Artificial Arch Enemy

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Architectural arches are among the oldest and strongest structures designed by humans. While your foot arches resemble an architectural arch in shape, there are many differences in function. Your foot arches have the capacity to be mobile, acting as a spring. With each step, your arches absorb impact and create energy.

So, what does this mean for you? The arches in your feet are very important in everyday movement, however, most people don’t think about them until they start to hurt. Unfortunately, arch pain is often treated with artificial arch support. With chronic immobilization of any body part, tissue atrophies and muscles weaken. Prolonged arch support use causes your feet to lose plastic mobility to rebound and the muscles controlling/supporting the arch become feeble.

Initial and temporary use of arch support can occasionally be necessary, however, here are four reasons to avoid chronic arch support:

1.Artificial arch support weakens foot muscles.

If you don’t use it, you lose it. This saying holds true with your feet as well. The arches in your feet are meant to be worked hard and support the weight of your body. Unfortunately, if feet are artificially supported, they don’t perform as nature intended. The longer artificial arch support is used, the more the foot muscles atrophy.

2.Weakened muscles leave you more prone to injury.

Muscles are elastic tissue that connects to bones via tendons. Weak muscles leave joints prone to increased range of motion and stress. Prolonged use of arch support weakens your foot muscles and leaves them more susceptible to problems such as plantar fascia pain. If feet are not properly conditioned, any kind of stress on the feet will be magnified. In short, your artificial arch support used to treat foot pain is basically decreasing discomfort by preventing the use of your muscles, further weakening your feet and increasing susceptibility to injury.

3.Improper alignment and weight distribution.

When your feet are weak from prolonged use of artificial arch supports, the rest of your body must compensate for the job your feet aren’t doing. This added workload gets redistributed to your ankles, knees, back and hips, creating an unnecessary force that also affects proper alignment. When your foot muscles are strong, your body is better aligned and weight is proportionally balanced.

4.Negative affect on athletic performance and endurance.

Correct form is important for athletic performance. If your foot muscles cannot properly maintain your weight or movement, performance may suffer. You need your arches to act like a natural spring; arch mobility and strength contribute to your acceleration, balance, speed and strength. Artificial arch support restricts that spring-like function and acts like a cast. This lack of movement keeps your feet from working under their own natural power. These now weaker muscles lack stamina and tire at an accelerated rate. As an athlete trying to get faster or perform longer, your results are influenced by the strength of your foot.

Artificial arch supports prevent your foot muscles from flexing and strengthening properly. Let your feet engage those muscles and perform as they were intended. Click here if you’d like some tips on how you could strengthen your arch muscles.

12 thoughts on “Artificial Arch Enemy”

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  2. After reading Dr McClanahan’s work I’ve finally been brave enough to tackle my chronic PF with exercises and correctly fitting shoes. I’ve seen 4 different podiatrists in the last year and spent a fortune on orthotics which I’ve been wearing for over 14 years. Thanks to your information I have stopped wearing the orthotics altogether this week and so far am doing really well. Thank you so much.

  3. What about for heavy deadlifts and squats in the gym? Would you still recommend no arch support? I usually lift in an old pair of New Balance minimus trails and I feel a good connection to the floor. However, I’ve had some arch pain after heavier lifts so I was considering a pair stiffer lifting shoes with some arch support, though they all have more heel lift and a restrictive toe box, which I don’t like.

    1. We’d still recommend going barefoot or wearing natural foot shaped shoes in the gym, however it’s still important to transition slowly. As with other activities like running, your feet need time to adapt and strengthen so slowly transitioning is in your best interest.

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