How Footprints and Wear Patterns Can Solve Mysteries

There are times when being a podiatrist is like being a detective. When a patient comes in to see us complaining of foot pain, we interview them and examine their feet for clues. Mysteries can sometimes be solved by compiling evidence in a couple different areas: your footprint and the wear patterns in your shoes.

Evidence: your footprints

The way your foot hits the ground gives us information about your arch. You can conduct your own investigation into what type of arch you have with this simple test:

  • Wet the bottoms of your feet.
  • Step onto a dry paper towel.
  • Examine your footprints: if you see most of a foot with very little or no dry space where your arch is, you have a low arch or no arch – also known as flat feet. If there’s a marked curve in your footprint, with hardly any wet area then much of your arch isn’t hitting the ground – you have high arches. Anything in between will indicate a normal arch.

Evidence: wear patterns

A close examination of your shoes can also clue us into problems with the way you’re walking. For example, everybody’s foot “pronates,” meaning their foot rolls inward, even as part of a normal gait. What’s not normal is if you overpronate – your foot rolls inward too much – or if you supinate – your foot has an excessive outward rolling motion. We can inspect the soles on your shoes to see if there’s more wear and tear in certain areas that point to a problem with pronation.


Anatomical clues like the way your arch is structured and the way you walk and wear out your shoes can help explain foot pain. Flat arches or overpronation are the suspects behind a host of foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and bunions. Dr. Craig Frey and Dr. Megan L. Oltmann at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland are board-certified podiatrists who have the experience to sort through the evidence with a professional eye and solve the mystery of your foot pain with expert treatment. Call us at (440) 903-1041 or make an appointment to see us at our office in Solon, Ohio.