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What is arch pain, and what causes it?

When looking at an adult foot from the inner side, you'll usually notice an upward curve in the middle. This is called an arch. Tendons, which are the tight bands that attach at the heel and foot bones, form the arch. Several tendons in your foot and lower leg work together to form the arch in your foot. The arches are the primary structures of the body that absorb shocks when you are on your feet.

When the tendons all pull adequately, the foot forms a moderate, normal arch. When tendons do not pull together properly, there is little or no arch. This is called flat foot or fallen arch. When our arches don’t effectively absorb the shock of our steps, this can result in painful or achy feet, especially in the areas of the arches and heels. Foot arch pain can often be made worse with long periods of standing or physical activity. Having flat feet can contribute to pain and complications in other parts of the body as well, such as the ankle, knees, and lower leg

Image of a side view of a bare foot. Where the foot arch should be is a star

There can be many other causes of arch pain. Direct injury, muscle strains, ligament sprains, tightness or lack of tightness of the joints in the foot are just some of the other possible causes of this pain

Image of a side view of a bare foot showing the arch, an upward curve near the middle of the foot