Before Running, Know Your Arch Type

Before Running, Know Your Arch Type

What does your foot’s arch have to do with running shoes?

You must know your arch type before running because it will help you a lot.

 Every time your foot strikes the ground when you’re running, a force somewhere around three times your body weight must be absorbed somewhere in your body. Luckily, feet have arches. An intricate system of countless small bones, ligaments, and tendons, the arches of your feet are the part of your body most equipped to properly absorb the shock of running. Due to either genetic or developmental factors (but likely a combination of both), extreme variations in arch severity and structure are more prevalent than ever.

Not twenty years ago, it was nearly impossihble to buy running shoes that made the activity comfortable or safe for those with unusual or extreme arches. Because of this, many otherwise athletic people were kept from running. However, today the athletic footwear industry has dramatically diversified. Running shoes now exist for those with nearly every conceivable degree of arch severity. Many who once thought recreational running impossible must now familiarize themselves with their arches in order to take advantage of new kinds of shoes made just for them.

How can you know your arch type?

There are all kinds of technologically-based tests you can undergo to determine what kind of arch your feet are sporting. These tests produce extremely accurate, numerical measurements of a variety of your foot’s many small facets. However, they don’t come cheap, and the custom running shoes you’re expected to buy using the measurements they produce can be even pricier. Unless you’re extremely competitive or serious about running, these kinds of scans and readings simply aren’t worth it.

The easiest method to tell if you have flat, regular, or high arches is completely free and you almost definitely have all the equipment for. It’s called the “wet test.” Considering the ease of its administration, the results are surprisingly conclusive.

How to administer the “wet test”:

Begin by pouring a small amount of water onto a flat waterproof surface (such as a baking pan or linoleum floor). There should be just enough water to prevent keep from splitting apart into separate smaller pools.

Taking care not to splash excess water onto your feet, wet the bottom of one foot. Roll the foot to the left and right, frontwards and backward to ensure that the entire sole is moistened.

Place a piece of construction paper, a paper grocery bag, or a slab of cardboard on the ground. With your wet foot, step naturally on the paper surface as you would when walking. Follow through with your stride and continue walking forward and off of the paper.

This should’ve left a neat outline of your footprint on the paper. Repeat the process if you suspect there’s was any dripping, splashing, or seeping of water involved forming making the footprint.

Examining your footprint:

 You have high arches if the heel and ball of the foot are present but connected by a line that grows increasingly thin at the foot’s midsection, and may even disappear at one point.

You have low (or no) arches if your footprint seems to depict the entire width of your soles. Where the others’ footprints narrow, curve inward or disappear on the inside of the feet, those with high arches will see a semi-straight line. In extreme cases, the inside of the foot may even curve slightly outward

You have medium (normal) arches if you lie somewhere between these two descriptions. A good indicator is if the narrowest point on the footprint is roughly half the width of the widest point.

And now that you know your arch type…

… You can take that information or a photo of the footprint to a local sporting goods store and talk to a professional about what kinds of shoes best suit you, which will most likely be some minimalist running shoes.


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