The truth is it’s not about the height of your arch and everything to do with your foot function. Nothing is more important than our physical foundation.
From a young age I’d been told I’ll never be able to run properly because of my ‘flat feet’. Like many other runners I’d spent a lot of time and money on orthotics. Since discovering running TECHNIQUE (something Dr’s and Podiatrists I’d seen had neglected) I’ve ditched my orthotics and now run with no problems. In fact running has built a new level of skill and foot strength that allows me to enjoy barefoot running as a daily exhilarating experience that enhances my life in many ways.
The problem was not my flat feet, the real problem was:
- Weak feet and in particular a weak and poorly aligned great toe.
- Walking with a duck foot stance that created unwanted torsion and rotation. Instead my big toe should have been pointing straight ahead, in the direction of my movement so that my feet face forward, not at an angle outwards.
- Heal striking when running instead of a flat foot landing,
- Lack of elasticity and a poor perception of gravity.
Heel striking requires the body to roll over the foot during support time. This brings excessive loading of the foot for anyone, but in particular for ‘flat feet’ folk who actually have weak ankles (the cause of their flat feet).
With correct running technique loading is significantly reduced by having a shorter time of support, less leveraging and not using muscular efforts to push, instead it should be an effort to PULL your foot from the ground, not push. Correct technique and training the proper muscular activity of the feet, increases their functional strength and mobility, and eventually facilitates the healing process no matter what your foot shape is. It’s more a case of if you have ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ feet.
In a recent clinical study* using Kistler force platforms and lateral radiographs it was shown that there is no correlation between force peaks or load rate peaks with arch shape. Advances in technology just help us prove something Da Vinci knew a long time ago. In 1905 a study** of 800 people of different racial origins concluded that the height and shape of the arch are of no value in estimating the strength or usefulness of the foot, and that normal feet have high, medium and low arches in the same proportion as feet with painful arches. In 1947 a study*** of 3500+ canadian soldiers concluded that “it is evident that we can not be content merely to recognise the deformity of flat foot. Our concern is with function. If this is good it matters little whether the longitudinal arch is depressed”.
Fear of your feet is engrained by a global industry built on custom orthotics and stability controlled shoes. Landing correctly is just the start of a journey of movement freedom. The freedom of choice is all we have, trust in your natural engineering.
*Lees, A, Haynes A, Phillipson A, Klenerman, L. Shock absorption characteristics of the forefoot and it’s relationship to medial longitudinal arch height. Foot Ankle Int 2005; in press.
**Hoffmann P. Conclusions drawn from a comparitive study of feet of barefooted and shoe wearing peoples. Am J Orthopaed Surg. 1905; iii: 105-135
***Harris Rl, Beath T. Army Foot Survey. Vol I. Ottawa: National Research Council of Canada; 1947.