What is a fallen arch on your foot?

Fallen arches are one of the most commonly talked about structural quirks your feet can have, but it’s not always immediately obvious what they are and whether they are a serious problem or just an interesting difference some people have. It can help to learn a bit about the different parts of the foot and the bones of the foot, as you can then mesh your knowledge together to understand more about the structure of the foot.

Below, we discuss what a fallen arch is, where the arches of the feet are located and how they are supposed to develop.

What are the arches of the foot?

When people talk about fallen arches or high arches, they’re typically referring to one particular arch of the three that are found in the human foot. This arch is known as the medial longitudinal arch, and it’s located in the inner curve of your foot. The word longitudinal refers to the fact that it runs from the back of the foot near your heel to the front near your toes.

To find the medial longitudinal arch on your own feet, you’ll need to take off your shoes and socks and stand barefoot with your feet parallel to each other. You should notice that the inner edges of your feet – i.e. the right side of your left foot and the left side of your right foot – curve away from the floor to some degree. This is the medial longitudinal arch.

In some people, this arch is barely noticeable, and the foot looks relatively flat in comparison to the ground. This is a phenomenon known as flat feet, or fallen arches. On the other end of the scale, you might have high arches, which is where that arched shape is particularly pronounced. Most adults’ feet sit somewhere between these two states.

How many arches are there in the foot?

As mentioned above, there are in fact three arches in the foot, but the medial longitudinal arch is usually the one people think of when they talk about the arches of the foot.

The second longitudinal arch of the foot is called the lateral longitudinal arch, which runs along the outer edge of the foot – i.e. the left side of the left foot and the right side of the right foot. The lateral longitudinal arch is much lower than the medial longitudinal arch, so most people can’t see it just by looking at their feet.

As well as the two longitudinal arches, there is also a transverse arch, which crosses the foot like a bridge. It takes a similar shape and form to a buckle or hook-and-loop tape strap that goes over your shoe from left to right or vice versa. This is what gives the top or dorsal region of your foot its curved appearance.

The three arches of the foot help to support mobility, as well as absorbing impacts and pressure. They also protect nerves, tendons and ligaments within the foot, and help to spread your weight evenly across your feet.

At what age do foot arches develop?

The inner arch of the foot has important functions within the body, so it may surprise you to learn that children aren’t born with this feature. Babies and toddlers are almost all flat-footed. The arches develop as the child grows, with some developing as early as two to three years of age, while others take longer. Most children have developed arches by the age of six.

It’s not necessarily a cause for concern if you or your child still have flat feet above the age of six. If you’re not in pain or experiencing other undesirable symptoms, then there’s no pressing need to see a doctor or a podiatrist. Make sure you or your child’s shoes fit well and are comfortable, and keep up with a good footcare routine. You can also monitor the situation, so if any pain or discomfort does occur, you can get in touch with a healthcare professional to find out what to do.

Some people prefer to see their doctor or podiatrist proactively in the case of flat feet just to be sure there are no underlying conditions to be concerned about. If this applies to you, make sure to let your doctor know of any symptoms caused by the condition, or that isn’t causing any symptoms at all.

You should also see a doctor or podiatrist if:

  • The condition is causing you any pain or discomfort
  • Only one of your feet is affected by the condition (whether the other has normal or high arches)
  • The condition is affecting your ability to carry out everyday activities

Depending on the root cause of your condition, your doctor may be able to advise on pain management or items or techniques to adjust the current structure of your foot. For example, posture-supporting insoles  can help your foot to sit in a healthier, more natural position, which may help with pain, discomfort and visual differences in the shape of your foot.

Summary
What is a fallen arch on your foot?
Article Name
What is a fallen arch on your foot?
Description
Fallen arches are one of the most commonly talked about structural quirks your feet can have, but it’s not always immediately obvious what they are and whether they are a serious problem or just an interesting difference some people have. It can help to learn a bit about the different parts of the foot and the bones of the foot, as you can then mesh your knowledge together to understand more about the structure of the foot.
Author
Publisher Name
ZeroSole

About the author

Heather Smart

Heather began innovating offloading insoles and orthotic devices for diabetic foot ulcers as undergraduates. Her research provided instrumental data which sparked off further R&D projects relating to the ZeroSole Reliever insole, all of which has paved the way to developing numerous disruptive products, not just in the pharmaceutical retail sector, but in the medical sector too. As a founder, Heather is on a mission to make ZeroSole the go-to brand for innovative offloading (pressure-relieving) technologies that are effective, simple and easy to use.
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