The Easiest Way to Identify Your Arch Type

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

Diagram of common arch typesAs the summer peaks and starts heading toward fall, many parents and school-aged kids start thinking about back-to-school sales, including shoes. A year of wear and tear through school and summer vacation, not to mention growth in younger children and teenagers, typically leaves school kids in need of new shoes. Knowing how much footwear can impact lower limb health and comfort, especially when it comes to heel and arch pain, it’s important to get properly-fitted footwear. Of course, to do this, you need to know his or her arch type. Fortunately, there are easy ways to get an estimate of the arch shape.

There are three main types of foot arches: normal, low, and high. A majority of people have normal arches, but a fair number have flat feet, and few even have an abnormally high midfoot. To be able to accommodate this in your son or daughter’s footwear, you have to be able to tell which type he or she has. The simplest way to tell is through the wet test.

The west test uses the shape of a footprint to get a rough idea of the actual shape of the arch. It’s simple but effective. Here’s how you can do it at home:

1. Put a thin layer of water in the bottom of a pan. Set it on the floor next to a piece of heavy paper.

2. Help your child set one bare foot lightly in the pan to wet the sole.

3.  Have your son or daughter set his or her wet sole on the heavy paper. Wait for a few seconds, then have your child step off the paper.

4. Examine the wet foot print. It should somewhat resemble one of the following footprints:

  • A moderate curve in the middle of the print – This is common with normal arches.
  • The entire foot appears visible – This arch is flat and left a wide print.
  • Only a thin outer edge between the front and back – The arch is high and not visible.

The wet test works for adults as well. If you’re not sure you can tell what the arch type is, or you’re not sure what shoes to look for even if you do know the shape of your child’s midfoot, let us help.

Did you know that Dr. Parker is one of a few specialists in Houston that performs total flat foot reconstruction? This procedure builds a new foot with an arch and eliminates the painful and embarrassing flat foot deformity. This allows the child to participate in sports and other activities with other children!

Our team at Parker Foot & Ankle can easily analyze arches and advise on shoe types. Just call (281) 497-2850 for an appointment at our Houston office.

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