Foot Arch Question: Sent in from one of our readers
How would one go about “rebuilding” their transverse arch? The latter is pretty much convex. This also accomapnied by very tight long toe extensors (as evidenced by their tendons being very prominent at the top of my foot and my toes being curled at rest) and have suffered on and off from Morton’s neuroma. The ball of my shoes (right in the middle) is where the insoles of my shoes see the most wear. It’s not a huge concern of mine, but I would like to deal with this. I’ve suffered several ankle injuries (as a basketball player) and although I’ve tried orthotics in the past (for the neuroma), I’ve relied mostly on minimalist footwear (except when playing ball of course…). I know some rehab would be in order and would likely work. I’ve “reconditoned” my big toe abductors in the past and can even cross my second to over my big toe, so am just looking for some direction.
As you probably are aware, there are 3 arches in the foot: the medial longitudinal (the one most people refer to as the “arch”, the lateral longitudinal (on the outside of the foot) and transverse (across the met heads).
Your collapsed transverse arch seems like it may be compensated for by a rigid, probably high medial and lateral longitudinal arches. This creates rigidity through the midfoot (and often rear foot) and creates excessive motion to try and occur in the forefoot. Depending on how much motion is available, this may or may not occur.
You don’t seem to be able to get your 1st metatarsal head to the ground to form an adequate tripod, so you are trying, in succession, to get some of the other, more flexible ones there (thus the wear in the “ball” of the foot you noted). This results in increased pressure, metatarsal head pain, possibly a bunion and often neuromas.
From your description, you actually have very weak long toe extensors (and possibly some shortening) which is causing the prominence of the tendons, along with overactivity of the long flexors (and thus the clawing) in an attempt to create stability. I am willing to bet you have tight calves as well (especially medially, from overuse of the gastroc to control the foot) and limited hip extension with tight hip flexors.
The foot tripod exercises are a great place to start, as well as heel walking with the toes extended and walking with the toes up (emphasizing extension, which counteracts the flexors). Stay away from open back shoes and flip flops/sandals; continue to go barefoot and get some foot massages to loosen things up. Maybe use one of those golfballs to massage the bottom of the foot when you get off the course and get some golf shoes that aren’t quite so rigid.
Hey everyone. Have a Great 4th of July!
The Gait Guys