Today we’re going to talk about the arches of the foot.
We often hear mainly about the medial longitudinal arch. This is traditionally what is referred to when people are talking about the arch of their foot.
But what is less well known is that we actually have two other arches, we have this lateral arch here, and we have this transverse arch that runs through the front of the foot here. Now, they are all equally as important as each other and they work together to provide structure of the foot. Because the medial arch is the highest of all of the arches, it is the one that generally does the most work in stabilizing the foot. And so the muscles, tendons and ligaments that are associated with the medial arch tend to get the predominant amount of work and load.
However, for forefoot type problems, the transverse arch is very important. The transverse arch dictates how much load and how much weight go on each of these metatarsels. These are like the knuckles of the forefoot and they are affected in a lot of different ways and are equally as important as the heel, particularly as the heel lifts, and we transfer our body weight through this part of the foot. So the design of the foot is such that the first metatarsal here is nice and thick and stable and it has these two little sesamoid bones here which help disperse weight and load.
The other metatarsals aren’t as big, aren’t as strong and don’t have the sesamoids. However, if this metatarsal is dorsiflex or put out of the way, then these other metatarsals have to deal with most of the load. This is a situation that happens with HAV or bunion deformities, or sometimes just the actual makeup of the foot. And it is the combination of these three different arches that will go together to give you what would maybe be referred to as a pronated or flat foot or a supinated or a high arched foot. The problem with this is that the actual shape of your foot does not correlate directly with how it functions.
So as you can see, there’s more than just one simple arch profile that needs to be taken into account. And that is to be thought about when you go to the pharmacy perhaps to get a bespoke off the counter insole. Your feet are not off the counter feet. They are unique to you and therefore require unique support in all the three different arches.