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What are High Arches? Causes and Treatments.

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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.

Causes of High Arches

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.
High Arches

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.

Bilt Labs Custom Orthotics

High arches, while aesthetically pleasing to some, can often lead to discomfort and even pain. The reason lies in biomechanics. With a high arch, the weight distribution across your foot is uneven, placing excessive pressure on your heel and the ball of your foot. This can lead to a variety of problems, including:


Pain: The constant strain on the limited contact points can cause heel pain, forefoot pain, and even pain radiating up your leg.


Fatigue: High arches can lead to early fatigue in your feet, making even simple tasks like walking uncomfortable.


Instability: The lack of natural shock absorption can lead to instability and an increased risk of injuries.


Here's where Bilt Labs custom orthotics come in. Unlike generic inserts that offer a one-size-fits-all approach, Bilt Labs orthotics are meticulously crafted to address the unique challenges of high arches:


Targeted Arch Support: Through a personalized fitting process, Bilt Labs podiatrists assess your specific arch height and pressure points. The orthotics are then designed with built-in arch support that bridges the gap and distributes weight more evenly across your entire foot. This reduces the strain on your heel and forefoot, alleviating pain and discomfort.


Enhanced Stability and Shock Absorption: Bilt Labs orthotics are crafted from high-quality, shock-absorbing materials. This, combined with the custom arch support, provides superior stability and cushioning. By absorbing impact with each step, the orthotics help reduce stress on your joints and muscles, minimizing fatigue and improving overall comfort.


Improved Gait Mechanics: High arches can sometimes lead to abnormal gait patterns. Bilt Labs orthotics can help correct these imbalances by promoting proper alignment and foot positioning. This not only reduces pain but also improves overall efficiency and reduces the risk of future injuries.


Whether you're a high-performance athlete seeking to prevent pain or someone who simply wants to walk comfortably throughout the day, Bilt Labs custom orthotics can be a game-changer for those with high arches. By offering targeted support, enhanced stability, and improved gait mechanics, they can help you step out of pain and rediscover the joy of movement. Remember, consulting a podiatrist is crucial to determine if custom orthotics are the right solution for your specific needs.

Bilt Labs Custom Orthotics

Conclusion

While high arches can be a structural aspect of your foot, they don't have to limit your mobility or cause discomfort. By exploring treatment options like custom orthotics, proper footwear, and stretching exercises, you can manage any pain and keep your feet happy and healthy. Remember, consulting a podiatrist is a crucial first step to discuss the best course of action for your unique needs. With the right approach, you can conquer those high arches and step out pain-free. Take our free quiz today to find out which orthotic type is best for your feet.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions about your health. If you have any questions about your health or are experiencing any medical problems, please contact your doctor or other healthcare provider immediately. Do not delay seeking medical attention based on the information provided in this article.