Though foot arch pain is common in athletes, it can happen to anyone, whether they love exercise or enjoy living life slowly. That's because the arches of the foot do a lot of work every day. They absorb the shock when you walk or run, and they bear your weight when you stand.
You may not notice the hard work your feet do -- until you get arch pain. Many things can cause it: injury, wearing the wrong kind of footwear, excessive walking, standing improperly, and more.
Being familiar with its causes and symptoms might help you prevent it. Or, if you're suffering from arch pain, learning about its treatment could help you prepare for a doctor's appointment.
What Is Arch Pain?
Arch pain is discomfort, inflammation, or tenderness in the arch of the foot. It can refer to any pain located between the ball of the foot and the heel.
To be able to identify this kind of foot pain, you need to understand the role of the arches of the foot.
The Arches of the Foot
If you've ever walked barefoot on damp sand, you probably know what the imprint of your foot looks like. The barefoot imprint of most adults has a gap on the inner side, between the ball of the foot and the heel. That's where the arches of the foot are. (Babies and toddlers don't have an arch. In fact, children develop an arch when they're 3 to 10 years old.)
Each foot has three arches: two longitudinal (across the length of the foot) and one transverse (across the width of the foot). The lateral longitudinal arch is on the outer side of the foot, and the medial one, on the inner side of the foot. The lateral arches act as pillars for the transverse arch.
Muscles, tendons, and ligaments make up the foot arches. Together they create a structure that supports your body weight when you stand, walk, or run. The arches act as shock absorbers, or springboards.
Here's how they work: The longitudinal arches flatten slightly when you stand or walk, under the load of your body. They return to their original, curve shape when you lift your foot from the ground -- when you remove the load. In a way, they function like a car's suspension.
Anything that affects the arches' position could cause discomfort and pain, and limit their function. The location of arch pain is usually in the medial longitudinal arch. But it can also be in the other two arches.
Symptoms: How Arch Pain Feels Like
Having painful feet can make it difficult to walk or exercise. Arch pain ranges in intensity from discomfort to sharp or burning pain. Its symptoms can manifest in many forms. Here's how people may describe how they feel:
• Sharp pain in the bottom of the foot
• Pain in the middle of the arch
• Pain in the ball of the foot
• Arch and ankle pain
• Tenderness in one point of the arch
• General tenderness in the foot
• Foot discomfort when standing for a long time
• Heel pain when running
• Feeling like you're walking on a pebble
• Pain at the top of the foot
• Pain when extending the foot
• Discomfort when flexing the arch
Some types of foot arch pain get worse with movement. Another type of pain is more severe in the morning and gets better during the day. The discomfort may be light and allow you to walk normally, but not run or cycle. Or, the pain can be so sharp that your heels hurt even when you stand. The intensity and type of arch pain depend on its cause.
Causes and Types of Arch Pain
Overuse, impact injuries, certain medical conditions, gaining weight, and weak feet can all cause arch pain. Even walking in improper shoes that make your arches work harder can be painful. It's no wonder that about 80 percent of people say they have experienced a foot ailment in their life.
Let's take a look at a few of the most common causes of arch pain in adults.
Plantar Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis)
The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs from heel to toes. Irritation and inflammation occur when the fascia stretches too much away from the heel. When this happens, you may develop plantar fasciitis. This condition leads to painful heels and arches. You may feel your foot is sore or tender under the heel or in the middle of the arch. You might also get swelling of the heel.
The severity of the pain ranges from very mild to incapacitating. Usually, the pain is worse in the morning when you get out of bed. Then, after you walk for a few minutes, the fascia stretches and the pain gets better.
One of the main causes of this kind of pain is having a faulty structure of the foot. If you have high arches or flat feet, you're more likely to develop plantar heel pain. Other things that put strain on the plantar fascia are wearing unsupportive shoes and being overweight.
If you leave this condition untreated, the pain may increase over a few months. It may limit your ability to do daily activities such as working or exercising. It might even lead to disability. After treatment, if the cause remains, you may need to continue with preventive measures (more about these later).
Flatfoot affects about 23 percent of adults, according to a study. If you have flatfoot, the longitudinal arch of the foot collapses (partially or totally). As a result, the foot sole touches the ground more than it would if you had a normal arch.
This disorder usually starts when you're a child or teen. It gets worse as you get older. There are several types of flatfoot, one of the most common being flexible flatfoot.
One of the symptoms is overpronation. If you overpronate, you put most of the weight on the inside edge of the foot. Your foot rolls too much inward, and this increases the strain on your arch and heel. Because the arches flatten too much, they can't properly absorb the shocks from your stride. The result may be arch pain or discomfort. You may also feel an ache in the heel and ankle.
As the body is out of alignment when you have flatfoot, you may also experience aches in your leg, knee, and hip.
There's no agreement on the cause of flexible flatfoot. Doctors have several theories about it. They believe it might be the result of muscular imbalance, obesity, or problems with foot ligaments. The disorder sometimes runs in the family. Many people are born with flatfoot, and others develop it later in life. The causes of this condition include tendon injuries, arthritis, muscular dystrophy, and certain neuropathies.
If you think you have arch pain from flatfoot, speak to a doctor. Treatment may help relieve the symptoms.
Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD)
PTTD can lead to flattening of the foot due to overuse or weakness of the posterior tibial tendon. But unlike flexible flatfoot, which can develop either in childhood or later, PTTD develops during adulthood. Many simple but repetitive activities (for example, walking, climbing stairs, or running) can cause PTTD. Its symptoms include arch pain and swelling in one foot or both feet.
Without treatment, the condition gets worse with time. It may even lead to arthritis in the ankle. In its early stages, PTTD can cause swelling and redness, as well as pain on the inside of the foot. Later, the pain may shift to the outside of the foot and the ankle.
If you notice your foot is excessively warm or swollen, contact a doctor as soon as possible. Early treatment may relieve arch pain and prevent complications from flatfoot.
Other Conditions That Can Cause Arch Pain
Apart from plantar fasciitis and flatfoot, many other conditions can make your arch hurt. Here are some examples:
• Peripheral neuropathies.When the foot's nerves don't function well -- due to compression, injury, or other causes -- you may get sharp pain or a burning sensation in the arches of the foot.
• Muscle spasms.Especially if you exercise, you've likely experienced muscle spasms or cramps. They can have many causes, ranging from dehydration to injury.
• Osteoarthritis.This disease usually affects the big toe joint, but it can also affect the arches of the foot. Osteoarthritis is common in older people.
• Foot sores.Many conditions (like lupus, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis) can cause foot sores that won't heal, and lead to arch pain.
• Stress fractures.The foot can suffer damage from repetitive overuse, for example, excessive exercise. Arch pain from a fracture usually gets worse with increasing activity.
• Ligament sprain.It happens when a foot ligament twists or stretches abnormally due to an unusual movement.
• Tendonitis.This is an inflammation of the tendons in the foot.
There are many possible causes of arch pain. So, you might not be able to identify yours on your own. Even if you do, seeking a medical professional's opinion is key to receiving an accurate diagnosis.
Common Treatments for Arch Pain
If the bottom of your foot hurts at the end of a busy day, or if you notice discomfort in your foot arch after exercise, some home remedies for arch pain might work:
• Rest -- to prevent further damage
• Apply an ice pack -- to reduce inflammation (pain and swelling)
• Wear shoes with good arch support -- to reduce stress on your arch
• Use textured insoles in your shoes -- to reduce foot fatigue and pain
• Consider taking over-the-counter medicines (such as ibuprofen) -- to ease pain and reduce inflammation
Oftentimes it's wise to seek medical assistance. Treatment for arch pain depends on its cause. If the culprit is plantar fasciitis or flatfoot, your doctor may prescribe a nonsurgical treatment. In some cases, surgery may be needed.
There's no doubt, however, that the best treatment for arch pain is prevention.
A New Approach to Prevent Arch Pain
There are many things you can do to prevent arch pain. Any personal trainer will tell you to stretch your foot and calves, and include resting periods in your workout routine. In addition, you need to focus on foot strengthening and stimulation.
There is a new approach to prevent arch pain that relies on the natural strength of the foot and nervous system. This approach may seem as quite simplistic to be effective: textured insoles. However, research has shown that using textured insoles can prevent arch pain, as well as having a number of other benefits.
The Problem With Footwear
The nerves on the bottom of your feet send sensory information like texture, temperature, and touch to your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), which uses this information to control your posture and balance. Essentially, it controls the way you stand, walk, and run by controlling your muscle response and dynamic stability.
Unfortunately, all kinds of footwear block some of this stimulation to some degree. As a result, there's a delay in the central nervous system and the way the foot stabilizes. This can affect movement and gait.
But shoes are a reality in our society, so what can you do?
Enter Naboso Technology
If your foot is in contact with textured insoles, you enjoy better postural control, improved stability, and reduced risk of injury.
When you walk or run, information on vibration and texture enters the foot as nervous stimulation. The brain uses this sensory feedback to maintain dynamic balance and prepare the right response to impact forces by controlling the foot's muscles. Essentially, the brain needs sensory stimulation to control how the foot arches absorb the shock from walking or running.
So, proper sensory stimulation of the plantar foot is necessary for intrinsic muscle strength and movement control.
But, as mentioned above, wearing shoes reduces this stimulation. If the nerves of your foot don't receive proper sensory feedback, your muscles cannot respond properly or timely to impact shocks. As a result, reduced foot stimulation weakens the foot and makes you prone to plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, or other injuries that can cause arch pain.
As you cannot walk barefoot all the time, you need an effective solution. Simply insert textured insoles into your everyday or training shoes to ensure your foot's nerves are stimulated. By enhancing proprioceptive stimulation, Naboso Technology insoles have immediate positive effects on the neuromuscular system.
How Textured Insoles Can Prevent Ovepronation and Arch Pain
Using textured insoles has another benefit in relation to foot arch health. Research has shown that increasing the sensory stimulation of the bottom of the foot could prevent excessive pronation. As foot pain and overpronation are connected, taking measures to avoid it may help prevent or reduce arch pain.
You can increase the sensory stimulation that the foot arch receives by wearing Naboso Technology insoles in your everyday shoes. This increased sensory stimulation decreases midfoot pronation during walking, reducing foot fatigue and preventing arch pain.
To sum up, Naboso Technology insoles have an important function in the control of overpronation, foot stabilization, muscle strength, and movement. And maintaining proper foot function and stimulation helps prevent and reduce arch pain.
The arches of your foot support you when you stand, walk, or run. They transfer your weight to the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons of the foot. Anything that puts too much pressure on your arches could cause arch pain. Doing excessive exercise, standing for many hours a day, having a condition that flattens the arch, and gaining weight can all lead to foot problems. Fractures, injuries, and other medical conditions can also cause pain in the foot arch.
Occasional arch pain or discomfort is common. In some cases the symptoms can go away with no treatment. Home remedies such as rest and ice might ease the pain. But other times you may need to seek medical help. Left untreated, arch pain can cause severe complications and may even result in disability. To prevent arch pain, avoid excessive strain, and wear shoes with arch support and textured insoles to make sure your foot's nerves receive proper stimulation.