Arch Supports: When Does A Tool Become A Crutch?

Stones sculpted into footsteps.

Hi folks, welcome!

We need tools to assist with weak areas of our bodies, but once the issue is corrected beware turning a tool into a crutch.

Heel-Pain-Link-Figure1-forwebIn the process of providing advice (not medical advice!) to a customer suffering from plantar fasciitis related to weak arches, I agreed to write a blog post on the subject of arch supports. In the process of writing, I found that I had already written on the subject a while ago, and this article covered my current point of view, nicely:

Here is the link to that post, which was entitled, “Tools, Toys, Crutches, And How To Tell The Difference When It Comes To Shoe Orthotics.

Boy, I got off easy on todays’s post, so I can return to marketing, but first a word of advice on the selection of shoe inserts designed to provide arch support. Here are some of your choices, and it is up to you to choose. I have listed them in order of my preference, which is influenced by cost and personal bias, I must admit. I’m not telling you what to do, I’m just saying what I would do, given years of experience of my own foot and running issues:

  1. Strengthen your own arch supports, your arch system. If you still need help, proceed to #2.feet(2)
  2. Have a functional foot scan using equipment such as that provided in shoe stores, e.g. Shoe Dog, and try the orthotic recommended.
  3. Go to your local pharmacy and choose an inexpensive arch support that will provide assistance where you think that you need it.
  4. Go to a local running store and be guided by their selection; I had excellent advice from our local store, Fleet Feet in Carrboro, NC, USA.
  5. Visit a podiatrist or physical therapist, and have custom inserts made – I‘ve received both excellent and horrible advice, and orthotics, by following this route, so beware. Problem – cost and finding the right person.
Katy Puckett manager of Fleet Feet in Carrboro, NC, USA

Katy, the manager of Fleet Feet in Carrboro, NC, USA, provided FitOldDog with some great running shoes and excellent advice on the art of sales. I also purchased Superfeet arch supports, but I weaned off them in about 3 months. Photo by FitOldDog.

Always start with little changes, which means try the orthotics for a few minutes at first, and see how your feet feel the next day. Repeat, gradually increasing their use. Once you have adapted to your new arch supports, and you feel ready to let them go, develop a program to do so, which will include learning how to both use and strengthen your own foot arch support system.

Remember, the goal is to wean yourself safely off of arch supports as soon as possible.

If you haven’t been there, you have no idea how smooth and fluid running can be with strong, springy, intelligent, educated arches in minimalist running shoes.

Your foot arches become your best running partners.

Wishing y’all happy feet.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. I was recently diagnosed with Anterior Pelvic Tilt, stemming from extreme flat-footedness. I was referred to a podiatrist for custom orthotics which I am currently breaking in. I came upon your article because I don’t feel as though the root cause is being addressed (as is typical in most modern medical practice) and if it were up to the podiatrist, I would be a repeat customer in following years when my inserts need to be replaced. What resources would you recommend (people, books, websites, etc.) for weening off of the inserts? Should I be looking into barefoot running? Any guidance you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time and consideration.

    • Hi Andrew, interesting.
      For a start, flat feet can be fixed by activating arch machinery. I think we made a video on this. I’ll look it up. Secondly, finding the root cause of your issues comes down to the study of body-movement (biomechanics) and body-awareness. I always recommend Feldenkrais, for starters. The best (and cheapest) way to explore that is to do the 30 exercises described by Jack Heggie in his remarkable book, “Running With the Whole Body,” which is not just for running, by the way. I had a great Feldenkrais instructor for five years.

      You are welcome to contact me directly, or ask questions on one of my Facebook pages, which allow for real-time conversation.

      Do I trust most podiatrists and doctors with these types of issues? No! There are rare good ones, but at the end of the day, we are our best physician, and the “experts” are tools in our toolbox. I’m a veterinary pathologist, btw.

      I love helping people fix this kind of stuff. I’ll go look for that arch activation video, made with one of my body-movement teachers, ages ago.

      Found it – old, has annoying ads, not mine, irritating music, I was learning, but Rebecca is a great teacher. It was made in the context of my work on so-called plantar fasciitis, when I thought it was a foot problem – I was wrong, like everyone else, it’s not, it’s a hip problem.

      Live and learn, and here’s the link, and hang in there. It’s detective work.


Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.