What Are The Three Arches of The Foot?

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The foot is a very complex system of support that is perfectly balanced in order to support the entire structure of the body.  There are not one but three arches of the foot that we are going to take a look at and be discussing.  These are:

  • Medial Longitudinal Arch ( heel to ball of big toe )
  • Lateral Longitudinal Arch  ( heel to ball of little toe)
  • Anterior Transverse (Metatarsal) Arch  ( ball of big toe to ball of little toe)

The foot is designed to walk on various levels of terrain.  It is flexible and is under constant gravitational pressure as the weight of the person is put down on it while walking, standing, sitting, and running.  When the arches are broken down, pain can be felt in various parts of the body, and it can be excruciating.  

The Medial Longitudinal Arch is the arch in the foot that many of us know. It is where we have arch support in our shoes and orthotics.  We are actually not born with arches but they form as we start to walk.  The arches in our feet perform extremely important functions – without them it can be argued that humas would still be swinging in the trees!

What Do The Three Arches Of The Foot Do?

Arches are there to simply add a little spring in your step.  They allow the soft tissue to spread out with each step and protect the bones of the foot.  Remember, your foot is carrying all of your weight and with each step, this arch will spread that weight out and is there for a softer landing.  

They are there to provide better stability and help propel us forward when moving.  Your foot will actually adapt over time to how you walk and run.  When the three arches are together they form a triangle in the center of the foot.  This triangle is called the plantar vault and it distributes the weight of your entire body when your foot hits the ground.  Over time this part of your foot can become irritated or injured, sometimes requiring surgical intervention or custom orthotics to help relieve the pressure and control the pain.  

What Are Some Common Arch Problems?

Arch collapse is one of the most common issues that we see with these three arches.  It happens due to gravitational pressure that is put on the feet day in and day out. This can be treated with Physical therapy and oftentimes a custom orthotic of some type as well.  When you have a weakened arch, the body starts to rely on other parts of the foot and soon you have poor posture as well.  This can cause pain throughout the body – especially the knees, hips, and lower back – and not just in the foot area.

Plantar fasciitis is another common issue.  This is where the plantar fascia ligament is strained too much by lack of proper shoe support.  Other reasons could be from doing a job that requires standing for extended periods of time.  Runners often experience plantar fasciitis as they have put too much pressure on their feet and the spring has sprung.  Ouch! This can be a dull to very sharp pain.  There are physical therapy treatments and even injections to help control the pain and get the ligaments back to where they belong, all while using custom orthotics to help manage the pain and pressure.  There are some home remedies too such as stretching the foot, applying ice, and taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medications.

Flat foot is another common arch issue.  This issue is usually a hereditary issue.  It only requires treatment when it is painful or troublesome.  Now, what do you do when you are experiencing foot pain? Remember, foot pain isn’t normal so getting help is the best way to regain your proper footing!

Where Do I Get a Pair of Personalized Orthotics?

The Shoe Doctor has specialized in providing custom orthotics for 20 years. The right orthotic insoles can greatly reduce foot, knee and hip pain while increasing performance and comfort. Russell at The Shoe Doctor will help educate and assist you in finding the perfect solution for your particular situation. We will create a 3D map of your feet and make custom orthotics for your hiking boots, everyday shoes, and everything else in between. These orthotics, along with our expert advice, will get you using orthotics like a pro, and have you performing at your peak of your abilities in no time!  If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, give The Shoe Doctor a call to get the best custom orthotics in the area! We are here to assist you, give us a call at (925) 820-0220 for your free consultation!


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Russell Pate

Russell has been a Certified Pedorthist for over 28 years.

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