How Many Arches Are In My Feet? Anatomy of Custom Orthotics.

You’ve read many times or have been told to “Get good support” for your arches. Even articles you’ve read or advice you’ve received from medical professionals, family, friends, neighbors or even a shoe sales person saying, “Support your arch, build up your arch.”  They all suggest paying attention to the inside arch of your foot.  But what does that mean?   When I hear that suggestion I think, “Which arch?”  As they usually mean support for the inside of your foot, your arch.   I say, “You are missing the other arches of the foot.”

There are many arches in your feet that need “Support.”   At ArchMasters, we believe in supporting all of your arches, not just the medialor inside arch.  We also believe in more than support, we believe ideal function of each arch is important as well.  After all, your arches affect the motion of your foot bones and thus the motion of your leg and so on up the body.
Let me further explain:  the medial arch consists of multiple bones that can collapse at different areas for various reasons.  However, there are other arches that can also collapse.  There are actually up to five arches in your feet. 
  • There is the medial or inside arch. 
  • Two arches are represented in the lateral arch or outside of the bottom of your foot, one about the heel bone and the cuboid ( a bone between the heel and the metatarsals, and one that supports the cuboid and the 5th metatarsal (the long bone before your little toe). 
  • The transverse arch is across the ball of your foot.
  • Finally, there is a triplane arch.  This is an arch that goes obliquely across the bottom of the foot from the cuboid to the base of the 1st metatarsal (the long bone before your big toe).  This triplane arch follows the contour of a long tendon called the peroneal longus tendon.  If this arch collapses, the peroneal longus tendon cannot function properly and many times this causes the big toe joint to jam or be unable to bend when it needs to.  This can lead to conditions such as hallux limitus and hallux rigidus.  Both are degenerative arthritis of the big toe joint, which can then lead to chronic low back pain.
 All of these arches are functionally interconnected.  Control of one will usually affect the control of another to some degree or another.  Sometimes for the good and sometimes, the not so good.
A true custom molded casted prescription orthotic should not only control, but also support all of these arches.
  • This orthotic will usually have five supporting and or controlling features, plus a cover, all of which affect all of the arches.
  • The heel cup helps control motion of the heel.  The deeper it is the more rigid the device becomes.  It can also contain stabilizing posts, wedges or bevels and lifts.  All affect the foot in one way or another.
  • The walls of the orthotic, either medial or lateral, will affect the rigidity of the device as well as affect the allowed motion of the medial or lateral arches.
  • The inside arch can control a lot of motion, but not always.  It can also have padding that affects motion as well.
  • The transverse arch can be contoured for support either rigidly or with soft materials, or even have wedges in it as well.  This not only affects the pressure and function of the ball or your foot but also it can affect the other arches and leg motions.
  • Top covers on orthotics will not only affect the fit in the shoes but also affect motion.  The thicker and softer the top cover, the more motion one will get and less motion control.  Additional paddings can be added to the top cover about the balls of the feet to reduce pressure on certain areas.
So if you’ve been told to get some buildup or arch support, know you really need a truly experienced professional who will support all of the arches, not just one.  Because now you know there are many variables in the structures of a foot orthotic and all of them can affect the foot function in one way or another.
At ArchMasters, you will not just receive an “Arch Support” you will receive a complete evaluation to determine how much of the areas of your foot need control.
Stopby ArchMasters today or call 615-370-3000 for your complimentary consultation with Dr. Sables to determine your needs.   ArchMasters- Orthotics, Shoes & Footcare.  Shoes, orthotics and a whole lot more!
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