Does Arch Height Affect Athletic Ability?

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By Oghale Eleyae, DPM

     Just to be clear, this connection between arch height and specific athletic abilities is based on anecdotal observation. It is currently not supported by any study published at this time.

     However, I am currently working on a study designed to investigate this possible connection. This study involves comparing a number of athletes with increased medial arches in one group and reduced medial arches in another group. All athletes in the study are in good physical condition and are on soccer, baseball and basketball teams. Players will be required to go through an obstacle course that involves stop and go maneuvers, cutting and acceleration.

     The study will compare the obstacle course times recorded for the athletes with reduced arch height to the times recorded for those with increased arch height. The study can encompass all men or all women as long as one records the times and compares them fairly. Specifically, men will be included in this study in order to achieve more of a consistency with the comparison. I anticipate that the study will confirm my observations that arch height does affect athletic abilities.

In Conclusion

     What is the relevance of this information? Will this affect the way one practices? These are legitimate questions. The fact of the matter is that it may not change or affect your current style of practice. However, for sports medicine physicians, it seems essential to have a great deal of knowledge and understanding of anatomy, biomechanics, maneuvers associated with the different sporting events and shoe gear (such as soccer cleats). The ability to anticipate an injury by understanding the athletes’ anatomy creates an opportunity for preventive care.

     At the professional sports level, knowledge of the interaction between foot morphology and performance may help in evaluating and selecting athletes for a high end professional sports franchise. It also provides background knowledge and insight necessary to educate athletes on realistic goals for participating in certain sporting events.

     Dr. Eleyae completed a Sports Medicine Fellowship at the Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine in Miami, Florida.

     Dr. Richie is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Biomechanics at the California School of Podiatric Medicine at Samuel Merritt College. He is a Past President of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine.


1. Orendurff MS, et al. Regional foot pressure during running, cutting, jumping and landing. Am J Sports Med 36:566-571, 2008.
2. Lees A, et al. Shock absorption during forefoot running and its relationship to medial longitudinal arch height. Foot Ankle Intl 26(12):1081-1088, 2005.

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