What Our Footprint Reveals About Our Foot Health

Fingerprints reflect our individuality; footprints tell us about our foot health. A simple footprint test can help us identify the help our feet may need.


Footprints and foot health

Our footprint can reveal our foot health the same way that our fingerprint reveals our unique identity. With each step by a normal foot, the heel touches the ground first, and the foot rolls forward, flattening the arch slightly. When we push off the ball of the foot, the arch springs back and doesn’t touch the ground.

Some foot issues are revealed in the way they roll from heel to toe. When the foot rolls too much toward the inside, it can lead to arch strain and pain along the inside of the knee. If the foot rolls too much toward the outside, there is an increased risk of ankle sprains and stress fractures. We can compensate for both of these abnormal tendencies by trying the watermark test to make our personal footprint.

Footprint test

All you’ll need for this test is a basin of water and brown paper. Dip your feet in the water, and then walk across the paper to make your own footprints. Here’s what the watermark test can reveal:

  • If your footprint looks like an oblong pancake with toes, you have flat feet. To prevent arch strain and knee pain, try a molded arch support, and look for athletic shoes with “control” features to prevent your feet from rolling inward. If these measures don’t work, a foot specialist can recommend custom-orthotic inserts.
  • If you see little or no connection in your footprint between your toes and heel, you have a high arch and your weight is landing on the outside edge of your foot. Look for “stability” athletic shoes that offer extra cushioning for your foot. If you are prone to ankle injuries, try high-top athletic shoes that stabilize the foot and ankle to minimize the twisting that can result in injury.

If you experience pain for more than a few days, consult a specialist for help. When we give our feet the support they need, they can support us with an active lifetime of healthy movement.

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  • Michael Castro, D.O.

    “I view the foot and ankle as a ‘perfect machine’ that is taken for granted…when it breaks down the effects can be profound. My focus and the focus of my team is to help get you back on your feet doing what you love.”

    More about this expert

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