Fallen arches are often confused with the term 'flat feet'. Flat feet are very rare, only affecting 5% of the population, whereas fallen arches (over over-pronation) is very common.
Some people have a high arch (Latin: Pes Cavus) and their feet are very rigid, unable to absorb shock through our natural shock-absorbing mechanism of pronation and supination.
The majority of us have a normal arch (or somewhat low arch) and only 5-10% have a high arch!
However, most people with a 'normal- to-low' arch actually suffer from 'over-pronation' during walking, running and standing. This means the foot may appear normal and a clear arch is present under the foot, especially when sitting down...
This siutation changes with weight bearing; with every step we take the arches collapse and the ankles roll inwards. This is called over-pronation. Pronation itself is not wrong as we need to pronate and supinate as part of our gait. Pronation (rolling in) acts as a shock absorbing process and supination (rolling out) helps to propel our feet forward.
Over-pronation occurs when we pronate too deep and for too long, not giving the foot a chance to 'recover' and supinate.
As a result, over-pronation hampers our natural walking pattern, causing an imbalance in the feet and leading to wear and tear in other parts of the body.
Over time, over-pronation (or excess pronation) leads to many biomechanical complaints: not just foot complaints like heel pain, heel spurs, Plantar Fasciitis or Achilles Tendonitis.
This imbalance also contributes to common problems such as shin splints, knee pain and low back pain.