An arch support is a device that is used to brace the bottom of the foot and hold up the foot arch. The devices are usually made of a flexible plastic compound that is specially molded to give rigid support to the foot. Custom made varieties can be made to fit particular individuals and this is done using a special procedure that involves casting of the foot.
The generic versions of arch supports can be purchased easily and they come in varied sizes and shapes to suit all foot types. They offer a considerable cost advantage over custom arch supports and orthotic insoles, and in most cases can provide the correct level of support.
Arch supports are designed to be worn with shoes, although new models can be worn with flip flops or sandals, and arch support socks can be worn when barefoot. Many shoes offer good arch support, with an insole sculpted and contoured to hold up the arches. Many flip-flops and sandals now offer this supportive design, with standard flip-flops usually lacking any form arch support, one of the reasons why there are many foot problems from wearing this type of footwear.
When would you need an arch support?
Usually people who have low foot arches and flat feet are more susceptible to foot problems and they are the most likely candidates for arch support devices. When the feet are flat, the arch cannot deal with the stresses and shocks from walking and running and bottoms out, causing jarring forces. Those who suffer from excessive pronation (where the foot rolls inward when walking) often suffer from aching and discomfort, and using an arch support offers much needed relief.
People with high arches also greatly benefit from arch supports to aid foot function and to ease the pressure exerted on the ball of the foot and the metatarsals. High arches can lead to many painful foot complaints such as sesamoiditis, and place a greater stress on the metatarsals. High arches are often associated with supination; a lack of flexibility in the feet. Arch supports for high arches can help the feet to deal with shockwaves more effectively.
Hard or Soft Arch Supports
The materials used to make arch supports range from soft to relatively hard. The type of material determines the texture of the device as well as the amount of support that it provides. The harder varieties often have a greater ability to provide support in comparison to the softer types, and are used more frequently for high impact activities, or when a higher degree of correction is required.
Best Arch Supports
The best arch supports are often a matter of personal preference; however high quality brands such as Superfeet, Sorbothane, Aetrex and Orthaheel are all good choices. They offer a high quality construction which ensures continuing support, usually for up to 12 months. Each of these brands has a large range with many models to choose from to give more of a personal fit, with each tailored for different shoe types and activities. Arch supporting insoles suitable for sesamoiditis feature a metatarsal pad or bar, which eases the pressure on the sesamoid bones by lifting up the metatarsals and reducing the force acting on the base of the big toe during the toe off phase of the gait cycle.
If you think that you need to wear arch supports or orthotic insoles, or they have been recommended by a physician, we recommend buying from a reputable online supplier.