Support Your Foot Arches And They’ll Support You, Whilst You Risk Plantar Fasciitis And Other Running Injuries If You Don’t

Hi folks, welcome!

Arches of the Foot WikiPedia

For a great description of the foot arch support system go to WikiPedia, ‘Arches of the Foot.’ I won’t link the figure due to risk of Malware I’ve had from this site, which I do support financially.

When I say support your foot arches, I don’t mean use arch supports in your shoes (though they do have their place in injury recovery), I want to say that you should activate and strengthen the bits and pieces of your body that hold your arches up physically AND dynamically.


As the foot collapses you can see how the plantar fascia would be excessively stretched.

A few blog posts back I mentioned the effectiveness of clicking my fingers to activate the left side of my body, whilst running. I learned this trick from my Dance and Continuum teacher, Rebecca. Well! The same applies to one’s foot arches. The support systems have to be strong, but they also need to be activated. You can have the biggest engine in your car that you want, but if you don’t push down on the accelerator pedal, so what? This is true of your feet, which are somewhat like the suspension system in your car that includes big springs to take the impact, and shock absorbers to prevent the car bouncing (called storage and loss moduli in viscoelastic fluids, if you’re interested in the details). Flat feet are like having broken springs supporting the wheels of your car – you’d feel every bump until the car falls to pieces. Same idea for your feet when it comes to running.

Having Flat Feet, coupled with excessive physical activity or  being overweight, can cause increased stretching of the plantar fascia and trigger the dreaded plantar fasciitis.

Two very different shoes - right, minimalist Nike Free, that I use for running (just running), and left Hoka One Ones that I use for running off of long bike rides when my calves and arches are shot. Different tools for different situations.

Two very different shoes – right, minimalist Nike Free, that I use for running (just running), and left Hoka One Ones that I employ for running off of long bike rides, when my calves and arches are shot. Different tools for different situations, but I consider arch supports to be tools to recover from injury, otherwise no way – they become a crutch, like a pull buoy in the pool.

When I start my runs, for a few hundred yards my feet tend to ‘clomp’ on the ground as I work to engage them, landing more and more towards the balls of my feet. This wakes up my arches, and gradually my run smooths out with decreasing impact stress, which is a great feeling. My activated foot arches catch my body weight like the smooth movement of a catcher’s mitt in a game of baseball.

My feet feel like intelligent springs, gently catching my weight in an effortless and impact-free movement, which in fact is what they are, once activated.

The best way to develop the feeling of active feet is barefoot running, but approach it very carefully!

Alternatively, try exploring your arches through the use of Yoga toes (you can use your fingers as an inexpensive alternative), then work back up your legs to massage your foot arches on a roller, exploring ankle strength and flexibility (and balance), again using rollers (see our body awareness video series for details), then on up through your calves, thighs, especially hamstrings, and all the way to the top of your head.

Body awareness education is the key to optimal movement, with due attention being paid to each major system, including skeletal alignment, myofascial health, vascular and skin tone, and all the rest. A life time of study and fun, my friends, if you want to stay mobile and active late into your life, and free of such demons as plantar fasciitis.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Sooooo true about the arches. I have high arches, narrow foot, and fallen arches too. For a time I literally could not walk barefoot. Now I found the neatest things I wear around each arch – I’ll look for the link – and I can walk barefoot now. I do the foot exercises and I always have inserts with good arch supports in them. This is interesting and I’ll share.

  2. Hi Marsha, thanks for the info. Glad you can get around, as it sure improves one’s life. Cheers, Kevin

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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.