Flatfoot vs. High Arch

I spoke with one of my friends the other day after a run. 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 its “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. See our orthotics blog. Dr. Bowman believes in doing a biomechanical examination and taking a cast impression of your foot to get the exact shape and type of foot you have.

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. Foot pain can be due to either of the foot types and you need to seek treatment quickly.

If you have pain see Dr. Bowman. Whether your arches are flat or high, there is a myriad of treatment options for both. Dr. Bowman can be reached at 713-467-8886 or see his website for an online appointment www.houstonfootspecialists.com

Category: Foot Health

Tags: Arch Problems, Dr. Scholl's, Exercise, Flat Feet, foot pain, Foot Problems, High Arch, Running, Wet Foot Test