If you have flat feet or low arches you may have been told that is bad. You may have been placed in orthotics or feel that you need shoes with “good arch support” because of this issue.
It’s More About Function
But having low arches is not necessarily a bad thing. What you want to learn about your foot is this: can you bear weight through the wide tripod of your foot while going from supination (high arched shape) to pronation (low arched foot shape)? If you are able to do this, then I would not worry about having a foot that appears somewhat flat, because you have a functional foot!
The Foot Tripod
When I perform tests on my patients’ feet, often their feet are not functional. Rather than standing on a wide tripod at the big toe knuckle, pinky toe knuckle and heel, often we are standing on very narrow tripods. An example of a narrow tripod is the second toe knuckle, inside of the big toe and the heel. Some people have a narrow tripod at the outside of their foot as well. These narrow tripods are more like standing on ice skates and are much less stable. Having a narrow tripod also robs us of using our muscles properly form the ground up. It may be hard to realize the affects of this until you try grounding though a wide tripod using props (such as foot wedges). It is amazing how different it feels to move with a grounded, wide, healthy tripod!
Is Your Foot Dynamic?
Another common foot function issue is that we tend to get stuck in a particular foot shape. This means that we don’t dynamically go from the high arched foot shape to the flatter foot shape very well. Because our foot is sluggish or stuck in this shape, we do not walk or run properly, absorb shock well, or use our muscles well from the ground up. We lose the FLOW we should have as we walk. Different body parts have to make up for the lack of movement in the foot, leading to compensation, stiffness and pain.
This video explains how flat feet can affect they way you walk:
I hope you are beginning to understand how much your feet affect the rest of your body! This is why when someone comes to me with back pain or shoulder pain, I am looking at their feet during their evaluation! Changing the way your feet interact with the ground changes the way you use your entire body, which also changes the way you feel.
External Arch Support from Orthotics and Shoes
More about the orthotics and shoes with good arch support…there are certain foot types that do benefit from extra support but often people are placed in these kinds of artificial support unnecessarily. Orthotics rob you of natural dynamic function in our feet and prop your arches up. You have muscles you can and should train to make an arch for you!! And depending on high arched shoes is pretty much the same thing. So yes you may be one of the rare cases that requires orthotics. But I recommend that you learn how to improve your foot mobility and strength. And connect your foot exercises to movements that you naturally do when you walk.
Importance of Whole Body Evaluation and Treatment That Includes Your Feet
If you have never had a thorough full body evaluation that includes your feet, I highly recommend that you schedule one. Having someone watch the way you stand, breathe and move and then working on the imbalances found is a terrific way to tolerate an active lifestyle with fewer aches and pains!