Best Shoes for High Arches 2019 Reviewed & Rated
Only about 10% of people have high arches, making this distinctive foot shape unusual and little understood. Furthermore, many shoes are not made to accommodate high arches and provide the fit, support, and cushioning that these feet require. While many people have high arches and experience no unusual pain or health consequences, they are often associated with leg and back pain and can impair athletic performance.
The best shoes for high arches are hard to find because they have distinctive needs and unusual considerations for support and cushioning. High-arched feet can also be difficult to fit in a standard shoe because the body of the shoe often binds across the top of the arch, and high arches often cause the toes to need additional room in the shoe to avoid rubbing. We’ve taken a close look at high arches to determine what the best shoes are, and how they support this unusual foot shape.
Last update on 2019-08-20 PST – Details
Best Men’s Shoes for High Arches
Last update on 2019-08-20 PST – Details
What are High Arches?
Most feet have an inner arch that curves upward in the foot, and the degree of this arch can vary quite a lot within the normal range. However, when a person’s foot curves much higher than average, it is called a “high arch.” In more severe cases, the heel may be pulled inward, and the toes may curl into “claw” shapes. High arches are estimated to affect around 10% of the population.
The unusual curve of the arch of the high arched foot is often caused by excess tension and stiffness in the ligaments of the foot and heel, which pull the foot into a C shape. This tension in the connective tissue will not only pull the foot into a high arch but pull the toes and heel together in a way that shifts weight toward the outside of the foot. Because high arches are less common than flat feet, this condition is still not widely understood, and diagnosis and treatment can vary.
Problems Associated With High Arches
High arches in feet often have a root cause in weakness in the muscles of the legs and feet, forcing tendons and ligaments in the foot to contract and over-correct. Sometimes high arches run in families or are a symptom of other medical conditions. Generally speaking, if you are born with high arches and do not experience pain, your arches are within the normal range. Many people with high arches experience no symptoms or problems at all.
However, many people with high arches:
- Have problems finding shoes that fit properly without discomfort and rubbing. High arches can cause the body of most shoes to be too tight across the middle, and curled toes can fit awkwardly in a toe box, or rub and create blisters
- Have stiffer feet that are more prone to aches and fatigue. Because the condition is associated with tightness in the tissues, high-arched feet are less flexible, and therefore less impact-absorbing than normally arched feet. And because the foot is already in a state of tension and contraction, it takes very little exertion to further strain and stress it
- Have weak ankles that sprain easily. If the high arches are due to weak leg muscles, and the foot tends to naturally roll to the outside, it can make a person more susceptible to ankle strains and sprains
- Experience knee and lower back pain. When high arches are caused by weakness in the lower leg muscles, the excess tension in the feet and legs can cause a variety of problems with posture and weight distribution. This unusual strain and tension can cause pain in the upper legs and lower back
- Have reduced sensation in their feet. Unusually high arches are sometimes associated with reduced sensation and sensitivity in the feet. This reduced sensation can be a medical concern and should be monitored carefully
Many people only discover that they have high arches when they begin a more intense exercise program, and discover that their feet inhibit their athletic performance. When they go to see sports or physical therapist, they learn that they have an unusual foot shape with reduced cushioning and impact resistance, which can impair participation in some high-impact or endurance sports. With the right therapies and the right footwear, many can overcome this natural limitation.
If you did not have high arches in early life, but develop exaggerated arches in one or both feet in adulthood, it is a cause for concern and you should consult a doctor. It may be a symptom of a neuromuscular or neurological disorder and should be diagnosed by a professional.
How Do You Know If You Have High Arches?
While a doctor should be seen to diagnose and treat severe pain or medical conditions, there is an easy test that you can do at home to see if you have high arches in your feet.
- Get a piece of cardboard or heavy paper and lay it on the floor
- Get the bottoms of your feet lightly wet
- Step onto the paper, briefly rest your full body weight, then step off and examine your footprint
In a typical adult footprint, you would see an hourglass shape of the outline of the foot, as the arch of the foot doesn’t make contact with the paper. If your footprint has an exaggerated “waist,” with just a narrow strip of footprint down the outside of the foot, you probably have high arches. This distinctive footprint is also why the medical condition of high arches is known as “pes cavus,” which is Latin for “hollow foot.”
For a further test, you can check for the “peek a boo” sign. Stand evenly with your feet flat on the floor, toes comfortably pointed forward. Using a mirror or camera, look directly at the front of your feet. If you can see your heels when looking from the front, you have high arches or supinated feet, or both.
What’s The Difference Between High Arches & Over-Supination?
High arches and over-supination often go together. High arches are visible in the shape and form of the foot, and that shape causes the foot to roll toward the outside (supine) during the action of walking or running. This unusual architecture and body mechanics puts more strain on the outside of the foot, where there is less padding to absorb impact, and can strain the muscles of the ankle and the calves, as weight and impact are distributed toward the outside of the leg.
What to Do About High Arches
If your high arches aren’t due to an underlying medical condition, there are several ways you can take care of your feet and body to reduce the pain, strain, and fatigue of high arches. Here are some of them.
Exercise and Stretching
Exercises and stretches for the foot can help to relax the arch of the foot, easing tension and pain. They can also prevent further progression of any foot problems associated with high arches. Some good exercises for high arches are:
- Sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you; wrap the middle of a towel around your toes of one foot and hold on to the ends of the towel. Flex your foot, and gently pull the ball of your foot toward you using the towel for a deep foot stretch
- Sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, lift just your toes up toward you. Slowly lower your toes one at a time so they “roll” down to rest on the ground, keeping the rest of the foot stable
- Put your fingers between each of your toes. Using your toes, squeeze your fingers as hard as you can for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat.
- Using a tennis ball or foam roller, massage the bottom of your foot and your arch by rolling your foot over the object to stimulate blood flow.
For severe cases, you can see a physical therapist or sports therapist for an exercise regimen designed for your feet.
It is important for people with high arches to wear the proper footwear and to make sure their shoes fit correctly. It can be difficult to fit this unusual foot shape and toe curl, but it’s important for your long-term health and comfort.
Look at Your Feet
Because some people with high arches have reduced foot sensation, and because their toes and feet often rub against shoes in an unusual way, it is important to visually inspect your feet for corns, calluses, and blisters. Often people with high arches rub their feet raw without noticing it.
What to Look For in the Best Shoes or High Arches
People with high arches need shoes that help promote foot health, proper body mechanics, and ease any pain or discomfort they may have in their feet, legs, or back. Here are some of the most important features of shoes for high arches:
High arches put unusual impact pressure and shock on the balls of the feet, and the feet have reduced elasticity to absorb it. Shock absorption in the shoe helps the arches and protects the knees and legs from an impact.
People with high arches can actually erode the natural cushioning on the balls of their feet because they bear too much-prolonged pressure. Cushioning in the shoe helps to protect the resiliency of the feet.
Support and Comfort
Of course, high arches need enough support within the shoe to take some of that pressure off of the structure of the foot itself and transfer stress and pressure to the shoe instead.
Comfort means to support and cushioning to give you a more enjoyable experience when wearing your shoes. Extra padding ensures that your arch is always supported by the shoe.
High arches are often associated with shortened Achilles tendons and weakened calf muscles that actually can make flat shoes uncomfortable. A low heel (2 inches or less) can make shoes more comfortable for people with high arches.
Room in The Toe Box
High arches are associated with curled toes that can rub or wear unusually in shoes. It’s important that the shoes have enough room in the toe box to not rub or compress the toes of a high-arched foot.
People with high arches can have a hard time finding shoes that fit properly. Many traditional shoes won’t provide adequate arch support, may bind or constrict the top of the foot, may compress the toes, and won’t provide adequate cushioning and protection for the balls of the feet.
Because so few people have high arches, most shoes aren’t made to meet their specific needs and won’t properly fit their feet. However, it is particularly important that people wear the proper shoes because the tight tendons and ligaments of the feet can get tighter over time, exaggerating the arch even further.
Other Factors To Consider
- Impact absorbing footbed and sole
- Extra cushioning by the footbed
- Larger or wider heels for stability
- Firm supportive insole
- Shoes constructed to mold the foot
High arches are little understood and can be challenging to live with. The unusual shape, gait, and weight distribution of a high-arched foot can present distinct health challenges for the whole body. However, with care and attention, high arches don’t have to be associated with any pain, weakness, or injury, and a person with high arches can enjoy freedom and comfort.
The right shoes provide the support, cushioning, and impact protection that people with high arches need in order to operate at peak performance. Choosing the best shoes for high arches can be challenging, but the rewards are well worth it.