Determine Your Foot Arch Type (in 3 Easy Steps!)

by | Sep 7, 2018

Knowing your arch type is an important step toward finding the best shoes and other equipment for your needs.

(If you came here trying to find your archetype, we’re afraid you’ll want the psychology group across town.)

Each foot has an arch that provides support and assists in your normal daily movement—everything from walking to running to jumping. While there is a “standard” arch that is considered ideal for these duties, many people do not have it.

When a foot arch is higher or flatter than the standard, it can alter the way weight and forces are distributed across the foot, as well as how the foot and ankle move. This has the potential to lead to foot and heel pain, as well as pain even higher up the body in the knees, legs, and hips. (It’s all connected, after all!).

Even if your arch type isn’t causing you any noticeable trouble, it should still play a role in your general shoe choices. This can help provide needed stability in your daily motion and resist problems from developing later.

Although a proper exam is naturally the best way to determine the specifics of your arches and other structural items of note in your feet, there is a very simple test you can do right at home to get a general gauge of your arch type.

The Wet Test

What You’ll Need

  • Water
  • A shallow pan or casserole dish, able to fit your foot
  • A brown paper bag or piece of cardboard (lighter shades are better)
  • A camera (a smartphone with camera option is fine)

What to Do

  • Pour water into the pan. Do not fill it all the way, but enough that all parts of the bottom of your foot will get wet.
  • Carefully step into the water with one foot.
  • Remove your foot and step onto the flattened paper bag or piece of cardboard. Put your weight on it, as if you were walking.
  • Remove your foot and photograph the resulting footprint. (Water can dry pretty quickly!)
  • Repeat the entire process with your other foot.

Reading Your Results

You should have two footprints to examine. The shape of each print can be a useful indicator of where your arches rest. The middle section of your footprint is where you should focus the most attention.

A Standard Arch will look about halfway filled in along the midsection, with a noticeable curve along the inside of the foot. If you see this, odds are good that your arches are at the ideal height for properly absorbing impacts and supporting your foot.

The footprint of someone with a High Arch may see only a thin section filled in along the midsection. In some cases, only the heel and ball of the foot will be present with no connecting section at all!

A Flat Arch, on the other hand, will typically show a very wide midsection with little to no curvature. When a young child draws a footprint, it typically looks like this.

What Do These Arch Types Mean?

If you notice that your footprint is indicative of a high or flat arch, it’s a good idea to see us about it and get a more in-depth examination.

But, in general, these arch types can mean a few things:

If you have a Standard Arch, then things should be in generally good shape. Your body weight is likely being supported in a natural manner. When you walk, your foot will roll inward (pronate) a little, which is an important part of absorbing stress to the feet. No special shoe type tends to be needed with this type.

If you have a High Arch, your foot likely does not pronate very much and may have more difficulty absorbing the shocks of running and other activities. Your foot just doesn’t have much in the way of leverage! A lace-up shoe with healthy cushioning is often recommended for this type.

If you have a Flat Arch, you tend to be sound when it comes to absorbing shock. However, your foot may roll in too far when moving (overpronate). This adds stress to the feet and knees, increasing the risk of pain and sports injuries. A shoe that focuses on stability will be helpful in these cases. A thick, cushioned sole is a good sign of stability.

Your shoe choices are a crucial element of providing the additional support and stability you need—especially when those shoes are for more active pursuits! Having a general idea of what you need is great, but a professional can help you further. This includes flagging down a trained associate at your local shoe or sporting goods store.

In some cases, shoe choices might not be enough to provide the full support a foot might need. This is when custom-made orthotics and inserts may be considered. For more severe instances of persistent pain that doesn’t respond to other forms of treatment, an advanced treatment such as HyProCure might be an option.

Whatever point you are at with your arch type, taking action sooner than later can prevent plenty of discomfort in the future. If you have questions about your arches, we’d be happy to help you find the best choices to keep you moving comfortably.

Our Lee’s Summit office is open for you. Give us a call at (816) 246-4222 or fill out our handy online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.

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