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How to Determine Arch Types with Absolute Ease

How to Determine Arch Types with Absolute Ease

Ligaments, bones, and tendons form the arches of our foot, and all of these are essential for proper functioning. The shape, as well as the height of the foot arches, are unique—no two people have the same arch. That is why it is essential to know how to determine arch types.

What Are the Three Different Arches of the Foot?

Human feet are an incredibly complex mechanism which has two important functions, which include weight bearing and propulsion in jumping, walking, and running. In order to perform all these functions, our feet require a high degree of flexibility and stability. All the joints and bones of our feet give this necessary flexibility, but to fully support any weight, the bones of our feet need to form an arch.

While everyone’s foot is different, there are three distinct arches, which are:

  • Medial longitudinal arch: This is considered to be an essential foot arch, and this is what is typically referred to as just “the arch”. This arch runs from the front to the back and through the inside of our foot. It can absorb a significant part of the shock produced by the impact experienced while running, walking, or jumping.
  • Lateral longitudinal arch: This arch runs precisely parallel to the medial longitudinal arch but is on the outside edge of our feet. This is typically visible in people who tend to have a high arch.
  • Transverse arch: The final and the last foot arch is known as the transverse arch. This arch runs through the midfoot from the outside to the inside. This too provides our foot with support as well as flexibility.

Our feet arches aren’t just maintained by the shapes of the ligaments and the bones. The tendons and muscles also play a significant role in giving support to every one of these arches.

How to Determine Arch Types

The arches and the other tissues of our foot can help determine a person’s foot type. There are three common foot types, and they are:

1. High Arches

A high arch is also known as cavus foot or pes cavus. This is in most cases hereditary, but quite rare.

As the height of a person varies in general, this arch may not necessarily be a problem. However, a high arch can be more prone to overuse injuries especially when you run, jump, or play sports.

Additionally, high arches do not have the best ability to absorb shock or even to provide enough support while walking. In such cases, it is ideal to select shoes that have a ton of cushion within or one that has a custom-molded shoe insert so that it can absorb the shock.

2. Normal Arches

If you find that the middle part of your foot is about half filled, then it is most likely that you have a normal arch. This arch can naturally support your body’s weight. In addition, it can pronate under an average load.

People with a normal arch don’t need to worry about shoes and their soles. Ideally, look out for shoes that have firm midsoles and semi-curved to straight lasts. Last refers to the shape of the shoe’s sole.

3. Fallen Arches or Flat Feet

When you look at newborn babies or even children, it will appear that they have flat feet. This is mainly because they have fatter pads on the soles. As they grow, this develops into a distinct arch.

Adults can either have a flexible flat foot or can get a flat foot deformity when the posterior tibial tendon tends to become weak, which ultimately results in fallen arches.

If the flexible flat foot is too painful, then it is recommended that you buy custom shoe orthotics to stretch the Achilles tendon. Adult-acquired flatfoot may require custom shoes or even walking boots, as well as physical therapy or surgery.

Why Does the Arch Type Matter?

Sometimes, even the smallest of things can really cause us a ton of discomfort. Hence, knowing your arch type is an absolute must, regardless of whether you are a runner or an average Joe. Knowledge is power and finding out if you have flat feet, high arches, or normal arches can help you be more proactive the next time you go shoe shopping.

Once you know your exact foot arch type, you will either be able to buy shoes according to your arch or be able to buy soles that will work well for your feet. You will also be better equipped to treat your foot pain and to prevent any injuries such as plantar fasciitis.

If you think that you need to book an appointment with an orthopedic doctor to figure your arch type, the answer is no. Figuring your arch is simple. You can actually do it in the comfort of your home.

Foot Arch Test

This is a quick and simple way to know what your foot arch is. All you just need is a brown paper bag or cardboard along with a bucket of water.

  1. Start by thoroughly wetting your feet, but primarily focus on keeping the bottom of your foot fully wet.
  2. Carefully remove your feet from the water and then place it on the brown paper bag or the cardboard. Make sure that you put your whole body weight on that bag when you stand on it so that there is a clear footprint on it.
  3. Remove your feet from the bag or cardboard and carefully examine your arch type.
  4. Depending on the shape of your feet on the bag, you will be able to figure whether you have flat or normal feet, as well as high, fallen, or normal arches.


Knowing how to determine arch types is a simple process. However, it is essential that you know exactly what your arch type is.

While a high arch type is extremely rare, a flat foot does not always have to be a problem. You just really need to find the right kind of shoes. Orthotics is also another assured way that you will be able to avoid plantar fasciitis and enjoy a pain-free activity.

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