What to do if you need arch support?

Health & FitnessMedicine

  • Author Craig Payne
  • Published June 6, 2022
  • Word count 508

Our feet evolved to walk on soft and uneven ground. It did not evolve to walk on concrete. That mismatch is what many think may be the reason for a lot of the foot problems that we have today. The concrete and need for protection from the environment means that we need to wear shoes. Those shoes can deform and weaken feet. This can lead to deformities of the toes, bunions and fallen arches because of the weakness. This leads to discussion of if our footwear should have arch supports built into them or does it mean we should stop wearing shoes and do exercises to strengthen the arch muscles. Probably either extreme is not that practical. The foot is quote capable of supporting itself well and has its own built in arch supporting mechanism called the windlass mechanism. However, is the long-term wearing of shoes interfering with this mechanism, then the foot may need some extra support built into them or other options for support.

There are many different options available to support the foot if that extra arch support is needed. You could use the over-the-counter inserts that you can buy at retail. They typically work well for those that have a minor problem and are a much better alternative that the more costly ones. The only problem with this approach is that it can be a bit hit-and-miss as to if what you buy matches what your foot’s shape which means that it may or may not help. The other option is to see a podiatrist for a custom-made device. They will be able to work out what your foot needs and then take a plaster cast or take a digital scan and send that to a foot orthotic laboratory to have them make a custom-made device that matches your foot shape perfectly and has additions to change the foot the way in which the podiatrist diagnoses that it should be changed. The research evidence that these types of supports do work better, but they are probably not better for the simpler easier problems in which the over-the-counter foot supports can work for.

There are other options. There are exercises that can be done to help support the foot and they should be encouraged. However, if you have a painful problem now, it is going to take a while for the exercises to help and foot supports can work right now at helping the problems, so its going to be a balance if you need a bit of both in the early stages. Another option is footwear that has some arch support built in. A number of running shoes have support built into them and can be used for this. These shoes have a similar amount of support as the over-the-counter arch supports but can be a practical option. Some brands of flip-flops also have an arch support built into them and could be worth a try. Even those who use foot orthotics also like using these flip-flops to mix it up with these.

Archies are a very popular brand of flip-flop that have a built in arch support:

https://www.footstore.com.au/product/archies-thongs/

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