Arch Types: A Brief Guide

You walk on your feet every day. However, it’s probably been a while since you considered those same feet. One of the defining characteristics of your foot is the arch, and your arch can determine how prone you are to various medical conditions. You can examine your feet, ask your doctor, or use a machine to determine your arch type.


Low arches also refer to what is commonly called flat-footedness. If your arches are low, your foot tends to be more flexible. While this sounds like a good thing, it can lead to complications. This flexibility in your foot means your foot and ankle tend to roll inward. Your feet may also absorb the shock of walking differently, which can lead to pain in different areas of your feet.

People with low arches can get injuries such as tendonitis, knee pain, heel spurs, bunions, and other over-pronation related issues. You should seek medical attention for ongoing symptoms.


A medium arch is considered normal for humans. If you have medium arches, your foot works well mechanically. However, you can still get random areas of pain. Often, these are more a result of how you move than any specific imbalance. Additionally, people with medium arches like you can still suffer if they end up in improperly fitted footwear for their arch type.

People with medium arches are susceptible to typical foot problems such as heel pain and stress injuries. You should seek medical attention for ongoing symptoms.


High arches are exceedingly well defined. Unfortunately, your foot tends to be more rigid than other arch types. This rigidity can cause you pain. Additionally, your foot has less surface area to absorb the shock of walking. This distribution can result in heel, ball, or both pain for you. Fortunately, once you recognize you have high arches, you can take steps to mitigate the effects.

People with high arches may get heel pain, claw toes, ball pain, inappropriate callusing, and more. You should seek medical attention for ongoing symptoms.

Why Arch Type Matters

Arch types, along with other measures, show what kinds of foot and ankle problems you may encounter throughout the course of your life. Your regular doctor can conduct an evaluation and may refer you to a foot and ankle specialist. Your medical team can then help you mitigate your odds of specific conditions through measures like arch supports, proper footwear, and other preventative treatments.

You can also use the knowledge of your arch type. For example, knowing you have a low arch may influence you to buy sandals with some built-in support rather than relying on flip flops. If you know you have high arches, you may choose to wear orthotics whenever possible so your arch does not hurt. Additionally, you may recognize activities of higher risk, and moderate your participation. Overall, you can use your arch support knowledge to decrease your pain and other risk factors.

This article is meant to be informational and is not a substitute for your medical team. Please seek medical help for any ongoing symptoms.

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