The Link Between Arch Support and Good Posture

A medical professional holds an orthotic that provides arch support up to a patient's bare foot.

Posture, for better or worse, can have a dramatic effect on how the entire body functions. Making sure you have proper arch support for your feet can improve your posture and reduce your pain.

Living with constant pain isn't easy. Medications to treat chronic pain can be dangerous and addictive. Even alternative treatments such as massage and acupuncture get expensive very quickly. As a result, many people are looking for ways to ease their pain that are both safe and affordable.

As simple as it sounds, good arch support is often an important part of the solution. From athletic shoes to custom-made orthotics, all of these arch supports are designed to give your body the support it needs from the ground up. Although orthotics prescribed by your doctor can carry a hefty price tag (even when covered in part by insurance), there are many affordable options available over-the-counter.

To reap the benefits of aligning your body with arch supports, you first need to know what they are. You also need to understand how arch support can affect posture and how bad posture can cause pain. There are many types of arch supports on the market, which can seem overwhelming. But once you know what kind of arch you have, you can choose footwear or orthotics that fit your particular needs.

What is Arch Support?

arch support

You have most likely heard the term "arch support" tossed around over the years. Between ads for running shoes and ads for the latest insoles, everybody seems to be bragging about this nifty feature. However, many people still don't understand what arch support is.

The arch of the foot is the curved section between the ball of the foot and the heel. Arch support is exactly what it sounds like: It is support for the arched area of the foot. For each mile we walk, our feet can be forced to bear as much as 300,000 pounds of stress. It's pretty obvious, supporting the arch is vital. In fact, the arch is one of the most important structures of the human foot and not providing them with proper support can have painful consequences. The more time you spend on your feet, the more critical it is to pay attention to arch support.

Orthotics can correct a variety of problems such as gait abnormalities and balance difficulties. Plus, they can treat conditions such as pronation (when the foot turns inward). Proper arch support can also improve your posture, which can result in less pain and more function.

How Arch Support Affects Posture

arch support

Posture is the position of the body. We all grew up hearing our mothers tell us to stand up straight. We've always heard that good posture is important. But improving your posture is often easier said than done. For some people, maintaining good posture is a struggle. However, you can make your posture better by taking care of your feet.

Orthotics and proper arch support can correct the alignment of your foot and troubles with gait. They can also improve the alignment or your entire body, thereby encouraging good posture. If your feet aren't aligned, you can hardly expect the rest of your body to be aligned, which means you are destined for bad posture. Improving your posture by starting with your feet can help ease your pain and reduce the risk of future injury.

Posture and Pain

posture and pain

Poor posture can cause pain throughout the body. In particular, bad posture is often responsible for chronic back pain. Poor positioning places undue stress on the spine. Even just a few hours of sitting hunched over a computer can lead to sore back muscles. But over the long-term, the effects are even more dramatic. Eventually, the stress on your spine will lead to anatomical changes and may constrict nerves or blood vessels. Pain in the muscles, discs, and joints of the back are all the result of chronic bad posture.

If you suffer from back pain, the following symptoms could tip you off that posture is the cause of your discomfort:

  • The pain comes only at specific times of the day
  • Your pain lessens when you change position
  • The pain begins in your neck and creeps down your back
  • Your pain began when you started a new job or activity

With all of these negative effects on your body, it only makes sense to try improving your posture with arch supports, thereby reducing the pain you experience on a daily basis.

Types of Arch Supports

The first thing you need to do when looking at arch support is to determine what kind of arch you have. The type of arch support you need depends on the type of arch your foot has. Usually, arch support designs cater to those with either high arches or flat feet. However, those with normal arches can also benefit from good arch support to prevent problems before they start.

If you are suffering from serious pain, you should always visit your doctor. A professional podiatrist can examine your feet, and if he or she thinks arch support would help, they can prescribe custom-made orthotics. If you aren't ready to speak to a medical professional just yet, there are still many options for arch support available over-the-counter.

Figuring out what type of arch you have isn't as difficult as you might think. Just follow these three steps:

  1. Get your feet wet, literally
  2. Stand on a flat piece of paper or sidewalk where you will see the imprint of your wet feet
  3. Step away and examine the shape of your feet

If you can see the entire bottom of your foot, you have a low arch or flat feet. However, if you can only see your heel and toes, you have a high arch. If your foot is in between these two, where you can see the entire length of your foot but there is a gap missing on the inside of your footprint, your arch is normal.

High arch

high arch

If you have high arches, you may suffer from foot and back pain. Fixing the problem may be as easy as adding additional arch supports inside your shoes. People with high arches are prone to foot strain due to the excessive pressure their feet experience. Adding arch supports can relieve this pressure and keeps not only the feet properly aligned, but the entire body as well.

There are many varieties of orthotics on the market. Which one is right for you? The answer to that is simple: whichever one fits your foot and feels the most comfortable. Unfortunately, finding the right arch supports is sometimes a process of trial and error. But since many of the products sold over the counter aren't expensive, you can afford to experiment.

Flat feet

At the other end of the spectrum are people with low arches. They can experience pain as well. Flat feet can cause pain in the feet, legs, and back. The stress from having low arches may lead to pain in the knees and hips. Flat feet are often genetic, and while children can have flat feet, the condition can also develop later in life.

Flat feet really only need to be treated if they are causing discomfort. But if you are experiencing pain, an insole that provides arch support designed for flat feet may help. These orthotics relieve pressure and align the foot, which in turn aligns the rest of the body.

Normal arch

Also known as a medium arch, this type of arch is considered normal because it is the most common, with 60 percent of the population falling within this range. Even with a normal arch, things easily go wrong with the complex biomechanics of the foot. Arch support can relieve pain in the ball and heel of the foot. Providing proper support can not only ease the discomfort you already have, but it can also prevent future injuries.

Arch Supports: Improve Your Posture Today

If you are suffering from foot, leg, and back pain, arch supports just might be the answer you to your woes. By improving your posture and aligning your body from the ground up, you can feel better sooner rather than later. And you can do it without medications! You should always consult your doctor about any new or persistent pain. But if you have decided to try arch support to improve your posture and are looking at over-the-counter options, there is help available.

Dr. Scholls, one of the most respected names in foot care, now provides kiosks in many stores that make the process easier than ever. You simply stand on the automated mat and the computer measures the pressure points from your feet. The kiosk will then recommend which insoles will work best for your feet. However, if you prefer something more custom, there are kits you can order that allow you to make a mold of your foot. You then send the kit back, and they use the mold to create custom-fitted orthotics.

Don't suffer in silence any longer. Take matters into your own hands today so that you can get back to your life.

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Featured image: CC by 2.0, by Esther Max, via Flickr

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