By Noel Paine
“One shoe can change your life.” — Cinderella.
Okay, so your next running shoe purchase may not change your life but I have many people walk away after finding the right shoe – super happy! I have even seen some people who, well the right shoe really affected their lives, their comfort and their ability to do things, so maybe they can change your life!
So many of us are aware of the term flat feet or hear people talk about flat feet, overpronation and maybe fallen arches. A flat foot is called pas planus; a high-arched foot is called pes cavus. The Orthopaedic Associates website says, “High arched feet, also known as cavus feet, is a disorder characterized by an abnormally high arch in the foot (as the name implies).” From what they say and what I know and experienced with feet and shoes; the real high-arched foot is quite rare compared to the flatter foot.
Most feet can be categorized into three foot types, neutral, flat or high-arched.
So How Do You Know if you Have a High Arch?
A perfect foot would have an arch that works as a shock absorber for the foot and flexes to take the impact of walking and running and allows the foot to work efficiently. You pronate or your arch flexes to cushion the blow of your foot on the ground. An arch that is weak or too flexible collapses and will roll in (overpronate). So how to know what kind of foot you have?
What Does Mayo Clinic Say?
A Mayo Clinic online article helps and lays out some tips on how to categorize your arch/foot. They use the same method I read about years ago, the wet foot on concrete test. A flatter foot will make more contact with the ground and leave a solid footprint, a neutral foot will have contact at the heel and forefoot and a connection between them. A high arches foot will only leave a wet spot at the heel and forefoot, with the middle of the foot not touching at all.
My Own Experience
From my years fitting people for running shoes, for orthotics and from my years as a runner, the real high arched foot is pretty uncommon. Some people have a higher arch but a real high arched foot tends to be very rigid, with a high instep and sometimes pulls the rest of the foot up to even make the foot a bit shorter than you would expect.
So, What if I do Have High Arches?
It means your foot is more rigid and does not absorb shock as well as it should. Your foot may have a high instep, meaning you may need a shoe with more volume/height in the middle of the shoe and you may be prone to impact-related injuries like stress fractures. It means you need the right kind of shoe to help your foot.
What Kind of Shoes do I Need?
There are no shoes specifically designed for high-arched feet, but there is a category of shoes to try out and certain things to look for.
Because a high-arched foot is a poor shock absorber and sometimes has a high instep you should look for:
Remember there is no one perfect shoe for everyone, everyone has a different foot and it must also fit snugly, not tight and have some room at the toe.
Help in Figuring Your Arch
If you have concerns or questions about your foot, find a Podiatrist, Pedorthist or knowledgeable person at your local running shoe shop like Black Toe Running in Toronto, Ontario.
Here are some potential shoes to check out for a high-arched foot.
6 Great Running Shoes for High Arches
1. New Balance 990v6
“Happiness is pushing your limits and watching them back down.” – New Balance
Okay, so the first shoe looks a little old school, and well it is. This shoe has been around for a long time with New Balance and has not really changed. I mean this shoe is probably older than some of you readers. Born in 1982, it became a popular shoe for those looking for a solid, stable, deep cushioned shoe. It worked for heavier runners looking for a tame-colored running shoe and those who had an orthotic and needed some extra room and depth.
The shoe looks the same now as I remember and still comes in the myriad of widths it used to come in. It still has the solid durable outsole, a mesh and pigskin upper with a New Balance ENCAP midsole cushion that combines lightweight foam with a durable polyurethane rim that holds you steady. The company also states that a good portion of the shoe comes from US materials and work. It’s not cheap but worth it on the right foot!
Old school look, stable cushioning and lots of room that might make it an option for someone with a high arch.
2. New Balance 1080v12
Ok more color and one of New Balance’s really well cushioned shoes. They are mid-weight, and the website does not mention their drop but would guess at about 10mm. I chose this shoe as a potential candidate for people with high arches because of the added cushion that a more rigid foot needs. The rockered heel and forefoot may also help your foot roll easier as you run.
Depending on how high your arch is and how high your instep is, this could be a fit but you will need to try it on. Every foot is different.
The shoes has a Fresh Foam X midsole, a Hypoknit upper that is supposed to give and adapt to more feet of stretch and a blown rubber outsole at the forefoot with more responsive feel as you run.
Good cushioned shoe, but those with a really high instep may need to see if they can get into this shoe with the knitted upper and snug fit.
*Oh and I should mention that New Balance in general usually has shoes in larger sizes 14 -17 in some of their models which is great for those having trouble finding shoes for their larger feet.
3. Asics Gel Nimbus 25
“Running releases more than just sweat.” – Asics
Another shoe that has been around for a while. The 25th version of Asics best cushioned shoe. I’ve slipped on quite a few versions of this shoe and its plump and well cushioned. The look has changed slightly but its still recognizable. The amount of cushioning is why I have chosen this for high arched runners, and I think this model may not be as snug as some of its predecessors.
Engineered knit upper wraps the foot with a soft feel while improving breathability
At least 75% of the shoe's main upper material is made with recycled content to reduce waste and carbon emissions
The Nimbus adds PureGEL™ to help absorb shock to its FF BLAST™ PLUS ECO cushioning and AHAR® outsole rubber gives the shoe good durability.
I like this shoe when it fits, which sometimes can be narrow at the forefoot. It is exceptionally cushioned.
4. Nike Invincible 3
“There is no ‘Y’ in running. Believe in the run.” – Nike
Nike says this shoe has a maximum amount of cushioning while also providing some support. If your foot fits into this, it could help cushion your rigid, high arched foot from the impact of running.
The shoe has ZoomX cushioning shaped like a rocker and higher foam heights that the company says will give you ultimate cushioning upon ground contact and an even softer underfoot feel. It could all be marketing, but it does look well-cushioned! I have not tried this shoe on, but the max cushioned shoes for each brand should be a consideration for this foot type.
A well cushioned option from Nike to try!
5. HOKA Bondi 8
“Time to Fly!” – HOKA
HOKA really makes some great cushioned shoes and I have worn a few models like the Clifton, Clayton and Carbon X. The shoes provide a thick layer of cushion between you and the road without sacrificing weight. The interior of the shoes I have tried are relatively roomy as well which might fit a higher instep/arch.
HOKA does not really add anything too their midsole foam but its light and seems to work on its own. Outsole rubber is Durabrasion rubber for durability, there is pull tab to help pull it on and apparently the shoe is Vegan (I think what its made of, not what the shoe prefers to eat).
The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) also gives this shoe a Seal of Acceptance that recognizes products that have been found beneficial to foot health.
I like HOKA shoes and think this would be a really well cushioned, light feeling shoe that might help someone with high arches. I like the way they look too!
6. Saucony Triumph 20
“Find your strong” – Saucony (pronounced “ssah-koh-nee.”)
This is one of Saucony’s best cushioned neutral shoes. A high arched foot needs help with cushion or you really need to replace your shoes before they are worn out or you risk injury.
The Triumph which was around when I was fitting shoes, uses PWRRUN+ foam, has anice rocker to it (curve at toe and heel) that many running shoes seem to have now (helps you roll from heel to toe) and a durable outsole rubber that will help last over your training miles.
This shoe like the HOKA I reviewed has been given the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Approval that recognizes products that have been found beneficial to foot health. This shoe is also apparently vegan and contains recycled materials.
With every shoe make sure to try it on and make sure its comfortable, there should be no “break-in period.
All these shoes are great examples of cushioned running shoes that may work for people that have high arches. If you cannot find these shoes – look at the cushioned options your local stores may have. Look for good cushion, with firmer and more stable cushioning the heavier you are.
How Should the Shoe Fit?
Ensure the shoe fits well. Snug, not tight and not sloppy and that you have some room at the toe when you are standing. If you have a high instep with your high arch, make sure there is a good foot through the instep, and nothing is top on the top of your foot.
*If you have a shoe that almost fits but not quite – perhaps adjusting the lacing can help – check this online piece about lacing options for people with a high instep (common with high arches).
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