In a recent study in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers discovered that certain foot characteristics can increase your risk of injury.
“With high or low arches, your foot doesn’t absorb shock very well,” says Kenton Kaufman, PhD, study author and director of the Mayo Clinic. Every time your foot hits the ground, mini-shock waves go up your leg, which can lead to stress fractures.
Here’s how to find out if you’re at risk, and what you can do to help prevent problems.
Get your feet wet. Dip your bare feet in a pan of water, and make a clear imprint on a piece of brown paper or concrete. Then match your footprint to the ones described below.
What to do: Buy walking shoes specifically designed for your type of arch. Over-the-counter arch supports may also help. If you still experience pain or stress fractures, see a podiatrist. You might need custom-fit orthotics.
Normal Feet: normal-size arch; imprint is flared, with forefoot and heel connected by a wide band on the outside. A normal foot lands on the outside of the heel, then rolls inward (pronates) slightly to absorb shock.
Flat Feet: low arch; leaves an imprint that looks like the whole sole of the foot. A flat foot strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls inward excessively; over time this can lead to injury.
High-arched Feet: imprint has a very narrow (if any) band connecting forefoot and heel. This type of foot usually doesn’t pronate enough and isn’t good at absorbing shock.
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