Running With Fallen Arches

woman runner tying shoelaces on trail

You may think you can't run if you have fallen arches. But this is only true if you don't take preventive measures to eliminate any strain on your feet, knees and legs. There may be a minority of people with fallen arches whose feet don't roll inward or overpronate when they run or walk. But for the most part, flat-footed people do overpronate. Not controlling overpronation can result in many forms of problems and injuries to your feet, knees and legs.

Diagnosing Overpronation

While some overpronation is normal as part of your foot's shock absorption, your arches may have collapsed so much as to cause excessive overpronation. To gauge if you are an overpronator, look at your feet as you stand. If your arches touch the ground, you likely overpronate. Also, look at your running shoes for any excessive wear on the inside edge or medial side of the sole to see if you are overpronating. Finally, wet your feet, and look at the imprint your feet leave on a towel as you walk or stand. If you see the entire silhouette of your foot with no gap in the arch, you overpronate.

Motion Control Shoes

The book "Running Anatomy" by Joseph Puleo and Patrick Milroy note that each running foot strike produces an impact of three to four times your body weight. Ff you have fallen arches and are running in incorrect shoes, the likelihood of injury is greatly increased. The authors recommend that flat-footed overpronators wear a motion-control running shoe. This has a fairly straight shape and usually features a form of thicker, denser stability device built into the arch. Wearing this type of shoe will keep your entire foot, knee and leg complex in a mechanically neutral position and reduce stress.

Orthotics Can Help

While a stability or motion control shoe should be your first remedy for your flat, overpronating feet, you may wish to try an orthotic as well. Look for either an over-the-counter or custom-molded orthotic can help you to run pain-free. The built-in arch support and deep heel cup of an orthotic stabilize your foot and leg, and can be easily slipped into and transferred from shoe to shoe. Most over-the-counter orthotics have a generalized fit and a lower price point. Orthotics that are custom-molded to your specific foot can be much more expensive.

Fallen Arches Effects

The list of injuries that can result from uncontrolled overpronation is pretty extensive. These include shin splints, anterior compartment syndrome, patello-femoral pain syndrome, plantar fasciitis, tarsal tunnel syndrome, bunions, achilles tendonitis. These injuries can be avoided by wearing the correct shoe aor orthotic in your running shoes. Puleo and Milroy point out that physical problems can occur from shoes that are ill-fit for your fallen arches. Also, wearing shoes beyond their 400 to 500 miles of running life span can promote impact and biomechanical issues.

Strength Training Reduces Stress

Orthotics and motion control running shoes are one way to stay injury-free while running with fallen arches, but Puleo and Milroy note that strength training also can help. They maintain that weight training to strengthen your calf, quadriceps, hamstring, and gluteus muscles helps take stress caused by overpronation off your knees and lets these muscles help in the stabilization process.