How to Tell If You Have High, Low, or No Arch

As an expert in foot health, Dr. Ankur Dharia has seen every type of foot anatomy you can imagine. He also understands how the way your foot is made can affect your health and comfort. Having a high or low arch or no arch at all can lead to problems.

The importance of the arch

The arch of your foot, the curved area on the inside of your foot between the ball and the heel, flexes and absorbs shock with each step you take. It also helps control how far inward your ankle rolls inward, called pronation, with each step. Finally, there are health conditions associated with having both a high arch or flat feet.

How to determine your arch

It’s easy to tell if your arch is high, low, or if you have no arch at all. Wet your feet, then stand on a piece of cardboard, large piece of paper, or paper bag — anything that will show your damp footprint.

The print of a foot with a normal arch will show your toes, the balls of your feet, about half your foot through the middle where your arch is, and your heel. A high arch will show only the ball of your foot and your heel, or only a very narrow part of the outside of the middle of your foot, you likely have a high arch. And, if you see a full foot, you probably have a low arch or even no arch at all.

A high arch

The medical term for a foot with a very high arch is cavus foot.  It can develop at any time in your life and can be a genetic defect or be associated with numerous underlying causes.

A very high arch puts too much pressure on the ball of your foot and your heel. It can undermine your stability, making it difficult to avoid twisting or spraining your ankle. Other symptoms include:

  • Claw toes – your toes bend downward and dig into your shoes
  • Calluses on the tips of your toes, the outer edge of or ball your foot, or on your heel
  • Pain, when you walk or, stand
  • Instability that may lead to frequent twisted or sprained ankles

Several treatments can help with a high arch, such as custom orthotics, bracing, or surgery depending on your situation.

Low or no arch

The terms “fallen arch” or “flatfoot” refer to a low or no arch. There are many different kinds of flatfoot, arising from a range of disorders. It’s a much more complex disorder than you may realize. Some people never experience any problems because of a low arch, and others experience pain in their feet, shins, back, hips, or knees as a result of the problem.

Flexible flatfoot is a common problem that is a result of having no arch. If your arch disappears when you stand, but appears to be there when you’re sitting, you may have flexible flatfoot. There are numerous treatments for the condition that can relieve the pain and symptoms you feel.

If you have pain in your feet or you suspect you may have a problem with the arches in your feet, book an appointment at Jersey Foot & Ankle Institute. Dr. Dharia has the expertise to diagnose your problem and suggest a treatment plan that may help. You can request an appointment online, or you can schedule by calling us at (908) 874-7592.


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