Linking Traditional Running Shoes to Poor Foot Arch Function

Traditional running shoes have arch support and other constructs that disable foot function, creating a weaker foot over time. This shod-induced foot weakness also destroys the arch by preventing it from storing elastic strain energy.

The Importance of Foot Strength for Proper Arch Function

The intrinsic foot musculature helps control the lower and rising of the arch during forefoot running. Therefore, weak intrinsic foot musculature significantly interferes with arch function.

Because the arch stores loads of elastic energy for efficient running, a weak arch will have difficulty recovering this energy.

Linking Traditional Running Shoes to Poor Foot Arch Function
Learn-term studies have found that runners with weak intrinsic foot musculature have a significantly high risk of poor arch function. Now studies have traced the loss of foot function to arch-supportive running shoes.

Bruggeman et al. found that traditional running shoes with stiff outsoles and arch support caused the arch to be less well equipped with adequate intrinsic muscular strength. Similarly, Pearl et al. purported that many habitual shod runners may experience poor running economy due to poor intrinsic muscular foot strength.

Many habitual shod runners are surprised to hear that the most effective treatment for weak arches it to not support the arch.

Thankfully, it is becoming more and more accepted that the standard running shoe is a catalyst for poor arch function, which tames worrying by runners afraid of going barefoot or pure minimally shod. Nevertheless, an unsupported arch is the reality for improved arch strength and function, thanks to the powerful data from the work of Dr. Lieberman and Dr. Robbins.

But an important takeaway for runners with arch problems is that arch function is not lost and gone forever. Arch height can be restored with only avoiding arch supportive-footwear.

More From Run Forefoot:

Barefoot Running Improves Balance – Find out how running shoes destabilize mechanics and how barefoot running can easily help.

Running Shoes and Injuries – Find out why minimalist running shoes are associated with less injury compared to the traditional running shoe.

Femur Fracture – Find out how landing with a heel strike can essentially break the strongest bone in the body.

Running with Music – Did you know that runners run best when they hear a pattern? Find out why running with music is not such a bad thing after all.

Running Shoes – My reviews on the minimalist shoes I feel are best for forefoot running.


Bruggemann GP, Potthast W, Braunstein B, Niehoff A. Effect of increased mechanical stimuli on foot muscles functional capacity. In: Proceedings of International Society for Biomechanics XXth Congress. Cleveland: American Society of Biomechanics; 2005. p. 553.

Perl et al. Effects of footwear and strike type on running economy. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2011; DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318247989e.

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!

1 Comment

  1. Also be wary of over pronation and underpronation. Alot of people do not know this, however your whole body alignment can be thrown off by your arches. You can develop shoulder pain and many doctors do not know that how your feet meet the earth can cause over use of these joints due to ill-mechanics.

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