If you have high arches, you might have trouble finding the perfect pair of shoes. You need support, but you also want to look fashionable. Plastic flip flops might not be your jam. However, there are plenty of shoes that are comfortable and fit your feet properly. You need to know what to look for.
People with high arches need to take extra care when choosing walking shoes, running shoes, and everyday footwear.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall Choice: New Balance Classics
- Best Premium Product: Aravon Women’s Maya/Dunham Men’s Blair Slip-Ons
- Best Value Product: Saucony Echelon LE2 W
What Are High Arches?
The arch of your foot is called the pes cavus. It’s the area that runs between the ball and heel on the inner edge of the sole of your foot. If this area is more curved than average, you may have high arches, otherwise known as cavus foot. More people have flat or standard feet than high arches.
High arches don’t just affect the way that your feet look. They may be painful. You have more pressure on the ball and heel of the foot, which can cause discomfort when you’re standing or walking. Not everyone experiences pain, though.
Some other symptoms of high arches include:
- Hammertoes – When your toes are bent downward, curling toward the underside of your feet
- Claw toes – Toes that are clenched tightly, like a fist
- Calluses – Tough areas of skin on the ball or heel of the foot that develop from the increased pressure
- Instability – Heels may be turned toward the center of your body, increasing the risk of ankle sprains
- Foot drop – Muscle weakness that makes it difficult to lift the foot when stepping forward
- Arch inflexibility – Your arches may feel tight and rigid
- Tight Achilles tendon – You might not have as much flexibility in your ankles as other people
What Causes High Arches?
Some people are born with high arches. They may run in families. However, a bone or neurological condition can cause high arches. Some people with the following physical ailments have high arches:
- Cerebral palsy
- Charcot-Marie-tooth syndrome
- Muscular dystrophy
- Spina bifida
- Spinal cord tumors
You might know that you have high arches because you experience pain and soreness in the soles of your feet, especially when you’re not wearing supportive shoes. You can also check your footprint to detect high arches.
To do this, place a pan of water near a concrete surface, such as a sidewalk. You can also place brown paper next to the pan. Step into the pan to wet your feet. Then, step on the paper or the sidewalk.
Look at the shape of your footprint. If approximately half of the width of the arch area is filled in with water, you probably have normal feet. If most of the width of the arch area is filled in, you might have flat feet or low arches.
People with a high arch might not see a connection at all between the ball and heel of the foot. A thin band may connect these areas.
Problems Caused by High Arches
If you have high arches, you may be more likely to develop specific foot and leg problems than other people. For example, you are more prone to plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a ligament that runs along the bottom of your foot. It connects the heel to the ball of the foot.
The plantar fascia supports your arches. It helps you walk and absorbs shock.
Because the plantar fascia is at work all day, especially if you’re on your feet a lot, it can become damaged, inflamed or torn. This can make you feel pain at the bottom of the heel or mid-foot region. The pain may feel dull or sharp. Some people describe it as a burning sensation.
The pain often gets worse just after performing a prolonged activity. It can also make your feet feel stiff when you walk after long periods of sitting or lying down.
High arches can also cause metatarsalgia, which is inflammation of the ball of your foot. Metatarsalgia pain often comes on gradually. It gets worse when you move around and diminishes with rest.
If you have metatarsalgia, you may feel as though you have stones in your shoe. The ball of your foot may radiate with sharp, shooting pain. Your toes could even become numb. Some people experience a pins-and-needle feeling in the ball of their foot or their toes.
Do your toes curl into strange shapes? If they do, you might have high arches. People with this condition are more likely than others to develop hammertoes and claw toes.
Hammertoes are a deformity in the second, third, and fourth toes. The toes bend more than usual at the center joint. Over time, the toes can become inflexible, and walking or wearing any shoe may be uncomfortable. Some people require surgery for hammertoes.
Claw toes are similar to hammertoes. People with this condition have toes that curl downward. The tips press against the soles of the shoes. Both hammertoes and claw toes can make it tough to find shoes that fit correctly. The toe box may always feel tight and restrictive.
High arches don’t just lead to pain in the feet. If you make up for the discomfort by changing your gait, you might develop aches in your legs, hips, and back. Walking with poor posture can affect your entire body.
Do You Need Special Shoes for High Arches?
If you have high arches, your feet don’t absorb shock properly when you run. That’s because less of the surface area of your foot touches the ground with each step. The areas that do connect with the floor have to take the brunt of every impact.
You don’t necessarily need custom shoes or orthotics if you have high arches. However, you should purchase the right kind of shoes to address your needs.
Shoes for high arches should have a rigid shank. That means that you shouldn’t be able to flex them so much that you bend them in half.
Your shoes should have excellent arch support. Reinforced arches help to position your foot correctly as you walk and run. They also prevent your arches from collapsing.
If your arches collapse, they can put a strain on the muscles and tendons in the foot. These tissues can even tear, causing additional pain. Therefore, your shoes should be well-cushioned along the midsole. Extra cushioning in the ball and heel also absorbs shock.
Shoes for high arches should have plenty of padding around the heel. It’s essential to hold this area stable because it’s prone to becoming wobbly. The instability in your heel can make you more likely to roll or sprain your ankle. If your heel isn’t stable, consider purchasing different shoes or using heel pads to create the perfect fit.
Most people with high arches prefer shoes with a low heel. Some elevation can be comfortable compared with a flat shoe.
Many podiatrists report that high heels aren’t ideal shoes for anyone. However, people with high arches may be comfortable in high heels. These shoes often have a rounded arch that supports the natural shape of your foot.
If you must wear high heels, make sure that the center of your foot sits in the appropriate area. The shoes shouldn’t allow your foot to slide downward. If it does, you won’t get adequate arch support.
If you have pain in the ball of your foot or issues with your toes, high heels may not be the best shoes for you. They often cram your toes together, causing further damage and pain. You’ll put more pressure on the ball of your foot than usual, which can exacerbate any discomfort that you already have.
Plus, high heels can increase instability. People with high arches who want to wear high heels should look for a broad outsole. If the bottom of the shoe looks like an hourglass, it might not provide enough support.
Any type of shoe that you select for high arches should have a wide toe box. This feature allows your toes to spread and can make your shoes more comfortable.
Types of Running Shoes for High Arches
When you shop for running shoes, you might come across some types that are called “neutral shoes.” Others are called “stability shoes.” You might be confused by this. If people with high arches are prone to rolling their ankles and need more stability, shouldn’t they wear stability shoes?
Stability shoes are designed for people with low arches. If you have high arches, you should generally look for a neutral shoe.
People with low arches tend to roll their feet inward. In other words, they put more pressure on the inside of their foot than the outside when they walk. They could use shoes with more arch support to roll their feet back in the other direction.
On the other hand, people with high arches tend to supinate. Their heels tilt inward, and their ankles roll out. They might exert more pressure on the outer edge of the foot as they walk. Therefore, they don’t need strong support to keep their foot in place.
In fact, they could use a little more lift on the outer edge of the shoe. But they still require enough support in the inner edge of the shoe to hold up their own high arches. Therefore, neutral running shoes are usually the best option for high arches.
Best Shoes for High Arches: Reviewed
These sneakers are casual, easy to wear, and great for everyday activities. They come in a wide variety of colors and styles. Depending on the type that you choose, these shoes may have a nubuck, suede, or leather upper. They also have a retro flair and a minimalist edge.
But let’s talk about something other than their appearance. How are these shoes helpful for people with high arches?
Vionic makes every shoe with hidden biomechanical technology. They include cushioning in the ball of the toe, a stabilizing, deep heel seat, and a contoured orthotic footbed that’s designed by podiatrists.
Because these shoes slip on, you don’t have to fuss with laces. They’re designed for a snug fit that isn’t too high or too low around the ankle. Therefore, you’ll have plenty of stability when you’re wearing them. There is not much of a heel drop, though, which could cause tightness in your Achilles if that’s already an issue for you.
Because these shoes have such a high level of orthotic support, the manufacturer recommends breaking them in gradually. Wear them for short periods of time at first. Extend the wear time by a few minutes each day. Within a few weeks, you should feel comfortable in these shoes.
These aren’t the best shoes for wearing in wet weather. They’re high-quality leather, and they can become damaged if they get too soggy. However, they’re perfect for general use. Just swap them out for rain boots with insoles in torrential conditions. Still, in most rainy weather, these shoes should do a fine job of keeping your feet dry.
- Supportive around the arch
- Comes with a removable insole
- Snug elastic around the middle of the foot enhances support and comfort
- Breathable design keeps your feet cool
- Might be too narrow for wide feet
- Narrow toe bed
- Difficult to slip on
ASICS is a well-known brand of running shoes, and these sneakers are perfect for people with high arches. They have plenty of cushioning and shock absorption, and they’re high enough around the ankle to provide stability without compromising flexibility.
The sides of the shoes feel as though they have extra reinforcement to hold your foot in the right place. The supportive heel collar also keeps your foot stable.
These shoes evenly distribute your weight so that you’re not directing all of the pressure from impact to your heel or the ball of your foot.
The GEL Cushioning System in the rear of the foot protects your heel from powerful impacts. It also allows you to roll your foot naturally from heel to toe with every step. Encouraging the proper gait can help you maintain excellent posture while you’re running. It also minimizes the impact on other joints, such as your ankles and knees.
Because these shoes are well-ventilated, they’ll help keep your feet dry. If you sweat, your foot may shift inside the shoe, placing it in a non-optimal position for arch support. The airflow can prevent that from happening.
If your shoes do get stinky, you can remove the insole to clean it. The detachable sock liner also leaves room for you to add an orthotic insole, if necessary.
The outsole is rugged and has a grippy texture. It’s ideal for wearing on flat ground or trails. High-abrasion rubber is placed on important parts of the outsole for added durability. If you drag your feet or scuff the bottoms of these shoes, they’ll still last for a long time.
- Lots of cushioning
- Good shock absorption
- Strong, durable build
- Not very waterproof
- Some people find the gel cushioning to be too firm
The Saucony Echelon LE2 W combines high quality, affordability, and support. It’s flexible enough to protect your gait while providing enough cushion to absorb shock and hold your arch in the right place.
One of the standout features of this shoe is the full-length power grid cushioning system. This keeps the foot in the center of the midsole and prevents it from rolling toward the left or right. It also redistributes pressure throughout the bottom of the foot to prevent sore spots.
The power grid helps improve stability, which is crucial for people with high arches. When you know that your foot placement is secure, you’re less likely to sprain your ankle.
The cushioning is also responsive, which is vital for helping you maintain your stride. Your foot rolls naturally from the back to the front so that you can push off as easily as you land.
The shoe is ideal for any weather or conditions. You can use it as a walking shoe or everyday footwear. The traction is grippy and reliable, even in wet weather. Because the uppers are made from 100% leather, they protect your feet from wetness. They’re naturally water-resistant.
However, they could be more breathable. The lack of mesh means that your feet don’t get a lot of ventilation. If you have sweaty feet, you’ll need to use appropriate socks that wick away moisture. You don’t want your feet to slide around inside of the shoes.
Some sneakers designed for high arches are clunky. These are streamlined and sleek, though.
- Perfect for all weather conditions
- Power grid cushioning system absorbs shock
- Roomy enough to accommodate insoles
- Shoes are sleek and not clunky
- Toe grid is not extremely wide
- Shoes can become hot because they’re not well-ventilated
- Might get loose as they break in
Who said that people with high arches can’t wear sandals? As long as your open-toed shoes support your feet well, you might be able to wear them. Remember that the shoes must fit you securely and comfortably. What works for someone else with high arches won’t necessarily be ideal for you.
However, Birkenstocks have many benefits for people with high arches. Much of the magic is in the Birkenstock footbed. The bottom of the shoe is made of cork and latex. These materials absorb shock while providing a firm surface on which to walk. They’re covered with soft suede, which feels good against the sole of your bare feet.
The footbed needs some time to mold to the shape of your feet. Right out of the box, you’ll see that there’s a cup for the heel and some indentations for your toes and the balls of your feet. However, the rest of the footbed is relatively flat.
Over time, your foot will create customized indentations that make these shoes even more comfortable to wear. They’ll naturally support your high arches. But, you have to take plenty of time to break them in.
The EVA foam provides solid cushioning. However, some people think that these shoes are too firm. Others find them especially comfortable for relieving symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
People with other symptoms of high arches usually find many benefits in Birkenstocks. For example, the roomy toe box doesn’t put any pressure on calluses or bunions. There’s plenty of room for claw toes or hammertoes to stretch out.
The raised ridge between the ball of the feet and the toes helps to hold your foot in place. Because these shoes are also relatively flat, they’re very stable. They have a textured sole that provides grip so that you don’t have to worry about falling on slippery surfaces.
Two straps with adjustable buckles hold your feet in place. You can make them as tight or loose as you want. Sometimes, people with high arches have trouble fitting into sandals because the top of the foot feels tight against the straps. You can loosen Birkenstocks to tailor the fit to your needs.
- The footbed molds to the shape of your foot
- Offers great arch support
- Ideal for foot pain associated with high arches
- The shoes may be too wide for some people
- Might be too firm
- Takes some time to break in
Some of the best sandals for people with high arches are the Vionic Amber. These women’s sandals are vegan. They’re designed to look like snakeskin or cork and have two jewels fitted into the top for extra pizzazz.
Like all Vionic shoes, these are designed by a podiatrist. This shoe has also been awarded the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association. It reduces pronation and keeps your feet straight.
These shoes can help relieve the heel, knee, and back pain that is often associated with high arches. They also have an extremely comfortable footbed and deep heel cup for stability.
These shoes provide additional stability through four points of adjustability. You can make them work for you by giving you a perfect fit every time you wear them.
One strap is a slingback. It goes around the back of your heel to keep your foot in the shoe. This is helpful for people who find that their heels raise up when they walk in sandals. It also prevents you from kicking off the shoes by mistake.
The other three straps cross the top of your foot. Each one adjusts via hook-and-loop closure.
To make these sandals even more versatile, you can remove the vertical strap that holds the jewels. Do this for added comfort or to make a fashion statement and feel like you’re wearing a completely different pair of shoes.
These sandals are comfortable against the sole of your foot. The footbed is lined with microfiber, which dries quickly and feels like a whisper against your skin. When your feet hurt, soothing them with luxurious materials can help.
- Lightweight and flexible
- Patterned tread offers stability
- Comfortable and supportive
- Easy to clean with a damp cloth
- Sole is cushioned but not too thick
- Longer toe area may not be ideal for people with hammertoes
- Hook-and-loop closure can wear out over time
These shoes complement many different styles. They’re neutral enough to wear for casual purposes every day, and they come in a wide variety of styles and colors.
They don’t have the intense arch support that some other sneakers have. But some people with high arches don’t need a lot of support in that area. If you’ve found shoes with extra arch support to be uncomfortable or painful, you might want to try these, which have moderate arch support.
Where these shoes shine is in the padding. There’s a lot of cushioning around the ankles, providing stability and reducing the risk of sprains. The shoes are also extremely plush in the midsole. The cushioning here makes up for the lack of extreme arch support. Your feet will sink into the footbed, feeling naturally supported.
One thing to know about these sneakers is that they run small. You might need to size up. However, because they’re not true to size, the width might not fit correctly if you buy a size that’s bigger than what you’re used to.
The width is generally true to size. These shoes can accommodate people with wide feet, especially if you go up a size.
The sneakers are deep enough to accommodate a custom insole. Therefore, you can adapt the feel and support. An insole can add extra shock absorption if you’re working out in the shoes.
These aren’t the perfect shoes for running long distances or doing high-impact workouts. However, you can use them for light exercise. If you stand on your feet throughout the day or walk to work, you might find these shoes to be perfect for you. They’re an excellent all-around shoe for high arches.
- Moderate arch support
- Lots of padding below foot and around ankles
- Comfortable for people with plantar fasciitis
- Neutral but sporty style
- May not offer enough arch support for everyone
- Run small
The Keen Venice H2 comes in women’s and men’s options. These water sandals are ideal for wearing in a variety of weather conditions. They’re wonderful for walking on the street or trail. They also work well on sandy terrain or while traversing rivers and creeks.
But if you’re not an outdoorsy type, you can wear these around town in the summer. They offer plenty of airflow to keep your feet cool. They’ll also reduce sweat by ventilating your feet.
The polyester webbing, combined with a suede upper, make these shoes extremely durable. Although many types of suede shoes aren’t supposed to get wet, you don’t have to worry about moisture with Keens. They’re designed to be rugged.
The hydrophobic mesh lining does a good job of keeping these sandals water-resistant. It’s also soft against your skin. Plus, the lining is treated with a microbe shield that prevents mold, mildew, and bacteria from building up.
If your feet tend to slide around in sandals, you might want to try the Keens on for size. They have bungee straps that lace up the tops of the shoes to allow you to get a comfortable, snug fit.
The metatomical EVA footbed provides natural support for the shape of your foot. It has been molded with natural contours that mold to your foot over time. These shoes also have excellent arch support, especially for sandals.
The outsole features a superior grip. It has multi-directional lugs, which keep you sturdy on any terrain, including wet surfaces. The toe bumper protects your feet from stones and branches. It’s relatively roomy, but it could be uncomfortable if you have rigid toes.
- Easy to clean in the washing machine
- Offer plenty of ventilation
- Available in women’s and men’s sizes
- Closed toe box can be uncomfortable for people with toe issues
- Narrow heels
While many of the best shoes for high arches are sporty styles, sometimes you need to look nice. If you spend 40 hours a week at work, you’ll need shoes that feel good on your feet. Aravon Women’s Maya is perfect for the office and other events that require more formal shoes.
The shoes are 100% leather with a synthetic sole. They’re breathable and supple and feel good on your feet.
The footbed is cushioned and comfortable. It features Primalux comfort cushions and is molded to support the natural position of your feet.
These shoes have subtle heels, which some people with high arches find more comfortable than flat shoes. The front platform is 0.5 inches, and the heel height is 2 inches.
The toe and heel of this shoe envelop your foot completely, keeping it in place while you walk. To make the footwear even more secure, there’s a strap that goes around the ankle. It’s adjustable and secures via hook-and-loop closure. That makes putting the shoes on and removing them easy.
These shoes are not totally enclosed. The center of your foot is open to the air. That’s ideal for people with high arches. Nothing will press on the top of your foot. However, you might find that the entrance to the toe box is a little tight until you have time to break in the shoes.
The rubber sole gives you good traction. You’ll be secure in these shoes whether you’re walking to work, at a party or going out dancing. Some people say that they feel as though they’re walking on clouds.
- Professional style
- Heel provides slight lift without being too high
- Roomy toe box
- Comes in medium and wide widths
- May be too wide for some people
- Toes may slide down into the toe box due to the slope
These are another pair of running shoes that offer people with high arches a pain-free running experience. HOKA One One sneakers make you feel like you’re running on marshmallows. The rubber sole is light and flexible. It’s also sturdy and durable.
One thing to note is that the sole of this shoe is extremely thick. It might take some getting used to at first. That’s because it contains so much padding and shock absorption.
However, unlike previous versions of the Hoka One One, the Clifton 4 doesn’t look as though you’re walking on a mattress. There is more colorful paint toward the top of the sides of the soles. Therefore, it looks as though the upper extends closer to the ground.
Even though these shoes have such thick padding, they’re light and quick. If you’re a runner, you will find these shoes to be responsive. They roll your foot forward and allow you to take off quickly with every step.
These running shoes are also very stiff. The lack of flexibility provides excellent support for your midsole and arch. Still, you shouldn’t have trouble running with your usual gait.
If you’re a long-distance runner who feels impaired by high arches, you might want to try these shoes. Many people who have had foot or joint pain while running find that their symptoms diminish when they wear Hoka One One Clifton 4 sneakers.
Plus, these sneakers will last a while. They’re incredibly durable. The tread pattern on the bottom of the soles is designed to increase the longevity of this footwear.
- Thick padding is soft underfoot
- Incredible shock absorption
- Plenty of room in the toe box
- The high midfoot may put pressure on your instep
- Some people don’t like the stiffness of the shoe
Men who are tired of wearing uncomfortable dress shoes can remain stylish at work or elegant functions. Dunham men’s Blair slip-on shoes are made of 100% leather. The upper is breathable due to the natural pores in the leather.
They also have a comfortable drop in the sole. The 0.25-inch platform raises the foot off of the ground more than some dress shoes. These have a slight heel that allows you to walk smoothly and naturally.
The EVA footbed is plush and comfortable. It’s not too heavy, which means that you can maintain a spring in your step. However, the cushion allows your foot to sink down while it supports your insole. It’s also lightweight and won’t weigh you down.
Whether you have wide or narrow feet, you have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to size. This footwear comes in regular, wide, and extra-wide widths to accommodate various foot sizes.
You don’t have to worry about tying your laces; these shoes slip on and off easily. They have double elastic gore panels in the upper to accommodate your feet. However, someone with extremely high arches may find that they fit too tightly. There’s no way to loosen them if that’s the case.
The ankle comes up high, which is good for stability. However, the material is somewhat stiff. The placement of the back of the shoe may cause you to develop blisters or calluses on your Achilles heel.
They also come with a removable Ortholite insert, which improves comfort and reduces odors. If you want to insert your own insole, you can remove the one that comes with this shoe and replace it.
- Comes in several widths
- Come with a removable Ortholite insert
- Roomy toe box
- Slip-on style makes adjusting the size impossible
- Heel may be stiff and cause blisters
The best overall shoes for high arches are the New Balance Classics. These shoes have moderate support, which is perfect for most people with tall insoles. They accommodate many foot shapes and gaits and have plenty of cushioning. Plus, the neutral style fits with most sporty or casual styles.
If you’re looking for a premium product, you might want to choose a dress shoe that you can wear in various situations. The Aravon Women’s Maya shoes look great with pants or dresses and are ideal for work or elegant functions.
The Dunham Men’s Blair Slip-Ons come in various widths to accommodate different sizes of feet. Plus, they have plenty of cushion and support for people with high arches.
Finally, if you’re looking for a budget option that you can wear in many situations, the Saucony Echelon LE2 W sneakers may be perfect for you. They’re a neutral shoe that redistributes pressure points as you run. They’re also water-resistant and can be worn in many kinds of weather.
If you have high arches, you’ll likely need a variety of versatile shoes that you can wear in various circumstances. Any of the shoes for high arches that we reviewed here will serve you well. The best way to know for sure if the footwear works for you is to try it.