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  • Arch Support?

    I've had a couple conversations with people about shoes - I like to go barefoot or wear pretty flat shoes most of the time. And I always get the same comment "I don't know how you wear those, they don't have any arch support."

    How big of a deal is arch support, if we were meant to walk around barefoot, then arch support should be a non-existent issue.

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but any info would be helpful.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    My feeling is that the more we strengthen our feet by being unsupported/barefoot, the less we need any arch support. The more we use arch supports, the more we need them. Should just make that transition back to strong feet slowly and carefully to avoid injuring your feet that have not had to hold themselves up for a long time. If you are transitioning to barefoot running for example, the guidance is that your soles will toughen more quickly than your feet will strengthen. Take your time.

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    • #3
      arch support is not important at all. in fact, shoes with a lot of support and technology are the cause of injuries; they're unnatural. when i'm in my vibrams or some other minimalist shoe--or barefoot--and i get that comment from people, i remind them that i was not born with shoes on my feet, and that shoes are basically a luxury. i've only met one person who could not grasp the idea of going natural in less than a couple of minutes...and that person had all kinds of foot problems.
      mark has a few good posts on going barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes that you can search for, but if you really want the information behind being barefoot, check out the book "born to run"
      http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread60178.html

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      • #4
        There's more to the arch support story than support=bad

        If you are someone with naturally flexible arches, you need to make sure that if you are wearing shoes without arch support that they are as close to the ground as possible.

        If you have big, "cushioned" CW shoes, but also forgo arch support, then you are going to do yourself damage. The flexing of the foot within the shoe and the excess cushion giving way leads to movement that ends up straining your body. E.g. the bottom of your foot flexes too much (plantar fasciitis) your Achilles tendon moves too much laterally, or your heel moves past the toes downwards (Achilles tendonitis), your lower leg bones rotate more (shin splints) etc. If you have unsupported shoes that are nice and close to the ground and allow for a natural movement pattern, then do not have to worry.

        I hope that makes sense.
        Last edited by lcme; 12-14-2010, 01:03 PM.

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        • #5
          Arch support is actually really bad for you. The arch is basically the foundation of your body. It can support a ton of pressure/weight on top of it. That being said the bottom of the arch is actually quite "weak". When you wear arch supports all the pressure thats supposed to go on top of the arch is put on the bottom of the foot, this is because the soles in the shoes press up against the bottom of your arch. If you look at the feet of people who have never worn shoes before the bottom of their arch rarely ever touches the ground. Because of this after you walk for while in shoes with arch support your feet hurt like crazy (Trust me, I know) and eventually your arch gets weak and starts to flatten.

          Arch support is just another CW thing that makes no sense at all yet tons of people believe in it. If you have flat feet, any knee/leg injures, or have difficultly balancing on you need to start walking barefoot to strengthen your arch and NOT use arch support.
          Without music life would be a mistake.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Someguy View Post
            Arch support is actually really bad for you. The arch is basically the foundation of your body. It can support a ton of pressure/weight on top of it. That being said the bottom of the arch is actually quite "weak". When you wear arch supports all the pressure thats supposed to go on top of the arch is put on the bottom of the foot, this is because the soles in the shoes press up against the bottom of your arch. If you look at the feet of people who have never worn shoes before the bottom of their arch rarely ever touches the ground. Because of this after you walk for while in shoes with arch support your feet hurt like crazy (Trust me, I know) and eventually your arch gets weak and starts to flatten.

            Arch support is just another CW thing that makes no sense at all yet tons of people believe in it. If you have flat feet, any knee/leg injures, or have difficultly balancing on you need to start walking barefoot to strengthen your arch and NOT use arch support.
            I fully agree and have the strengthened arches to prove it. Bunions mean I must be intentional in how I walk, but I'm arch support free AND nearly pain free.
            Started PB late 2008, lost 50 lbs by late 2009. Have been plateaued, but that thing may just be biting the dust: more on that later.

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            • #7
              After several months of wearing minimalist footwear (almost exclusively the last 2 months) I have an arch on my right foot again after 20 years. And my PF is gone in my left foot. Whenever I wear traditional shoes I am usually in pain the next day so I am a definite believer in minimalist footwear. I either go barefoot, wear Vibram 5 fingers or my new winter shoes, Soft Star Shoes, made in Oregon.

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              • #8
                I have always had painful arches and heels......almost all shoes hurt my feet when worn longer then an hour or two. I was always told I needed extra arch support, and while I tried that, used inserts, etc, the problems always persisted.

                The only thing that has helped has been going to minimalist shoes (VFF's) and then strengthening my arch by exercising it. It took me about 8-10 weeks of slow increments, sore feet, stretching, massages, and persistence, but I FINALLY can walk in almost any shoe for an extended period with no pain, arch support or not. Keep in mind, I was barefoot a lot around the house for years, but that wasn't enough. I hiked, walked, crossfitted, everything in my VFF's and THAT is what ended up creating my now 'in shape' feet.

                So for me, arch support = weak feet.
                Erin
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                • #9
                  Recently someone commented on my wearing of minimalist barefoot sandals on a cub scout hike, that he could never do that due to his flat feet. I wondered out loud if it were a chicken vs. egg situation - if his flat feet were the result of wearing shoes all his life, or actually genetic. Can flat feet be cured by strengthening feet through barefooting? Aside, I have very high arches due to orthotic inserts worn during my early childhood (Germany, early 70's). My son has flat feet but nobody in the pediatric community has even batted an eye at them.

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                  • #10
                    the only time i ever worried about "support" was in college marching band. my feet hurt most of the season, & only recently have i realized that that was probably because of the "supportive" footwear i was wearing. i would have been better off wearing the cheap canvas shoes i usually do. now i wear exclusively flat shoes, & only rarely do my feet hurt.
                    And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the wind longs to play with your hair
                    Kahlil Gibran

                    http://simplesunshine.wordpress.com

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by lcme View Post
                      There's more to the arch support story than support=bad

                      If you are someone with naturally flexible arches, you need to make sure that if you are wearing shoes without arch support that they are as close to the ground as possible.

                      If you have big, "cushioned" CW shoes, but also forgo arch support, then you are going to do yourself damage. The flexing of the foot within the shoe and the excess cushion giving way leads to movement that ends up straining your body. E.g. the bottom of your foot flexes too much (plantar fasciitis) your Achilles tendon moves too much laterally, or your heel moves past the toes downwards (Achilles tendonitis), your lower leg bones rotate more (shin splints) etc. If you have unsupported shoes that are nice and close to the ground and allow for a natural movement pattern, then do not have to worry.

                      I hope that makes sense.
                      +10000 I am one of those people. You nailed it perfectly, icme!
                      I walk around our house barefoot or in socks all day, 7 days a week (I work at home) and dance barefoot once or twice a week, but if I am wearing hiking boots, I need really good arch support for my high-arched, flexible dancer's feet.
                      Ancestral Nutrition Coaching
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dragonfly View Post
                        +10000 I am one of those people. You nailed it perfectly, icme!
                        I walk around our house barefoot or in socks all day, 7 days a week (I work at home) and dance barefoot once or twice a week, but if I am wearing hiking boots, I need really good arch support for my high-arched, flexible dancer's feet.
                        Yeah. I sold CW shoes at a running shoe store for 2 years. We were a very "specialized" store and did personal shoe fits. Needless to say, as I became more aware of the power of being barefoot, I also became aware of the best way to avoid problems while following CW.

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                        • #13
                          I just never understood why not having arch support in shoes was a big deal. Maybe because I have naturally high arches and I did gymnastics for 15 years as a child. We never wore shoes in the gym, so maybe that helped keep my feet strong. I also had an excellent track coach in college that made us run barefoot in the grass quite regularly.

                          It was funny because the person that told me that the flat shoes I like to wear have no "arch support" also wears 3"-4" high heels on a daily basis....hmmm...what's worse for your foot, wearing flat shoes or wearing shoes that force your calf and achilles to drastically shorten and stay constantly on the ball of your foot? Don't get me wrong, I love a good pair of stylish shoes, but I'm not going to wear them all day every day...that can't be good for them!

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                          • #14
                            can one "cure" the flat foot?

                            people get flat feet for a lot of reasons. for some, it *is* genetic--just as it is genetic to have high arches or medium, or what have you. for others, it is a situation of development over time, which could be due to shoes, injury, or any number of things.

                            now, CW about flat feet--if you are "diagnosed" as a small child--is to put you in special shoes with metal shanks that "lift" the arch. then, you wear special shoes throughout the years to try to prevent over pronating, and of course, the feet just get flatter because --as in my husband's case -- not only did he go to a 400 year old podiatrist who new nothing about the newer science of this in the 70s, btu his mother is a shoe "nazi" and literally wears some kind of shoe at all times, including her "sleeping shoes." (a pair of slippers). so, my husband was ALWAYS in shoes. you should also see the orthdontic madness they put him through.

                            anyway, bottom line is, if the naturally flat foot never has the opportunity to strengthen (via being barefoot), then an arch will not develop and the issues related (many of which my husband hand) will arise.

                            when i met my husbnad, he felt it was 'impossible" to get an arch. my MIL actually *screamed* at me about it for an hour.

                            but, between barefooting, certain yoga exercises, using wooden clogs (which hold your feet into the right position, but force it into a "work out" because it does not cushion-- bastad's are the best brand) which he would wear on 30 minute walks each day, he has an arch. the callouses that he'd developed over the years (which were nasty) seriously decreased, and so did any knee and hip pain that he had from the overpronation.

                            now, he's barefoot indoors most of the time, wears keens or clogs about town, and runs in completely flat shoes (currently adidas, but soon to be VFFs).

                            his arch is not "normal height" and he still over pronates a bit, but it's a very different gait than before, and the arch is discernible. when he is standing, he might have to concentrate at first to get into the right position, but it's becoming his normal way to stand and walk.

                            for those who had it due to injury, there may be other things to consider--such as breaks in the bone (microfractures and the like), tendon issues (tears, overstretched, etc), and so on. but, with the proper understanding of what is going on, and the appropriate combinations of exercise and support.

                            so, it can be "helped" which may or may not be a "cure."

                            the same is true, btw, of the high arch. it's a foot that is too rigid, so with the proper work, we can discernible lowering of the arch (added flexibility of the foot), but it will still have a high arch (and be a more narrow foot and all of that).

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                            • #15
                              the whole idea of arch support is bizarre. To strengthen your biceps and get them in optimal shape, you don't put your arm in a super-padded sling to "support" it.

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