What is Arch Pain?
Arch pain is the term used to describe symptoms that occur under the arch of the foot.
The arch is formed by a tight band of ligaments that connect the heel bone to the metatarsal heads at the base of the toes. This band acts as shock absorption and plays a vital role in the efficient functioning of the foot during walking (Biomechanics). Due to stresses and strains on the ligaments the area becomes inflamed and it can often cause a burning sensation, or 'burning feet', under the long arch of the foot.
What causes Arch Pain?
There are a number of possible causes for arch pain, but the most common is due to structural imbalances of the foot, such as over-pronation (inward rolling of the feet) whichcauses excessive stretching of the ligaments along the sole of the foot.
This condition is also known as Plantar Fasciitis whereby the inflamed band of ligaments causes arch pain which is usually worse early in the morning as the ligaments (plantar fascia) become contracted and tighten as you sleep through the night. When awakening and walking in the morning, the fascia is still tight and prone to irritation when stretched. When walking or standing for long periods, the plantar fascia becomes inflamed and painful. The condition will exacerbate with overuse such as running, walking on hard surfaces, combined with inadequate or non-supportive footwear.
Treatment and prevention of Arch Pain
It is important to consider what is causing the Arch Pain, for example it may be due to the inadequacy of footwear. At the acute stage, the application of ice compress is useful to reduce inflammation. Later heat and anti-inflammatory gels can be a big help.
Stretching exercises should be continued long after the symptoms are gone. The plantar ligaments and calf muscles need to be stretched regularly. A useful exercise is standing on the edge of a step where the forefoot is in contact with the step yet the remaining back foot is hanging over the edge. Push the weight of the body down and you will feel the stretch.
Arch support insoles that fit into shoes are useful as they will prevent some stretching. This is particularly useful at the early stages of the condition. Long term solutions lie in the use of insoles and orthotics that will correct any imbalance as well as support the log arch.
Rest the foot while the condition is present and avoid long distance walking and vigorous sport activities.
This information is for guidance only. If you are in doubt at all, please consult your nearest health professional.