My name is Sue Berk Koch. I am a children’s author. Welcome.

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Why Do We Have Arches : Foot Arches or the St. Louis Arch?

The other day, one of the boys asked about arches, as in why do we have them. I did some research on feet and arches.

It turns out that the design of our feet allows for balance and posture but mostly for dynamic load distribution. This is one reason why we can switch gaits.

Our arches act as a shock absorber to reduce impact on ankles, knees, and backs. Since we are bipedal, it makes sense to lessen the force exerted by our bodies onto our feet by having arches. Bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles all contribute to spread the load but it is the tendons that actually form the foot arch.Think of it like an arched roof, in which the weight is supported at the two ends. People who lack arches (aka flat feet) often have back problems. Flat roofs have their cons, such as not handling heavy loads of snow.

Plantar aponeurosis acting as tie-beam

When I proudly mentioned this to my son, he said, ‘No I meant the St. Louis Arch.’


The St. Louis Arch or Gateway Arch is 630-feet (192 meters) tall and 630 feet across. It cost $13 million to build. It was erected to commemorate President Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and celebrate St. Louis’ role in the westward expansion that followed. As of 2010, it is the world’s tallest arch and sits on the west bank of the Mississippi River.


Image credit: “Gateway Arch”