Written by Michelle Champlin BSc Pod., M.Ch.S., S.R., Ch., (UK)
Your feet don’t have just one arch, but three. They work together to create arches or ‘caves’ that create stability, provide flexibility and shock absorption and also propulsion to move you forward. Chief Podiatrist Michelle Champlin explains what the transverse arch does and how its collapse can create a range of foot-related issues.
Mrs Champlin explains “The foot shows up your general health – as the furthest from your heart, sensory and nerve problems show up first in the feet. This is the main reason why diabetics come for an annual or bi-annual foot check with the Podiatrist, to catch any impairment early before it affects major organs. There are three arches of your feet – the main one we all know of on the inside of your foot, and also one on the outside of the foot. The most important one in my opinion is an arch running across the front of the foot – the transverse arch. If this collapses, then the other two collapse in turn.”
The arches in your foot provide structural support, like a cave or bridge
The transverse arch is in your forefoot and ‘depth-wise’ runs from the metatarsal heads back to the tarsal bones, and across the foot from the inside to the outside edges of the foot. At the forward aspect of the transverse arch, the metatarsal heads contact the ground. Collapse of the transverse arch will often result in a build-up of thick callous underneath the metatarsal heads. Left untreated, “dropped” metatarsal heads and/or irritation of one of the interdigital nerves (a “Morton’s neuroma”) is also a good indications that this arch is not being supported properly by the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue connecting your heelbone to your forefoot. In turn, constant pulling on the fascia can lead to heel pain, or ‘plantar fasciitis’.
Collapse of the transverse arch can also lead to the forefoot splaying and spreading out, resulting in bunions or bunionettes.
Collapse or dysfunction of any of the foot’s three arches needs to be addressed by your Podiatrist, specializing in biomechanics, with custom-made stabilizing orthotics that will support the foot both when standing and throughout the gait cycle, while controlling the impact forces. Orthotics can also be custom designed for the different movements and forices specific to certain sports, from football to skiing. Particularly when there is asymmetry between the feet or legs, arch problems can cause abnormal rotational forces to be transmitted through the ankles, leg bones, knee joints and into the pelvis and spine, resulting even in hip or lower back pain.
If you are experiencing foot, ankle, leg or hip pain, contact the podiatry team at Dubai Podiatry Centre on +971 4 3435390.