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Arch Pain

Arch pain is usually felt as a stabbing sensation in the arch region.  It can be felt in the distal (closest to the big toe) portion of the arch or slightly past the peak of the arch toward the heel.

Common Causes   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •

Arch pain is most often caused by strained ligaments or tendons.  If the pain is toward the distal portion of the arch (closer to the big toe), it may be related to the attachment of the plantar fascia, which is a major ligament supporting the arch. If the pain is closer to the heel and it feels like it is a little higher on the foot,  it may be the attachment of the tendon connecting to the Tibialis Anterior muscle which plays an important role in stabilizing the arch.  The intrinsic muscles in the arch region may also cause pain.   The most common reason for arch pain is hyperpronation (fallen arches and ankles rolling in).  Hyperpronation causes the heel to lean in, which typically causes increased tension on both the ligament and tendon attachments. 

People who have been wearing arch supports for any length of time may feel significant arch pain when they try to walk barefoot.  This is often due to the foot having lost its ability to support itself and to handle normal tension on ligaments and tendons.  To regain the ability to walk without arch supports and pain, the foot needs to be trained to regain strength.  

Arch pain can be caused by the ligament or tendon attachment or by  trigger points in the intrinsic muscles of the foot


How to eliminate the pain

Reducing hyperpronation and stabilizing the foot is usually the best approach to eliminating arch pain.  When you hyperpronate, the twisting motion of your foot causes the plantar fascia to be stretched, and the dropping arch causes more tension on the Tibialis Anterior tendon.

An arch support may temporarily reduce the pain by immobilizing the arch.  Keep in mind  that any part of the body that is immobilized (like wearing a cast) will weaken, and the muscles will atrophy, so an arch support should only be used  for short periods when initiating the healing process.