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Arch support is physical support for the arches of the feet, provided with the use of a medical devices. Devices which create support for the arches can be found at some sports and shoe stores, and they can also provided by a podiatrist or similar professional who works with feet. When corrective devices are prescribed and customized, they may be known as orthotics, referencing the profession which involves correcting physical problems which lead to pain, poor athletic performance, and other issues.
There is some dispute about the role of the natural arches found in the feet in walking and other forms of movement. People can function very well with unusually low or high arches, with issues seeming to arise when the joints in the feet are stressed, the muscles are damaged through overextension, or when the feet are considerably strained. In these cases, wearing arch supports can help the foot rebuild its natural strength in the arches of the feet, preventing further injury and eventually repairing damage.
People can provide support for their arches in a number of ways. Sometimes it is done with the assistance of shoe inserts which are designed to hold up fallen arches. Shoe inserts come in a range of styles and designs, and people who need support should take care to use products which have been designed for this purpose, rather than generic shock absorbing inserts or inserts designed for other functions. Good support inserts are fairly rigid, to keep the arches up, with some give so that the arch can move up and down naturally as the person moves.
Taping or strapping may also be used to create arch support. This type of support is worn continuously and changed every few days or more often as needed. People with severely fallen or painful arches may benefit from this type of arch support because it supports their arches while they are barefoot and sleeping, in addition to when they are wearing shoes.
People who experience leg and foot pain may want to consider meeting with an orthotics consultant to talk about the issue and get recommendations. The consultant may recommend the use of orthotic shoes or orthotic inserts to address specific issues with the feet and legs, and he or she can help steer consumers away from products they do not need to use. Getting orthotics properly fitted is also important, as poorly fitting arch support or any other type of orthotic device can cause more harm than good.