foot position, other joints, tendons and ligaments begin to stretch.

So how do you tell if you have a flat foot vs. a high arched foot?

1. Look!!
As I said above, MOST feet are more on the flat side vs. high arch. With your foot on the ground and bearing your FULL body weight examine the inside of your feet to see if a slight arch is present.

2. Wet foot test
This is an easy way to check your foot type. Get a basin of water, submerge your foot, remove and stand on a piece of paper or cardboard on the floor. When you lift your foot a water stain remains (don’t drench the paper or cardboard). You should be able to visualize which foot type you have. Below are images to help!

Insert Foot in Water
Place wet (not drenched) foot on paper
The water stain on the paper should reveal one of the following

3. Dr. Scholl’s Foot Mapping

Although they claim it’s “revolutionary”, these machines are in many Podiatry offices and did not start with Dr. Scholl. The concept is to step on a pressure pad and a computer analyzes and maps your foot. A fancy, multicolored picture shows the same thing the simple water test above shows. The computer then assigns your foot a number which is matched to a pre-made type of shoe insert. These fancy scanners only show the pressure points of your foot and do not actually show what the foot should look like in a neutral position. They are enticing because they seem state-of-the-art but are, in my opinion, a waste of money. At Foot and Ankle Specialists of The Woodlands we offer the best over-the-counter inserts and custom inserts on the market. We only supply the best products to our patients. Unfortunately, most OTC orthotics are just not very good.


4. See your local Podiatrist
The best answer to the question in the title of this blog is…WHO CARES?! The truth is, it doesn’t matter what type of foot you have if it is not painful! If you are a runner with general pains in your foot it is more than likely due to the fact that you’re a runner! Of course your feet hurt. It can also be from putting in more mileage or changing shoes. It isn’t necessarily that you have a bad foot type.

If you have pains, see your Podiatrist! Whether your arches are flat or high, there is a myriad of treatment options for both. At Foot and Ankle Specialists of The Woodlands, we offer treatments aimed at both flat and high arched feet. We have treatments that can fix your foot pains.

For more information contact Dr. Marcin N. Vaclaw

Foot and Ankle Specialists of The Woodlands

9191 Pinecroft Drive Suite 150

The Woodlands, TX



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