The human foot is an incredibly complex mechanism that has two very important functions:
- Weight bearing
- Propulsion (movement)
In order to perform these functions, the foot requires a high degree of stability as well as flexibility. The multiple bones and joints of the foot give it the necessary flexibility, but in order to fully support any weight, the bones of the foot need to form an arch.
The foot has three distinct arches. Two "longitudinal" arches (one on each side) run from front to back; one "transverse arch" runs across the midfoot from inside to outside.
The "medial longitudinal arch" is the most prominent foot arch and what is typically referred to as simply, "the arch." It runs from front to back along the inside of the foot. This arch absorbs the majority of the shock of impact while walking, jumping or running.
The "lateral longitudinal arch," runs parallel to the medial longitudinal arch, but is along the outer edge of the foot. Foot print #0 above, shows how prominent this arch can be; it is most visible in people with very high arches. .
The final foot arch is called the "transverse arch." It runs across the midfoot from outside to inside. This arch also provides support and flexibility to the foot.
The arches of the foot are maintained not only by the shapes of the bones as well as by ligaments. In addition, muscles and tendons play an important role in supporting the arches.foot type (see image). The most common foot types include: