I was inspired for this blog post because I bought a pair of socks. Why would my new Fruit of the Loom Sport Crew socks inspire a post about arch support? I was disgusted to see a new feature of the socks: Arch support. What about socks could p
ossibly lead to support of the entire weight and control of your body? Nothing. However the marketing department at Fruit of the Loom has decided to jump on the band wagon of products that propose to aid your arches.
A commonly diagnosed problem is “low arches” “flat arches” or “pes planus”. This is the assumed cause of foot pain, back pain, knee pain, and other conditions in many individuals. The solution? Push it up with a piece of fabric, foam or plastic called an orthotic. The question is never asked “why has that arch fallen?”
Your foot is a series of arches (not just the one on the inside of your foot) that work as shock absorbers. This is done with the help of your lower leg, thigh, and hip muscles. The arches are supported like a marionette by muscles around the calf with tendons that run down under each arch like a sling to control it. Being small muscles they can only work well when put in the proper position. Muscles of the hip control the rotation and placement of the foot which allow proper contraction of the arch supporting muscles. Weakness, poor control, and tight areas can influence the middle arch to fall and the outside arch to tighten up. As a result, when the leg moves with walking, running, or jumping the middle arch drops more than necessary and changes the mechanics of the entire foot, knee, and hip.
Why has that arch fallen? It is NOT the lack of an orthotic. It is poor movement control of the hip, knee, ankle and foot. When people tell me they have poor arches they don”t need better shoes.
They need better arches. How do you achieve this?
- You need myofascial release methods to loosen the areas of muscle and ligament that have become restricted.
- You then need to re-examine the way you move (lift, run, jump) to re-establish your natural arch support.
When you attempt to mask the muscle tensions and poor movement patterns with an orthotic or different shoe you simply mask the problem and set up an environment to further weaken the situation. In my opinion, effective strength/conditioning programs with myofascial release methods are your most effective way to regain control of your arches.