Do I need arch supports in my shoes?May 20, 2021
We hear this question often. The answer to most questions we get asked, unfortunately is, "it depends."
In architecture, the arch is defined as a curved symmetrical structure spanning and opening that typically supports the weight of a bridge, roof or wall above it. Unfortunately, some of the recognizable arches in our current lifetime may be the golden arches on a fast food drive thru. An arch provides structure and support. The arch in our foot can do this naturally, regardless of the genetic makeup of your feet. We often hear “I have flat feet,” or the opposite I have “high arches.” making footwear and insole selections challenging. Everyone has unique needs just like medical, diet, and exercise.
We have arches on the outside and inside of our feet. The muscles on the inside of the foot run the length of between the ball of the foot and the heel help create the arch as well as pull the toes toward the ground and away from the ground. Toe flexion is important for maintaining balance and important for pushoff when walking, running, jumping
When you squat, does your big toes come off the ground? If so, you may be missing out on some major force production.
Try this sequence out:
- Feet facing forward, about hip width apart
- Grip the ground with your toes and squat down.
- Push your feet into the ground like you’re pushing away from the ground.
A note about this sequence: Keep the toe down and avoid rolling out to the outside.
If you are able to create this arch support by activating different muscles, you may consider practicing activating the toes and muscle in the feet before jumping into adding a "crutch" into your footwear.
Walking barefoot will allow the tiny joints in your feet to move. There are 26 bones, 30 joints in the human foot and over 100 muscles, ligaments that work together to allow the foot to move and bear weight. If you spend your whole day with shoes tied tight, you are not allowing your foot to fully appreciate the full potential of the joints in your foot. This may not sound like a big deal (because it’s just your feet, right?) but much of our work is helping people to regain function of joints they have lost due to not moving the joint through it’s full range of motion (ROM). The tiny muscles in your feel will also not have to work as hard if the shoe is bracing the position.
Making sure your ankles have full dorsiflexion (think bending toward your shin) will help with multiple movements including the bottom of the squat and pushing off and toe clearing with running.
If your shins are really sore when you run short distances, check your ankle mobility. Can you do a full depth squat with your feet together and not fall over? If not, you may be missing full ankle range of motion. During the bottom of the squat, you may run out of room and shift your weight
This topic will be addressed in a future blog article. We feel they are not as necessary as you may think. Treating a “leg length discrepancy” with inserts is not always the most practical thing. Neither is telling someone they have a leg length discrepancy.
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