Foot Pain and Arch Height

In general, we can classify our feet into three major categories based on the height of the arch.  These three categories are high arch, normal or neutral arch and low arch (which is also known as being flat footed).  Many of our readers will relate to this from either being in the clinic or from purchasing shoes at a specialty running store.  Most of these stores will try to match the foot type with the appropriate shoe.  This strategy is aimed to reduce the injuries that are incurred while running so that the shoe can offer the appropriate amount of support.  But do certain foot types experience more injuries than others?

arch pain final

A 2013 literature review published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy investigated the relationship between arch height (foot type) and lower extremity injuries.  They found that when compared to neutral feet, those with high arches and those with flat feet experienced a greater number of lower limb injuries.  I suppose this isn’t really earth-shattering information…it’s probably what most of us would have guessed.  That being said, it’s always nice to have good evidence supporting those things that we can easily assume as fact.

Incidentally for the practitioners out there, the authors of this paper also analyzed the various methods used by practitioners to classify foot types.  They found that x-rays and navicular height measurements are the best ways to identify those with high arches.  Low arches (flat feet) were best found using the relaxed calcaneal stance position and the navicular drop test.

So what does all this mean for our average reader?  It’s probably best to have a suitably trained health care practitioner assist you in classifying your feet.  That way you can select the appropriate shoe for your feet and help reduce the chance of injury in the lower limb.  From what we’ve learned today, this would likely be more important for those with either high or low arches, since they are more prone to injury.

Questions about this article?  Sore feet?  Give us a call, we can help!

By: Dr. Kevin McIntyre B.Kin., DC


Tong JWK, Kong PW.  Association between foot-type and lower extremity injuries: systematic literature review with meta-analysis.  Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy 2013; 43(10): 700-714.