As a foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon I can tell you one of the most common complaints I get: aching arches.
Arch pain is often caused by low arched feet. The terminology for low arched feet can be somewhat confusing but common names used to describe them includes: pes planus, overpronator, and flat feet. These terms essentially all describe the same condition.
Feet come in many different shapes in sizes. There are a broad range of foot types, from feet that are very high arched to feet that are very low arched. The majority of people with low arches have no problems at all. In fact most people don’t even know they have low arches.
I spend a lot of time explaining to my patients that just because you or your child has low arches does not mean there is anything “wrong”. I always tell them it’s just the way you’re built.
That being said, some people with low arches can develop discomfort with their arch. Sometimes, due to the position of the foot, an abnormal strain can be put on the arch, and this is often associated with a tight calf muscle, hamstring and Achilles tendons. Pain may develop with extended period of walking, standing or athletic activity.
When examining your feet it is important to look at them when standing. I often see patients that think they have normal arches because they look at them while seated on the exam table. Foot position is best accessed when full weight is being placed on the feet.
If you are having arch pain and suspect you have low arches several simple things can be done which will often improve symptoms:
- Wearing the correct type of tennis/running shoe is important. An over pronator, stability type shoe is often beneficial.
- There are also many over the counter arch supports which can also be obtained from the grocery store.
- Lastly, stretching of the calf, Achilles, and hamstring several times a day can increase flexibility and take the strain off the arch. If your pain persists, speak with a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist.