As a runner with high arches, it can be hard to understand exactly what type of shoes you will need to properly fit your feet.
Runners with high arches should wear running shoes with greater amounts of cushioning and inherent stability to support the arch and keep it from collapsing.
One could almost make the argument that those with flat and neutral arches have it easy because every runner and their mother knows that flat feet usually need stability shoes and neutral feet just need a solid neutral shoe that stays out of the way.
However, high arch feet do not get the same spotlight as the other categories, but that does not make it any less important.
Let’s talk about the anatomy of a high arch foot, where and why you might feel pain, and then the best shoes on the market that will fit your foot.
Neutral or Stability Shoes For High Arches? - The 5 Best Options
Anatomy of High Arch Foot
When we are talking about high arches, we are looking at the Medial Longitudinal Arch, which runs on the inside of your foot and acts as a natural spring and shock absorber.
Above is an illustration of all three general arch types, the high arch (labeled on the right) is lifted just over what a normal arch will look like. Allow us to elaborate.
When a runner is born with a naturally higher arch, then it can lead to some biomechanical problems with stability and energy absorption.
The medial arch is supported by muscles all across the foot and lower leg, these muscles include: Tibialis anterior and posterior, fibularis longus, flexor digitorum longus, flexor hallucis, and the intrinsic foot muscles.
Many have compared a high arch to standing on a tripod, with only three points of contact on the ground, being the heel, the lateral arch, and the balls of your feet.
Having so few points of contact this can overwork many of the muscles in your feet and lower legs.
Do neutral shoes have arch support?
A neutral shoe offers no stabilizing features and simply allows the foot to flex and turn without constraint, whereas a stability shoe or motion-control shoe is built to assist offset excessive pronation, or the inward rolling of a runner's feet after impact with the ground.
This is important because excessive pronation causes increased stress to the foot and ankle joints, potentially leading to injury. Pronation itself isn't bad--it's a natural part of the running stride that helps absorb shock from impact, but too much pronation can be problematic and could increase your risk of injuries like plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis.
Injuries From High Arches
Because a high arch has so few points of contact to the ground, and therefore less force distribution throughout your foot, you can experience pain in the heel, balls of your feet, or the outside of your foot.
These are often the only spots of your foot that will connect with the ground, and these can become overworked pressure points if you do not have adequate footwear on for cushioning and support.
Furthermore, because of force distribution issues, your feet and ankles are essentially fighting to not laterally roll on your ankles for much of your running and walking.
In the running world, when you land and toe off on the outside of your foot, we call it supination (or under pronation). While it gets a bad reputation, pronation is actually the body’s natural way of dispersing force while running and walking.
It allows your foot to land on the lateral heel area and rolls into a balanced toe off between all your toes.
When you have high arches, we often see a runner start to supinate, or never roll into an equally distributed toe off, but rather a push off from the outside of the foot.
This repetitive stress can lead to a multitude of problems, but the most common are achilles tendonitis, stress fractures in the feet and lower legs, and metatarsalgia.
What is neutral arch support?
A Neutral shoe is suited for a runner with high, inflexible arches that do not bend or for one who tends to supinate (walk along the outsides of their feet). The level of cushioning in neutral shoes ranges from low to high, depending on how responsive (low) or soft (high) you want your ride to be.
Can a neutral feet wear a stability shoe?
Neutral runners and those who pronate may wear almost any kind of shoe, but overpronators will be more comfortable in a shoe with enhanced stability. Stability running shoes have unique designs that keep the arch and ankle from rolling too far inward, preventing discomfort and harm. Some shoes have motion control features that reduce pronation even further, but these are generally only needed for severe overpronators.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question, as it depends on several factors such as your foot type and running style. Generally speaking, neutral feet may be able to wear a stability shoe if they have minor pronation issues, but those with more severe pronation may find that a motion-control or even custom orthotic is needed for optimal comfort and support.
Neutral or Stability Shoes For High Arches - The 5 Best Running Shoes For High Arches
With all of the risk factors involved, it's safe to say that you should be wearing the proper footwear to reduce your risk of injury.
As we said above, those with high arches should make sure to get a shoe with cushioning and inherent stability.
These features will help protect your feet and guide your foot into a more biomechanically efficient movement pattern while running and walking.
With that said, let's get started on our list.
1. Brooks Glycerin Running Shoe
- THIS MEN'S SHOE IS FOR: The Glycerin 18 is perfect for runners who think there's no such thing as too much cushioning. The upper enhances comfort by perfectly balancing stretch and structure.
- SUPPORT AND CUSHION: Provides neutral support while offering the maximum amount of cushioning. Ideal for road running, cross training, the gym or wherever you might want to take them! Predecessor: Glycerin 17.
- SUPER-SOFT CUSHIONING: Increased DNA LOFT super-soft cushioning allows for even more extreme softness, without losing responsiveness or durability, while the OrthoLite sockliner provides premium step-in comfort.
- PLUSH FIT: The plush feel of an internal stretch bootie surrounds your foot and moves and expands with your stride. The engineered mesh upper enhances the fit.
- SMOOTH TRANSITIONS: The plush transition zone makes every move from heel to toe feel incredibly soft and smooth.
With plenty of cushioning, the Brooks Glycerin are great running shoes for high arches and they will ease much of the tension put onto your feet while running or walking.
Because of how much foam there is packed in the shoe, it offers inherent stability which will keep you from collapsing or rolling too far on the outside of your ankle and feet.
2. Hoka Clifton
Similar to the Glycerin in many ways, the Hoka Clifton packs in a large amount of cushioning that will keep your high arches from getting too uncomfortable while you run or walk.
Hoka has an original feature in many of its models that provides a bucket for your feet. It sets your foot inside of the midsole foam that keeps you more locked in, which will keep you from supinating too much.
To add a little cherry on top, it is light enough to get in some slightly faster running sessions if you still want to train at the highest level, but with an extra layer of protection.
3. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V11
- Fresh Foam midsole cushioning is precision engineered to deliver an ultra-cushioned, lightweight ride
- Bootie upper construction hugs your foot for a snug, supportive fit
- Synthetic/mesh upper
- Ortholite sockliner for comfort
- Ultra Heel design hugs the back of the foot for a snug, supportive fit
Practically built for supinators, the New Balance 1080 is a lightweight, maximally cushioned shoe that holds your feet in nicely with a plush and liberal amount of bounty fresh foam.
To be honest, there may not be a ton of inherent stability features built into this shoe, but many high arch feet notice that the foam fills in their arch comfortably enough to stop any of the usual pressure or pain they feel while running and walking.
This is a great option if you are looking for a softer shoe that does not interfere with your stride quite as much, but will still add some quality of life for your high arching feet.
4. Asics Gel-Nimbus
- Engineered Mesh Upper: Multi-directional mesh material improves ventilation and stability.
- Engineered mesh upper improves breathability:
- GEL Technology: Cushioning provides excellent shock absorption
- GEL technology cushioning: Provides excellent shock absorption
- Trusstic System technology: Reduces the weight of the sole unit while retaining the structural integrity of the shoe.
With lots of Gel cushioning and a sturdy upper, the Asics Gel Nimbus is going to give a high arch runner a big bang for buck. It is quite stable, and will keep your foot from supinating.
Furthermore, you will also notice that the cushioning will fill in your high arch without feeling too overbearing or overcorrective.
Side note, for runners with high arches, we seek to fill in the runner's high arch, but without restricting any amount of pronation that might occur during the stride.
This is because we want a supinator to maintain any sort of inward roll that does naturally. We fill in a high arch for comfort, not correction.
The Nimbus also comes with a strong heel counter and a great lacing system to keep your foot locked in for whatever you may throw at it. To put it simply, you can walk or sprint comfortably in this shoe.
I've compared Glycerin to Gel-Nimbus, so if you are interested in digging into a little more here you go.
5. Hoka Bondi
We saved the best for last.
With the plushest, strongest, and most comfortable shoe on the market, the Hoka Bondi is going to bring your high arches to new levels of quality of life.
Hoka provides a soft, plush, yet dense midsole foam that will fill in your arch, provide plenty of shock absorption, and roll you forward to your next running or walking stride.
We see the bucket shoe method implemented with the Bondi as well, which means there is plenty of inherent stability as well.
Ive spent time comparing Hoka vs Brooks to show the impact the cushioning has on your arches.
The shoe’s platform is ridiculously wide, which once again enhances your stability and will help decrease the chances of a lateral ankle sprain even more.
Safe to say, if you really want to seek out the highest end of comfort, then start your journey by picking up a pair of the Hoka One One Bondi.
To summarize the key points for your convenience:
- High arches should seek out cushioned shoe with inherent stability features
- High arches can cause supination (under pronation)
- Increased risk of lateral ankle sprain, achilles tendonitis, stress fractures in feet and lower legs, and inflammation in the balls of the feet
- Understanding your arch type is important for injury prevention and quality of life
Hopefully you feel empowered by your newfound knowledge about your high arches and are ready to take action to take back control to run and walk pain free.
Hi, Jeremy Here,
I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journey. About Me.
Last update on 2023-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API