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Arch Support Is Not From Shoes

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The previous article showed how the best ankle support comes from your own ankle, leg, and foot muscles. Pronation (flat, sagging arches) is rarely just the way your feet are made, or something you can't prevent. Usually it is a slouching posture, where the ankles are allowed to sag. You can prevent sagging, and can hold your ankles in healthy position, no differently than not letting your posture sag anywhere else.

It is commonly taught in gyms, medical schools, aerobics certification programs, and footwear stores all over the US, that shoes or orthotics are necessary to hold your arches in position. The needed support can come from your own foot muscles. How do you do this?

  • Stand up with both feet parallel, pointing straight ahead.
  • See if your arch slumps downward, pressing your arches against the floor (left photo). In most cases, there is nothing wrong with your arches, but because you allowed it to slouch.
  • If you use the muscles on the outsides of your ankles and legs, you can gently shift your weight more evenly to neutral ankle (right photo) and stand straight. Don't tilt completely to the side or stand on the sides of your feet, just shift enough to lift your arches from the floor.
  • Don't yank just from the ankle, causing strain to the next segment. See where the slouch is coming from and make the entire leg positioning healthy.
  • Having arch support from your leg and foot muscles is the same as using your upper body muscles to stop neck and shoulder slouching. Are you are slouching right now reading this? Straighten your upper body in healthy manner to remind yourself you can use your own muscles to be healthy.
  • If it hurts, it's wrong. Don't force.

All you are doing is learning how to stand neutral, instead of tilted too much inward or too much outward. Both can compress joints and soft tissue. The concept is to hold your feet in the same healthful position that shoe supports would. It is like an ice skater learns to hold their skates straight at the ankle, not angled.

Engineered running shoes are not necessary to prevent lower leg pain. Some even add to knee and ankle pain - more in other articles. Support your own feet by holding position using your own muscles, not a shoe 'straight jacket' that lets ankles atrophy and doesn't let toes move, stretch, and straighten.

Orthotics are Different from Shoe Cushions:

More on Foot and Ankle Health:

  1. Healthy Toe Stretches and Unhealthy Yoga Ankles
  2. My web site page Inspiring Patient Stories for a first-hand account of a patient who fixed a lifetime of pain and pronation by stopping the cause - letting ankles and feet sag. By holding healthy positions during your normal day, you can get free, built- in exercise for your feet and ankles, and better health.
  3. The book, "Fix Your Own Pain Without Drugs or Surgery" for how to have healthy arches and foot support.


It shouldn't hurt, or require commercial products or machinery to just stand up straight.


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Read success stories of these methods and send your own. See if your answers are already here by clicking Fitness FIxer labels, links, archives at right, and Index. Subscribe free, "updates via e-mail"  upper right. For personal medical questions - Replies to Medical Questions. Limited Class space for personal feedback. Top students may earn certification, DrBookspan.com/Academy. Get more in Dr. Bookspan's Books.

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Photo copyright by Dr. Jolie Bookspan from the book Healthy Martial Arts


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About the Author


M.Ed, PhD, FAWM

Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.

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