Shoes and Insoles to Help High Arches

Foot Arch in Mirror

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The right shoes and insoles can give you the right cushioning and support if you have high arches. While many people with a high arch don't have any particular symptoms, others can have foot pain (metatarsalgia). Insoles, cushioned shoes, or custom orthotics can help.

Problems With High Foot Arches

If you have high arches, your foot does not absorb the shock of landing each step when you walk or run as much as a normal arch. The foot arch is a natural shock absorber, flattening as it contacts the ground. But a rigid high arch doesn't flatten enough and less of the foot contacts the ground with each step. As a result, the forces are not balanced and more strain is placed on the ball and heel. Medically, a high-arched foot is known as cavus foot.

People with high arches can be more prone to overuse injuries such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis. They may develop calluses and hammertoes.


A high arch may be an inherited condition, or it may develop at any point in life due to bone or nerve conditions. If you have pain or difficulty walking, running, or standing due to high arches, you should see a doctor to find out what underlying condition may be contributing to it. You may be referred to a podiatrist or orthopedic medicine specialist.

You can generally tell if you have a high arch visually. When you stand, someone looking at your foot from the side can see that there is more than normal space between the bottom of your foot and the floor—it looks hollow. Or, do a wet foot test and set out paper, then wet your foot ,and step on the paper. If you have high arches, there will less area of moisture appearing in your footprint between your heel and the ball of your foot than the average person.

Footwear for High Arches

Because the high arch doesn't absorb as much of the shock with each step, look for walking shoes and running shoes that are well-cushioned and supported. Cushioned athletic shoes have extra shock absorption built in. At a running shoe store, they may be designated as "plus" or labeled as cushioned shoes.

Look for shoes that have more volume, as a high-arched foot needs more space inside the shoe. The staff at a specialty running shoe store will know which shoes have more volume. Otherwise, you will need to try on shoes to find this; it isn't a quality listed when shoe shopping online There is no substitute for finding the best running shoe store in your area and getting fitted by an expert.

The bad news is that many athletic shoes simply don't have true arch support built-in. To get the right support for a high arch, you may need to buy an arch support insole to replace the insole in the shoe.

You can also use lacing techniques to ensure you don't end up with pain or a numb foot from the pressure of the shoelaces. Use a wide-foot lacing technique, skipping every other eyelet to reduce pressure on the top of the foot.

Insoles and Orthotics

Besides cushioned shoes, arch support insoles can help distribute the impact of each step. Off-the-shelf arch supports are often the first solution that people with high arches use for self-treatment. You can find a variety of them in the foot care section of the drug store.

Some athletic shoe stores will custom mold insoles to your feet, which will provide semi-custom arch support for those who need it. Footbalance is one brand, and they also have a model you can warm up at home in your oven to do your own custom molding.

If you want expert advice on finding the right insole, look for a pedorthist or foot and ankle specialty shop such as the Foot Solutions chain. The experts there will perform a foot analysis, measuring the pressures on different parts of your foot when you stand. They can recommend or modify commercial shoe inserts without going the full route of making a custom orthotic. The analysis is usually free.

You can get an automated footmapping at a Dr. Scholls kiosk, which can found at many drug store chains, including Wal-Mart. The Walking Company stores also do footmapping and foot analysis. They have semi-custom 3D3 insoles for different foot types. They also have B.I.O. System sandals and dress shoes with built-in orthotics for different foot types.

Help for Painful High Arches

Preventing foot pain and finding a solution when it develops is important for allowing you to enjoy an active lifestyle. If your feet hurt and you don't get relief from changing your footwear and using insoles, see a doctor or podiatrist. You may discover an underlying condition that is contributing to your pain.

A foot and ankle specialist will be able to provide solutions such as custom orthotics that will be made to correct your specific problem. If foot pain is keeping you from enjoying activities, medical help is a good investment.

A Word From Verywell

Keeping your feet happy is an important part of enjoying exercise and healthy activity. Don't give up hope that there is a solution for your high arches. Work with your specialists and with your local specialty running store to find footwear and insoles that will keep you moving.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Cavus Foot (High-Arched Foot).

  2. Maynou C, Szymanski C, Thiounn A. The adult cavus foot. EFORT Open Rev. 2017;2(5):221-229. doi:10.1302/2058-5241.2.160077

Additional Reading
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. High arch. Updated November 5, 2018.

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.