Basic Foot Types
Reflexology for health

Edward Kaler, M.Sc., C.R.C., C.R.

Easthampton, Massachusetts

Nationally Certified Reflexologist

Nationally Certified Rehabilitation Counselor

REFLEXOLOGY & YOUR FEET
THERE ARE FOUR BASIC ARCH OR FOOT TYPES
THE PORTIONS OF THE GENERAL POPULATION
AND THE CATEGORIES THEY FALL IN
ARE LISTED BELOW:

DETERMINING FOOT ARCH

To determine the height of your arch follow the simple instructions below:
All that is needed is a paper shopping bag (or a type of heavy paper), water, and a shallow tray or pan, or a water spray bottle with a gentle spray.

  1. Pour a small amount of water in the shallow pan so that it just covers the entire surface.
  2. Next, slowly lower your foot onto the surface of the water so it just dampens the bottom of your foot.  Alternatively, use a water spray bottle with a fine spray to lightly spray the bottom of your foot.
  3. Step lightly onto the paper. Do not press your foot down hard or roll your foot side to side. The objective is to see how the bottom of your foot is shaped without being pressed down hard.
  4. Lastly, look at your foot print on the paper and then compare with the foot types.

BIOMECHANICS OF THE FEET

The human foot is a complex structure made up of 26 bones and 2 sesamoids, held together by soft tissue material - muscles, ligaments and tendons. The human foot was designed to walk on soft surfaces like earth and sand rather than today's hard and flat man-made surfaces. So, it's little surprise that with the average person taking 14,000 steps per day, damage often occurs to the soft tissue supportive structures of the feet.

Over time, soft tissues slowly become stretched and this loss of support causes abnormal foot function during walking or running. In turn, this leads to changes in the biomechanics of the ankles and further up the leg to the knees, hip, pelvis and spinal column.

Therefore, many knee, hip or back problems may be caused by abnormally functioning feet! Children as well as adults may experience similar problems due to abnormal bone or soft tissue development. Constant uneven stresses exerted on feet can also lead to those conditions listed. Wear and tear patterns on the soles of your shoes can reveal whether or not you have a potential problem.

ARCH OR FOOT TYPES


Normal Foot Type

This foot type is characterized by the appearance of the perfect arch contour. If you see about half of your arch then you are part of the most common classification for feet: a normal pronator (or neutral-pronator). Pronation means that when your heal hits the ground the foot rolls inward. When your arches roll inward, this pronation absorbs shock and therefore helps to prevent injuries.

However, the results of the wear and tear born of modern life, in addition to recreational activities, combine to build up stresses which Reflexology treatments are particularly designed to relieve.


Flat Foot Type

This foot type typically has no arch contour at all (excessive pronation), characterized by well developed muscles in the plantar area of the foot structure. Those with low arches are at an increased risk for knee cap pain, are particularly sensitive to overuse injuries such as stress fractures and tendonitis, and may be more susceptible to heel spur or plantar fasciitis. A micro-second after foot-strike, your arch collapses inward too much, resulting in excessive foot motion and increasing your risk of injuries. (Heel spur may also be a repetitive stress disorder due to fast walking or running.)

After the wet test and determining your arch, if you see almost your entire foot, then you are classified as having a flat foot and you are most likely over-pronating. Over-pronation means that after your heel strikes the ground your arches collapse too far inward. This can increase your risk of injury. The problem of pronation or 'flat feet' will not go away as you were most likely, born with it.


High Arch Foot Type

This foot type is characterized by a highly defined footprint with the least amount of foot on the ground, maybe just your toes, the ball and your heel. This means you have a narrow band connecting the forefoot and heel. If this is so then you are an under-pronator, also known as over-supinator. The affects of this can be too much shock traveling up your legs, since your arch doesn’t collapse enough to absorb the shock. Having stiff high arches does not allow for the foot to roll inward so it is not an efficient shock absorber. With a high arch a person will have more of a tendency towards supination.

Runners with high arches are at increased risk for suffering stress fractures, small cracks in the bones of their feet and lower legs. Additionally, high arch runners are prone to Achilles tendonitis, because they exert the same force as other runners when their feet hit the ground, but over a smaller surface area. Even experienced runners can also be prone to this since they have put a lot of wear and tear on their tendons over time.


Pronated Foot Type

This foot type is characterized by a minimum arch shape with heal bones angling inward, and the arch collapses due to ligamental laxity and the effects of gravity. As with flat feet those with low arches are at increased risk for knee cap pain, and may be more susceptible to heel spur. (Heel spur may also be a repetitive stress disorder due to fast walking or running.)

This foot type flattens the arch as the foot strikes the ground in order to absorb shock and to assist in balance during mid-stance. If habits develop, this action can lead to foot pain as well as knee pain, shin splints, achilles tendinitis, posterior tibial tendinitis, Piriformis syndrome, and plantar fasciitis. To pronate is to turn or rotate the foot inward so that the inner edge of the sole bears the body's weight. A pronated foot is one that rolls inward when walking or running and does not properly pass the weight over the foot.

This creates a biomechanical problem that stresses the foot and lower leg. The knee and hip are affected as well because of the inward rotation of the leg. The right way for the foot to land is to hit the ground heel first. Body weight is then passed along by the arch toward the outside of the foot and upward to the ball of the foot.

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