Of course, your feet ligaments, tendons, joints and muscles work seamlessly to provide you with your God-given means of transport. However, it is safe to say that the arches are arguably the most important feature of the feet. To imagine that each arch bears up to 300,000 lbs of pure stress with each mile, only goes to justify this claim further.
To put this in better perspective, arches basically absorb the pressure exerted by our body’s weight, with every step. However, you are likely aware of the fact arches vary significantly and what you call an arch may not look anything like that of your parent’s for instance. It is worth noting that a person’s arch may change with age due to wear and tear from the continuous weight pressure while walking. If every step you’ve taken in your life was worth a penny, you would be a consistent feature on Forbes List.
Best Shoes For Arch Support Comparison
In short, your arch may finally cave in and collapse, meaning if not careful; you could just end up with a low arch –commonly referred to as flat feet disorder – among a plethora of related health problems. It is therefore of paramount importance to keep your arches well catered for while you still can, in order to enhance longevity – just like any machine. To break it down for you, your feet should lie in one of these three arch categories.
Types of Arches:
Before delving on the basics, it is worth mentioning that you need not panic regardless of your type of arches. Both arch disorders have a solution – it is in the shoes you wear. Years back, it was hard to even imagine someone with flat feet joining the military – due to training difficulties. However, arch support, orthotics and customized shoes have changed all that and it isn’t farfetched to find a flat footer beating you in practice.
We will look at the best shoes for arch support in a few. Meanwhile, here are the different types of arches to help you figure where you lie and the course of action to take – if need be. Fortunately, technology has now made it possible to know your foot type from the comfort of your location. By simply taking iSteps or imprints scans using your Smartphone, you can now be able to view your entire foot in detail complete with related info.
a.) Low Arches (Flat Feet) –
The thought of having flat feet disorder is certainly a little scary for most. However, there is no need to sweat it. Approximately 30% of the world’s population has flat feet, meaning you are definitely not alone. Low arches tend to be overly flexible and this is where the problem is. Due to the fallen arch, the feet will roll inwards in shoes and in the process, causing pronation and regular pain on the ankles, back, feet and heels among the following conditions.
- Plantar Fasciitis – the fascia is a complicated connective tissue tasked with separating, and protecting the feet’s structures besides keeping them in place. Think of it as a specialized adhesive that originates right from the heel bone to the ball of the foot. When one suffers from Plantar Fasciitis, it means that the essential ligament has been ruptured due to continuous pressure while walking or running. Your safest bet lies in investing in the best shoes for arch support to reduce the chances of the arch collapsing and causing Plantar Fasciitis.
- Shin Splints – this refers to the pain experienced in the fascia and lower leg due to continuous pressure exerted on the ligament in between walks and jogs. This is a common problem among most flat-footed individuals and it happens when the arch caves in, thus overpowering the muscles along the lower leg causing uneven distribution of weight in the process. Again, only arch support can reduce your chances of shin splints.
- Metatarsalgia – this refers to the burning pain experienced around the ball of the feet caused by consistent trauma to the metatarsal heads. It is a common problem among women who regularly wearing high heels, without knowledge of their long metatarsal bone. In a nutshell, most fashionable shoes designed for women lack enough support around the arch area or sufficient padding around the toe box. The result is always a painful and inflamed metatarsal – metatarsalgia. All you need combat this occurrence is arch support.
- Over-pronation – low-arched individuals tend to over-pronate – a term used to refer to when the foot drifts inwards while walking. When this happens, your hips and knees are forced out of their natural alignment, which means additional pressure and pain to the affected body parts.
Generally speaking, flat footed individuals find it a little harder to get comfortable shoes, exercise with ease and find the perfect gait. The common solution to all these problems – as you may have already gathered by now – is investing in the best shoes for arch support, period!
b.) Medium/Neutral Arches –
Approximately 60% of mankind have neutral arches – the normal curves on the foot – and being this is how they should be in the first place, means you are safe from most feet-related problems; at least for now that is. As it is often said, prevention is better than cure and it would be in your best interest to prevent your arches from collapsing due to the continuous exertion of body weight pressure. This means investing in shoes with extra support features, cushioning, and shock absorption technology. In a nutshell, the right footwear can go a long way in helping you prevent a collapsed arch, injuries, besides enhancing proper gait or body alignment in basic terms.
c.) High Arches –
Approximately 10 to 20% of entire mankind has high arches. These types of arches tend to be rigid and can be identified by looking at your footprint on sand or cardboard after emerging from water. It leaves a skinny strip from the heel to the ball of the feet. While high arched individuals aren’t at much risk of injuries compared to flat footed counterparts, the condition can lead to a number of health-related issues such as under-pronation, which refers to when the foot rolls far outwards. Such people require shoes with arch support features to compensate for the lost ground besides, of course, offering support.
Now that you know where you lie, it would certainly be in your best interest to act fast so as to lead a healthier lifestyle and pain-free life while at it. As you may have already gathered, the common factor in all three conditions is the fact that investing in the best shoes for arch support is inevitable. Whether it’s for preventive measures or combating the symptoms pegged to arch-related problems, finding shoes with arch support won’t hurt – literally speaking. The million-dollar question therefore remains, how then do can you identify the best shoes with essential arch support features? Well, let’s have a look.
How to Pinpoint the Best Shoes for Arch Support:
It is often said that people suffer from lack of knowledge and in this context, individuals suffering from chronic feet, joints and back pain could highly benefit from simply using arch support. In basic terms, arch support is the inclusion of artificial, temporary arch-like pads, inside shoes. The much-needed support system, works at reducing pain, enhancing comfort and preventing low arches – if you don’t have flat feet.
As human beings, walking is certainly an integral part of our lives and therefore a necessary evil of some sorts. Because we have to walk, feet problems are bound to appear at the latter stages in life as a result of continuous pressure exerted on the feet. The most common foot disorder to surface with age is flat feet and the only way to prevent it from occurring is getting acquainted to arch supported shoes – if you haven’t already. That said; let’s now have a look at how to identify shoes with arch support and the benefits involved.
#1. Enhanced Balance and Support:
Arch supports are categorically designed to enhance your gait and balance for individuals with low or high arches. It is easy to tell whether or not a shoe entails the required support features by simply wearing it and walking around the store. If it is well padded all the way up to the ankles and has a rigid heel, chances are it is the right shoe to invest in. When walking around, check whether your posture is improved and with time, you should notice reduced foot or back pain problems. Those with flat feet should feel right at home in shoes with arch support features – if it doesn’t feel right from the get go, it’s not worth the hassle.
#2. Sturdy Base and Foundation:
The constant back pains or never ending knee problems likely emanate from having fallen arches. The simple fact that your foot can no longer support and evenly distribute your body weight effectively means you have a crummy foundation that needs support. Therefore, a shoe without a sturdy base translates to more problems in the long-run. The best shoes for arch support come packing sturdy bases to compensate for your crummy base.
Try twisting the shoe in an upward direction and it folds all the way up to the middle, it is clearly not the right shoe for your condition. However, if the shoe folds slightly around the toe area, this is a clear indication of proper support features. Worth noting is, while the shoe requires to be rigid, this doesn’t necessarily translate to reduced comfort. Indeed, any shoe regardless of whether or not it packs arch supports has to be comfortable.
#3. Immediate Impact:
The main purpose of arch support is to mitigate the symptoms of low or high arch disorders. If the shoe doesn’t achieve this from the start; no matter how little, you are better of finding another pair than wasting your hard-earned money. What’s the point of investing in shoes you will always feel uncomfortable in? The symptoms pegged to flat feet or high arches are indeed quite painful. Any shoe that mitigates these effects and fits properly is worth your investment. You will notice that such shoes are labeled “Added Support.” These are undoubtedly the best shoes for arch support.
Comprehensive Guide to Buying the Best Shoes for Arch Support:
If you are flat footed or perhaps have high arches, you are probably aware of how hard it can be finding the right shoes. You either find a fashionable pair you like, but lacks enough support features, or perhaps, comfortable shoes with an ugly design. Well, the bottom line here is that shoes with arch support are significantly rare and below, are some essential tips to help you out in your quest for finding the perfect shoes.
#1. Where to Look:
According to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, it is highly advisable to buy shoes from well established specialty stores if you are flat footed or have high arches. Here, you will find experienced and knowledgeable sales people to help you find the perfect fit.
It is worth remembering that arches come in different sizes, meaning what is adequate arch support for one individual may not be sufficient enough for the next. If you’ve just realized that you need shoes with arch support for some reason, your first shoe investment should be at a specialty store. Once you’ve learned the ropes on the ideal shoe size, brand and arch support features, you can always buy the next pair elsewhere.
#2. Walking vs. Running Shoes:
Most people with feet disorders tend to make the common mistake of buying a pair of runners for walking purposes – a huge mistake. To break it down, runners and aerobic shoes are designed differently. In essence, these shoes are crafted to cushion the feet from high-impact surfaces or exercises and hence, more cushioned around the foot’s ball rather than the heels or mid foot area.
In order to prevent your feet from over-pronation, the main idea is to find shoes with rigid heels, alongside sufficient cushioning around the mid foot to cater for the drifting heel-to-toe movement while walking. If you are simply looking for comfortable walking shoes for daily use, be sure to steer off runners or aerobics.
#3. Compare and Research Widely:
When looking for the best shoes with arch support features, it would be in your best interest to begin by spending quality time on research. While out shopping for any product, most of us tend to grab the first item we come across or handed by the sales rep. This shouldn’t be the case, more so as a flat footed person looking for some relief. This is similar to taking medicine meant for another disease or in simpler terms, gambling with your health. Before heading out, check out a handful of brands from sites like Amazon, prior to reading the reviews.
Brands such as New Balance, Asics and Brooks have great walking shoes with sufficient arch support. Also, try out a number of footwear before settling for one – regardless of how comfortable the first one may seem. Keep off bias salespeople advising you to invest in a particular brand or model even when it doesn’t seem to match your preference. Remember, it is the wearer of the shoe who knows where it pinches.
#4. The Cost Factor:
Similar to any product, the cost of walking shoes with arch support should obviously rank high in your list of priorities. You clearly don’t want splurging hefty amounts of money on pair of shoes you will feel uncomfortable in down the line, or perhaps, shoes you won’t be using that often. As far as quality shoes with arch support is concerned, investing in models is a gamble meaning you have to be certain about their feel, comfort levels, arch support and additional technologies. On the flipside, going for arch supported kicks way can likely be an indicator of inferior build or quality. The rule-of-thumb here is to stick to reputable brands made from high quality material.
#5. Additional Tips:
On the contrary, uncomfortable shoes never become comfortable with time. This is a common misconception among flat footed individuals seeking for the perfect fit. If it’s not comfortable from the very start, chances are it is designed to remain that way. Conversely, you may realize after a while that the comfortable shoe you wore while shopping for walking shoes with arch support isn’t as comfortable as you had expected – a costly affair to say the least considering. To avoid such occurrences, it would be in your best interest to inquire about the store’s exchange policy and whether you can return a shoe in exchange for another model or brand.
Another important tip is to always know your type of arch, way before heading to the store so as to narrow down the options you have. In short, try finding out your type of arch, the size and whether your flat foot disorder is mild or serious – for those suffering from the condition. The easiest way to find out where you are categorized is by dipping your feet in water, prior to stepping on a brown grocery bag or cardboard. If the print reveals most part of your foot, chances are you have a low arch that needs some attention. On the other hand, if your foot print only reveals a slim part of your feet; from the heels to the ball of your foot, you likely have a high arch and of course, require specialized shoes with arch support to avoid problems.
The bottom line is, shoes with arch support are highly essential regardless of whether you have a low, neutral or high arch. For the first and last conditions, wearing standard shoes can lead to unwanted health problems. Moreover, be sure to start making regular trips to a podiatrist in order to mitigate the symptoms pegged to the disorders. Only a professional can help you come up with viable solutions for dealing with the pain. When out shopping for the best shoes for arch support, going with a recommendation from your podiatrist can go a long way in making it a less-daunting affair. Good luck in your quest.