High Arched Feet

Foot Health Problems and Solutions for High Arches

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High arches can lead to foot problems. When describing foot structure or type, the opposite extreme from a flat foot is the high-arched foot. A high-arched foot lacks the needed flexibility for absorbing shock and tends to roll outward or supinate, which can increase the risk of ankle sprains. Also known as a pes cavus deformity or a cavus foot type,

Foot Health Problems with High Arches

High-arched feet can be associated with foot health issues, such as:

Do You Have a High-Arched Foot?

How do you know if you have a high-arched foot? A podiatrist (foot specialist) can evaluate your foot structure and function while you are non-weight bearing and while you walk to assess whether you have a flat foot, neutral foot, or high-arched foot. You can also get an idea of your foot type by observing the impression your feet make in wet sand or on textured paper after stepping into water. A high-arched foot leaves a very thin foot print because a large part of the arch area is not contacting the ground.

Finding the Right Shoes for High Arches

High arches can make shoe comfort a challenge. A person with high arches may find that shoes which are too shallow, such as certain dress shoe styles, are uncomfortable because their feet slip out. And because high-arch feet don't absorb shock well, hard-soled shoes or shoes with thin soles may cause foot and leg pain, especially at the knee.

Another issue is nerve or tendon irritation across the top of the foot from tight shoes. This can be alleviated by adding a pad under the tongue of the shoe or skipping every-other hole when lacing shoes. Shoes with a thick but flexible sole usually feel the most comfortable on high-arched feet.

Solutions for High-Arched Feet

Ankle braces, arch supports, and ankle strengthening exercises can help prevent recurrent sprains that can sometimes affect those with high-arched feet. Daily stretching of the calf muscles can help resist some of the tightness that affects the Achilles tendon and can also help control heel pain.

Causes of High Arches

In most cases, high-arched feet are a hereditary foot type and not a consequence of any other health condition. In some cases, though, a pes cavus deformity is secondary to congenital or neurological conditions such as, post-stroke paralysis, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, club foot, or muscular dystrophy.

Diabetes and High Arches

For diabetics, a high-arch foot can be especially problematic because of the excess pressure that is created on the sole of the foot.

This often creates callus build-up which can become a non-healing wound, putting a diabetic at an increased risk for limb amputation. The key to prevention is regular podiatric care to keep calluses trimmed and assess the need for prescription footwear and orthotics which decrease stress on the feet.

Sources

Marks, Richard M. (1998). Osteoarthritis and Static Deformity of the Midfoot and Hindfoot. In Sammarco, G. James & Cooper, Paul S. (Eds.) Foot and Ankle Manual (pp. 150-158). Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.

Reiley, Mark A. (1995). Guidelines for Prescribing Foot Orthotics. Thorofare, NJ: SLACK, Inc.

Reeves, Christopher, et. al. (2011) Conquering Peroneal Tendinopathy in Athletes. Podiatry Today, 24(9), pp. 29-34.

Smith, Thomas F., Pitts, Timothy, and Green, Donald R. (1992). Pes Cavus. In McGlamry, E. Dalton, et. al. (Eds.) Comprehensive Textbook of Foot Surgery. (pp. 731-747) Baltimore: Wiliams and Wilkins.

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