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I find hiking as a great way to de-stress and stay in shape. It is also an avenue to meet new friends and build long-lasting relationships.
However, one should be able to commune with nature and enjoy these benefits without sacrificing the health of the feet.
So, having proper arch support and cushioning in your shoes protect your feet while hiking.
If you want to learn more about proper arch support and cushioning for hiking, then here are ten facts to get you more acquainted about it.
What Is a Foot’s Arch and Why Does It Need to Be Supported
A foot’s arch is the convex part in the middle of the foot between the ball and the heel. Similar to a meticulously designed bridge, the arch provides stability to the foot. Its measurements differ from person to person.
In fact, your feet do not have the same sizes of arches. A foot’s arch could move and transform as one grows older. It is quite possible that your feet’s arches have changed from the time you were still a small child up to now.
You need to have the arches of your feet supported because they bear so much pressure when you walk, run, or jump. In fact, you may not notice it, but your feet’s arches take a lot of damage every day.
This is true, especially when hiking. Without sufficient arch support, the feet are at risk of getting injured.
How to Know if You Need Arch Support and Cushioning
Some people complain about pain in their feet without knowing what actually causes it. I’ve found out that one of the leading causes of foot ache is improper or insufficient arch support and cushioning on the footwear.
The possibility of the feet’s arches collapsing could happen anytime because of lack of arch support. When that happens, chronic foot pain begins. Arch collapse is also called flat feet, and it brings a lot of issues to the sufferer.
To determine whether you have flat feet and that you need more arch support, simply wet your feet then step on a piece of paper. Step off it at once and observe the shape of your feet left on the paper. If the outline looked fuller than you expect, then it’s likely that you have collapsed arches. That is because almost your whole feet touched the ground.
What Happens When You Leave Your Arch Without Support
Leaving your feet’s arches unsupported brings a lot of health risks. For one, you could soon develop a continuing discomfort every time you take a walk. It may also soon develop into a stinging pain on the ankles and heels whenever you put pressure on them.
Arch collapse also makes your feet tire quickly or make their inner sides swell. Back and leg pain could soon follow if the problem is not fixed. That is why I purchased new foot insoles as soon as I noticed a trace of discomfort while hiking.
Why You Should Immediately Know if You Need New Shoe Insoles
Early discovery is key to prevent having an arch collapse or flat feet. The earlier you realize that your foot arches are getting worn down, then the earlier you get to correct them. For instance, if for only a few minutes of hiking, your feet felt tired and beaten already, then you are likely not getting enough arch support and cushioning from your shoes.
You should try to fix it at once to avoid further trouble once you notice this issue.
What Is a Fallen Foot Arch and How Does It Happen
Fallen foot arch or fallen arch is just another term for arch collapse or flat feet. These terms refer to the same thing and are interchangeable.
Some people have this condition but do not develop any foot ache, so they do not have a problem with it. However, there are those who are in lingering pain that the symptoms already have a harmful effect on their lives.
I initially experienced a little throbbing pain in the inner sides of my left foot. As I continued to hike, I then began to feel it on my right foot. That is when I knew something was wrong.
Fallen arch happens when the tendons on the foot arch do not work properly anymore. This is caused by sustained strain acquired from prolonged walking, running, or jumping without the adequate arch support and cushioning.
Indeed, these aspects of wearing footwear could easily be overlooked.
What Is Pronation and How Does It Affect Foot Arch
Pronation refers to the natural movement of your feet as you walk or run. It describes the way your feet roll inward with each stride or gait to evenly distribute the force between the ground and your feet.
There are three kinds of pronation: normal pronation, overpronation, and underpronation (or supination). The last two create the issues.
In overpronation, the inner side of the foot takes more of the stress. People whose soles wear out under the ball and inside the heel of the foot first are overpronators. It’s the opposite for underpronators, as the outer side of the shoes wears out first than the rest of the sole.
Neutral pronators deteriorate their soles more evenly.
Overpronation is more related to flat feet. Overpronators drive their foot arches downward and inward more severely. I am an overpronator, and with my type of gait, I have the risk of developing a number of foot conditions, including tarsal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendinitis, without proper arch support.
Can Arch Support Help Reduce Foot-Related Injuries?
Scientific studies are reporting that arch support does not reduce the risk of foot-related injuries per se.
However, these researchers also say that sufficient arch support and cushioning do help the feet during the recovery process after a long hike, and also in relieving pain caused by collapsed arches.
Therefore, while arch support is not necessarily a direct treatment to flat feet, it is still important when it comes to helping your feet recover or heal faster after taking a beating.
Benefits of Arch Support and Cushioning When Hiking
There are lots of benefits to having proper arch support and cushioning when hiking. These are the following:
- Gives balance and stability – Arch support provides balance and stability as you tread through uneven terrain. Your shoes need sufficient cushioning when walking on large, sharp rocks or small pebbles.
- Helps disperse pressure – Arch support breaks ups the pressure of your weight evenly on both your feet and helps correct your posture while walking. Good cushioning allows you to walk longer without feeling any discomfort.
- Eases foot pain – Enough arch support and cushioning on your footwear help relieve pain on your feet. Sore feet make it hard for you to complete all of your daily tasks.
- Provides foot care and protection – Having proper cushioning and arch support are part of caring for your feet. The feet are some of the most overlooked parts of the body when it comes to healthcare. Not many people realize its importance until they lose its complete wellness.
How to Choose the Right Arch Support and Cushioning for Hiking
Having the right insoles helped a lot to improve my hiking experience. It made me feel more comfortable despite walking long distances, which in turn made the whole trip more enjoyable.
When choosing insoles, I tend to pick ones that provide a balance between support and cushioning. An insole that is too soft does not correct my feet’s pronation, thus leaving it aching after a long hike as well. So, the right balance between the two would be wonderful.
People with high foot arches use high-volume arch supports. These insoles are ideal for large footwear such as hiking boots. Medium-volume arch supports are appropriate for athletic shoes and can be used for any arch shape. Meanwhile, if your feet have low arch profiles, then low-volume arch supports are ideal.
How to Properly Take Care of Your Feet’s Arches
Taking care of the foot’s arch is essentially taking care of the entire foot. Every day, check your feet for bumps, bruises, wounds, or swelling. Check your toenails for any infection. Wash them daily with soap and warm water.
I moisturize my feet daily by putting on lotion. However, I don’t apply anything in between my toes as they are sensitive parts that are prone to infection when moist.
Also, I only wear the right fitting shoes. Whenever possible, I avoid wearing flip-flops or flat shoes because they do not give enough arch support and cushioning.