Arches high and Low 2

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More than three months since the posting in which I pictured the quaking aspen (pando). Having read “The Hidden Life of Trees” as “lockdown” took grip here in the UK I was struck by learning that trees thrive in communities and within these communities they help each other:

“… is not in a forest’s interests to lose it’s weaker members….” p15

Yet some trees, grow far apart from their “mothers” since the seeds can fly long distances and these “pioneers” develop ways of maximizing their chances away from community.  Aspens are “pioneers” which convert energy with great efficiency.  The “shaking” leaves receive sunlight on both the top and bottom,  photosynthesize and generate energy and quick growth.  Quick growth can leave a tree vulnerable – to winds and grazing creatures which nibble the bark , so aspens expand their root system.  From these roots, many sub shoots can grow and a single tree may extend over a huge area – thus creating a mini forest.  Pando – Latin pandere – to spread. I was astonished by this example of the trees maintaining equilibrium (homeostasis) and of “grounding”.

We practice our yoga from the ground -up.  Foot exercises, foot placement, foot- ankle-knee alignment; cues such as grounding, rooting, sinking the feet; making good footprints all help.  However, the plight of those with high arches has recently been brought to my attention – particularly how difficult and painful it can be to achieve all of the above with feet that are essentially rigid.  High arches do not absorb shock well and seem to be more difficult to treat.  An interesting clip on per cavus that includes patterning and how shoes may have affected our foot function over the millenia.

foot arch types - Foot & Leg Centre***With thanks to

The blog Arches – high and low is one of the most read on the site and I am realizing how difficult it is to find movements to address discomfort resulting from high arches.  It is less common than low/flat arch and my lack of knowledge is apparent in the blog since I skipped over high arches (excuse the pun).  The internet is flooded with exercises to strengthen “flat arches” and to correct pronation.  Dr Kody Au again on the different effects upon the structure of the foot for those low or high arches (3.46 in for high arches)

The most common “treatment” for high arch discomfort is orthotics and custom made is obviously best.  A physio, osteopath, medical professional would be able to examine the foot and leg to look for imbalances up the kinetic chain – ankle, knee hip – and suggest movements to help stabilize the whole structure.  High arch pain may also be due to nerve irritation and this is an area  in which professional advice is crucial.

Manual therapy is very useful (Foot Mobilisation Therapy) – mobilizing the foot is key. Perhaps considering the ends of the rigid arch is more helpful than the arch itself – the connection to the  toes and to the heel – paying particular attention to mobilizing these areas:

toes under and toes flat movements

stengthening and lengthening the toes – towel pulls, toe separators etc

Lengthening the calf and soleus muscles

Sprinters,  TfHP13 – Functional mobility is good for all the above since regular practice strengthens the feet, stretches the mechanical structures of the back of the leg from the heel up and improves proprioception by “mapping” the sensory receptors in the foot.  However, since a cue when teaching Sprinters is to focus upon planting the outside edge of the foot to avoid the knee rolling in when lifting the spine, someone with high arches does this naturally  – as you can see in the Foot Arch Type visual.  The cues would need to be: –

keep a really steady footprint to avoid supination and over stressing the ankle joint

Sense whether you are side bending or rotating as you lift the spine  (as a result of the foot rolling out)

  • Tree pose does flatten the arch but may not be as helpful .  The beauty of Sprinters is that the centre of gravity is lower and since non-contact force is gravitational force, the pressure through the more rigid foot should be less.  Balance through the back foot may also help to reduce foot pain.  *** Feedback welcomed on this.

Distributing weight between the heel and ball of the foot when walking rather than hard heel strike helps with shock absorption through the whole leg.

Since high arches do not absorb shock well, cushioning in running shoes may well be very useful.

Some osteopaths use taping with some success.  I have seen this work for those suffering from Plantar Fasciitis but have not heard from anyone with high arch pain.

On the site there are short videos that may help.

As you can tell, I am struggling to provide tried and tested guidance in this area and would welcome any feedback from the readers of this blog.  Inside Yoga is not connected to FB, Instagram, Twitter etc ; it is a small community in a tiny out corner of the internet.  One reader has asked for some advice; if you can help I would be most grateful.

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