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What are High Arches? | Causes and Treatments

High arches are characterized by an abnormally high arch in the foot that does not flatten when standing. The arch of the foot appears more pronounced and elevated than a normal foot.

A person with high arches may also have a visible curve in the midfoot area, and the toes may appear to be clawed or contracted, with the ball of the foot being pushed forward. The foot may also appear narrower than normal, and the heel may be angled inward.

The most obvious symptom of high arches is their associated pain, and giving additional support to your arches can help alleviate pain and prevent further injury. In severe cases, high arches can cause problems with walking and standing and may require medical attention, so it’s best to treat the problem before the problem becomes extreme. Learn more about how one of the best ways to treat high arches is with custom orthotics.

What Are High Arches?

High arches, also known as cavus foot, is a foot condition characterized by a higher-than-normal arch in the foot. In a normal foot, there is an arch on the sole that helps absorb shock and distribute weight during movement. However, in a foot with high arches, this arch is significantly higher than normal, causing the foot to have less surface area in contact with the ground.

High arches can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired later in life. Some common symptoms associated with high arches include pain, instability, and difficulty fitting into shoes. Individuals with high arches may also experience ankle sprains, calluses, and foot fatigue more frequently.

Possible Causes of High Arches

What are High Arches? | Causes and Treatments

There are several causes of high arches. The most common cause of high arches is usually inherited genetic factors. This means that a person is born with a higher-than-normal arch and it is not the result of any other underlying condition or injury.

In some cases, the cause of high arches may be a combination of genetic factors and other medical conditions or injuries. It is important to note that the specific cause of high arches can vary from person to person.

Some of the most common causes of high arches are:

  • Genetics can be a factor that can cause high arches. They can be inherited from one or both parents. It is often seen in people with certain genetic conditions such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Friedreich’s ataxia, and Ehler’s-Danlos syndrome.
  • High arches can be caused by certain neurological conditions that affect the muscles and nerves in the feet, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida.
  • High arches can occur when there is an imbalance between the muscles and tendons that support the foot. This can be caused by factors such as weak ankle muscles, tight calf muscles, or abnormalities in the foot bones.
  • Trauma can be a cause of high arches. In some cases, high arches can develop as a result of an injury to the foot, such as a fracture or dislocation.
  • Several medical conditions may also be associated with high arches, such as arthritis, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis.

Why are High Arches Problematic?

Normal arches are meant to support and absorb shock. It is important to give efficient support to each arch of the foot to avoid damage to the feet. High arches can cause a variety of conditions and complications. Some of the conditions that can be associated with high arches include:

  • Plantar fasciitis: High arches can cause increased stress on the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, leading to inflammation and pain.
  • Hammertoes: High arches can cause the toes to curl downward, which can lead to the development of hammertoes.
  • Metatarsalgia: High arches can cause increased pressure on the ball of the foot, leading to pain and inflammation in the area.
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome: High arches can cause compression of the tibial nerve as it passes through the tarsal tunnel in the ankle, leading to pain, tingling, and numbness in the foot.

Aside from various conditions caused by high arches, several details can make high arches inconvenient and can even increase the risk of injury.

The high arch in the foot can reduce the surface area in contact with the ground, which can reduce the foot’s ability to absorb shock during movement. This can lead to an increased risk of stress fractures, ankle sprains, and other injuries.

High arches also put extra pressure on certain parts of the foot, such as the ball and heel. This can cause pain and discomfort, especially during activities that involve prolonged standing or walking.

Feet with high arches may be more unstable. They can be prone to rolling outward (supination) or inward (pronation). This can affect their balance and increase their risk of falls. High arches can also limit the range of motion in the foot, making it more challenging to perform certain activities that require flexibility in the foot and ankle.

Another setback people with high arches may experience is trouble finding shoes. High arches can make it difficult to find shoes that fit properly and provide enough support. Many shoes are designed for people with normal arches, so people with high arches may need to seek out specialized footwear or orthotics.

High Arches Can Cause Pain Elsewhere

The feet are not the only place where high arches can cause pain. High arches can cause pain and discomfort in other areas of the body besides the feet, including:

  • Ankles: High arches can increase the risk of ankle sprains and other injuries due to reduced stability and balance in the foot. High arches also cause pain in the ankles due to the altered mechanics of the foot.
    • The high arch can reduce the surface area in contact with the ground, leading to an unstable foot that is more prone to rolling outward (supination). This can put additional stress on the ankle joint and increase the risk of ankle sprains and other injuries.
    • People with high arches may also have a tighter Achilles tendon, which can further contribute to ankle pain. The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone and helps to control the ankle’s movement. When the Achilles tendon is tight, it can limit the flexibility of the ankle, making it more difficult to absorb shock and maintain stability.
  • Knees: The altered mechanics of the foot and leg associated with high arches can also affect the alignment of the lower extremities, which can lead to improper distribution of forces during weight-bearing activities. This can cause the knee to absorb more impact than it is designed to handle, leading to pain and discomfort in the knee joint.
    • People with high arches may also have tight calf muscles, which can further contribute to knee pain. Tight calf muscles can alter the mechanics of the foot and leg, causing an increase in stress on the knee joint.
  • Hips: High arches can cause pain in the hips due to the altered mechanics of the foot, leg, and pelvis. The resulting supination caused by high arches can increase pressure on the outer part of the leg and hip. This, in turn, can cause the pelvis to tilt upward on the affected side, which can lead to an increase in stress on the hip joint.
    • The altered mechanics of the foot, leg, and pelvis associated with high arches can also affect the alignment of the lower extremities, which can cause an imbalance in the muscles that support the hip joint. This can lead to muscle weakness or imbalances in the hip and pelvis, which can further contribute to hip pain.
  • Back: The altered gait and posture associated with high arches can also cause strain on the lower back, which can lead to back pain and discomfort. Supination can lead to increased pressure on the outer part of the leg and hip. This can cause the pelvis to tilt forward and upward on the affected side, which can lead to an increase in stress on the lower back.
    • The altered mechanics of the foot, leg, and pelvis associated with high arches can also affect the alignment of the spine. The increased stress on the lower back can cause an increase in curvature of the lower spine, called hyperlordosis, which can lead to muscle strain and tension in the lower back. This can cause pain and discomfort in the lower back and may also contribute to pain in the upper back and neck.

Why Should You Wear Custom Orthotics for High Arches?

Custom Orthotics For High Arches

High arches can be painful and can lead to some secondary conditions that could be extreme. It is best to treat high arches promptly to avoid any increased risk of injury.

Custom orthotics can be beneficial for individuals with high arches, as they are designed to provide additional support and cushioning to the foot. They are not invasive and they are designed to fit the unique shape and structure of an individual’s foot.

The customized fit can improve comfort and reduce pain. Use our free online quiz to see what type of orthotic will be best for your high arches. Orthotics increase stability and help reduce the risk of falls and ankle sprains.

Custom orthotics redistribute pressure across the foot’s arches, helping realign the feet, ankles, legs, and spine. Order your first pair of custom orthotics and get started with pain relief today.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is the best treatment for high arches?

Treatments for high arches include custom orthotics, physical therapy, and or medications.

  • What problems are associated with high foot arch?

Problems associated with high foot arches include ankle injuries, knee pain, as well as back pain.

  • Does a podiatrist treat high arches?

Yes. A podiatrist can provide ways to support as well as treat high arches.

  • What is the best thing for high arches and standing all day?

The best thing to do is to support the high arches through the use of custom orthotics such as Bilt Labs.