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Flat Feet – Do I Need an Arch Support?

How To Recognise Your Foot Type

The simplest way is to wet your feet and then stand upright with your feet comfortably apart on a flat dry surface that will allow you to examine the footprints that you leave as you carefully step away. You may need some dry paper – it is easier if the paper is dark. Quite often a shiny flat floor is adequate.

The more of your inner arch that you can see in the footprint – the lower your inner arch is.

The diagram shows three types of foot:-
Left – low arch (flat foot)
Middle – normal arch
Right – high arch (cavus foot)

This can be quite an accurate test for those who have a high arched foot but this accounts for less than 10% of the population. For the rest of us we fall somewhere between normal and low-arched.
Flat-footed is actually quite rare, probably less than 5% have no inner arch at all.

If you have a low arch this could be due to a number of factors:-

  • congenital abnormality – you were born with slightly misshapen bones
  • acquired flat foot – lax ligaments and weak muscles allow arch to drop
  • damaged or torn tendon that supports the arch – Tibialis Posterior Tendon
  • fracture to or dislocation of one of the foot bones
  • neurological changes – affecting muscle action
  • rheumatoid arthritis – often leads to acquired flat foot

For further information about the foot Click Here

Arch Supports / Orthotics

Foot OrthoticThe use of orthotics (as in the picture) for flat feet can help to control the foot and heel position.
For over-pronation in athletes this may help if they are getting foot or lower leg pain.
However they need to be custom fitted and should be carried out by a specialist using a plaster cast of your foot. Over the counter orthotics can be a bit of a gamble because they do not take into account what is happening in the hind foot.


Foot strengthening exercises, hip muscle exercises and calf stretching should be the first place to start your rehabilitation. If this is not totally successful in fixing your symptoms then go to see a Sports Podiatrist or the equivalent for a prescription orthotic suitable for your sport.

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