While some feel that flat feet are the only bio-mechnaical issue that runners can face. In this guide, we take a look at high arches and how they can affect you as a runner.
You have high arches, that’s a good thing, right? Wrong. Just when you thought your high and mighty foot arches were preferable to having pavement-slapping flat feet, it turns out that they too can cause a myriad of problems for you as a runner. In this article, we answer your questions on the issues surrounding high-arched feet.
The medical term for very high arches is pes cavus, but not all cavus feet are the same. As the name suggests, a large gap is visible between the arch of a cavus foot and the floor, but the height of the arch will vary from one person to the next.
If you have high arches, much greater pressure is placed on the ball and heel of each foot as you stand or walk and this can lead to pain in your feet and legs in everyday life.
Other problems include a tendency for toes on a cavus foot to curl under, known as clawing, and this increases the potential to suffer from corns on the toes or callouses on the ball of the foot as it can be difficult to find shoes that fit comfortably.
But, depending on the severity, not everyone with high arches experiences pain, and it can be something that only becomes problematic when those feet take up running!
High-arched feet are less effective shock absorbers compared to normal feet, meaning the shock generated by each heel strike as you walk or run travels up through the ankles, knees and hips and into the lower back instead.
When you put this together with the added pressure on the ball and heel of a high-arched foot and then throw a high-impact activity into the mix, something is going to give.
Potential problems include:
The potential problems listed above make grim reading if you have high arches, but they don’t represent the end of the road if you’re a runner. Preventing overuse injuries and protecting your feet and joints comes down to kitting yourself out with appropriate running shoes.
Orthotic insoles can provide the additional support your feet need without having to invest in new running shoes. Off-the-shelf or custom insoles can help to stabilise the foot, provide additional shock absorption, and relieve pressure points by spreading the weight load more evenly across the foot.
An appointment with a podiatrist or sports therapist is recommended to get the best solution for your feet.
Exercises designed to build strength and increase the flexibility of your feet can provide a long-term solution to staying pain-free as you run. Here are a few examples:
Make sure you watch this great video by Robin DuFour for some more great foot exercises.
So, there you have it. High arches can be problematic, but they needn’t prevent you from running. High-tail your high arches to a specialist running shop today – but don’t become Forrest Gump tomorrow. Whatever your running level, follow a progressive training programme to ensure you stay injury free.