People with high arches are at increased risk for foot pain and stress fractures of their bones of their feet because their feet are usually very poor shock absorbers. A report in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (October 2007) shows that custom orthotics can help. When you run rapidly, your foot hits the ground with a force equal to about three times body weight. This force can break bones and damage muscles, nerves, and tendons. So most people land on the outside bottom of their feet and roll inward. This is called pronation which helps absorb some of the shock of the foot striking the ground. However, pronation can cause pain from stretched ligaments (plantar fasciitis), pulled tendons (tendinitis), or pinched nerves (neuromas). Some people are at high risk for injury because they have very stiff ankles that prevent their feet from rolling in normally. These people usually have normally- formed arches and only appear to have high arches.
Orthotics are special custom arch supports that help to absorb shock and prevent foot pain. To see if orthotics are likely to help you, ask your podiatrist to strap your foot with a special taping procedure called a low-dye strap. If this reduces the pain, you probably will benefit from custom orthotics. If orthotics do not cure your problem, pick another sport with limited foot impact such as cycling, swimming or rowing.
Another study from Northwest Health Science University in Minnesota shows that orthotics can help relieve fatigue and increase endurance in golfers. After six weeks using custom orthotics, the golfers felt that the inserts gave them greater energy and less fatigue when they played golf. The authors attributed the increased endurance to the orthotics, and showed that wearing orthotics increased pelvic rotation by 29 and 36 percent. Pelvic rotation means how far the pelvis rotates to the opposite side when you place one foot forward. Rotating your pelvis allows you to increase your stride length by several inches. Longer strides allow you to take fewer steps, so you do less work and have more energy. You can get custom orthotics from a podiatrist in your area.
More on Orthotics from Dr. Gene Mirkin, DPM
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