If you’re a runner with high arches, then there are even odds that you’ve been running in the wrong shoes for some time now. And that’s a great way to set yourself up for injuries.
When someone has a high arch, their foot tends to be more rigid in nature because of the anatomy that’s holding up their arch. Miguel Cunha, MD, podiatrist and founder of Gotham Footcare in New York City, tells Spy that high arch runners are vulnerable to a variety of foot injuries.
“If you have high arches, you’ll tend to develop pain in three areas: the heel, the ball of the foot, and the outside of the ankle,” says Dr. Cunha. “It’s almost like they’re walking on a tripod and therefore they have a higher tendency to suffer from inversion sprains because their arches are so high that their ankles roll inward.”
Other problems runners with high arches commonly develop are Achilles tendinitis and metatarsalgia, which is when you have pain and inflammation under the ball of the foot.
“High-arched feet may be more susceptible to bone injuries on the outside of the foot, ankle, and leg,” says Jason Karp, PhD, running coach, exercise physiologist and author of 12 books, including Running a Marathon For Dummies.
To help you avoid common foot injuries and undue pain, we’ve put together a guide for buying the best running shoes for high arches. Keep reading for our top product recommendations as well as tips for finding the right footwear for your foot type.
How To Buy Shoes for High Arches
The best running shoes will differ from person to person. Knowing your foot type is a crucial part of the shoe buying process. You can do the ‘wet test’ at home and step in a bucket of water and then step on a piece of paper, like a brown paper shopping bag, and then you’ll be able to see your foot type.
- If you’re an overpronator or have a flat arch, then you’ll see the whole foot and the flat arch will appear on the wet footprint.
- If you have a neutral foot type, you’ll get that typical “perfect sand print” or footprint that you’ll get in the sand and see part of the arch.
- If you have a really high arch or are an underpronator/supinator, you’ll see the print on the outside and the middle of the foot will look carved out in the footprint.
You can also look at your current shoes to determine your foot type. If the sole is worn out in an S-shaped pattern, from the outer heel to the big toe, then you have a neutral foot type. If the soles are worn out more on the inside of the shoe like the heel, then your foot type is likely an overpronator/flat arch. People with high arches (underpronators) will show the most wear and tear on the outside of their shoes.
It might seem obvious, but you need to make sure the running shoe you’re buying will be wider than your forefoot. Trace your foot on a piece of paper and put the shoe over it, suggests Dr. Cunha. Obviously, the tracing of your foot should not be outside the periphery of the shoe; otherwise, your toes will be crammed into the toe box.
There are three types of running shoes: motion-control, neutral and stability:
- Motion-control shoes are ideal for pronators, those with flat arches
- Neutral/cushioning shoes are for neutral (average) foot types. They are the most bendable shoes and tend to be softer and less structured since these are for normal foot types.
- Stability shoes are best for runners with high arches because you need a shoe that has more cushioning for shock absorption. Since the foot is more rigid in nature, you need stability.
When you’re shopping for running shoes for high arches, the sneakers should be comfortable, shock-absorbing and have support for the arches. Look for running shoes that are cushioning/neutral, are comfortable and prioritize responsiveness, suggests Dr. Karp.
The heel counter and ankle collar (back parts of the shoe) should be relatively firm and not able to compress easily when you press on it or squeeze it, says Dr. Cunha. The best running shoes for high arches will have these features and betterr support your feet so that you don’t develop Achilles tendonitis or ankle sprains.
Runners with high arches should also look for a deep heel cup in the shoe. “That’s important because it maintains the proper foot alignment and helps maintain pressure, releasing the plantar fascia with the heel strike,” says Dr. Cunha.
The Best Running Shoes for Underpronators
If you’re still thinking that running in the wrong shoes isn’t a big deal, know that research found wearing improved footwear helped runners reduce their oxygen consumption during workouts. Yes, that means more comfortable shoes meant an improvement on participants’ run performance.
On top of that, you don’t need to be a podiatrist to know that the wrong shoes make you more vulnerable to common runner’s injuries and pain.
Below, you’ll find our top recommendations for the best running shoes for people with high arches. Please note that we’ve listed the running shoes below in men’s sizes. However, most of these shoes are also available in women’s sizes. In general, the best running shoes for high arches are ideal for both men and women, and so we consider this a unisex guide.
1. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11
Zappos is famous for its stellar customer service, and the footwear retailer was happy to point us to the best shoes for high arches. The updated 1080 New Balance running shoe gets high marks for its Fresh Foam cushioning and comfort, which is ideal for underpronators. Reviewers say it feels luxurious and plush. “You want a shoe that’s plush because you want the shoe to be soft enough to accommodate the rigidity of the high arched foot type,” says Dr. Cunha.
2. ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23
ASICS uses their FlyteFoam cushioning to help with the impact and provide a smooth transition. Reviewers like that GEL unit in the heel was updated in this model for a softer landing and the inner heel counter helps keep your foot in place. This running shoe for high arches is great for long-distance runners and in particular runners who land heel first. A wider toe box can help those with wider feet.
3. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
Spy editor James Schiff is an experienced distance runner, and he swears by Brooks Adrenaline running shoes. The GTS model from Brooks offers “go-to support” (GTS) and DNA LOFT underfoot cushioning to help the runner have a smoother transition from heel to toe. These are good running shoes for high arches and medium arches.
4. Brooks Glycerin GTS 19
The Glycerin 19 features Brooks’ GuideRails support technology to keep runners in their natural motion path while keeping excess movement in check. The newest version of this favorite shoe among runners with high arches features more cushioning and updated materials in the mesh upper part of the shoe.
Remember: any running shoe you put on should feel comfortable right away. “You want a shoe that offers as much durability and protection as possible without sacrificing comfort or flexibility,” suggests Dr. Cunha. And while he didn’t specifically recommend these shoes, we think they’re a great option for runners with high arches in particular.
5. Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 Waveknit Road Running Shoe
BEST FOR HARD SURFACES
Mizuno is another Spy favorite (sidebar: they make some of the best golf balls in the world). This stability running shoe for high arches featured new WAVEKNIT upper for a soft and breathable fit during your run. The beauty of this popular model is that it can be used for speed training workouts and for marathon training. The midsole is designed to be impact-absorbing while the shoe has ample cushioning.
6. HOKA One One Arahi 5
This running shoe features maximum cushioning while being a lightweight running shoe for high arches. It’s a support shoe with a focus on your ideal fit, with mesh detailing that enhances security and breathability. The collar shape of the shoe is designed to alleviate pressure on the Achilles.
7. Hoka One One Clifton 7
These are among HOKA One One’s most popular running shoes because they are great for any distance with optimum cushioning and support for runners with high arches. The midsole design is engineered to help you run more efficiently. The overall fit of this shoe is snug but the toe box provides plenty of room. Some reviewers on Amazon that have plantar fasciitis say that this shoe and the Arahi are some of the most comfortable shoes they have ever worn and that these shoes helped fix their foot pain. These shoes have also earned hundreds of positive reviews from Zappos customers, making them an all-around great choice for underpronators.
8. Saucony Triumph 18 Running Shoe
The Triumph 18 is Saucony’s most cushioned shoe, has been redesigned to give long runs a new faster feel while providing ultimate comfort. This new version feels lighter than previous iterations and reviewers like the responsiveness and flexibility that the TRIFLEX design offers. Runners with high arches say that the cushioning and sponge-like feel helps them feel protected and supported.
9. Saucony Guide 14 Running Shoes
Saucony’s latest Guide running shoe is a great option for runners who seek maximum performance in a stability shoe that’s ideal for daily runs. The brand’s newly formulated PWRRUN foam makes for better responsiveness with a softer feel. The shoe has a snug fit and makes for a “protective ride” said one reviewer. There is some forefront flexibility and it has solid stability in the heel and midfoot.
Where To Shop for the Best Running Shoes in a Pandemic
Dr. Cunha recommends shoe shopping in person if you’re able to do it safely. Shop at the end of the day when your feet are more swollen so you know the shoe fits well then.
“I also recommend getting your foot measured with a Brannock Device from time to time to see if the width has changed.”
If you don’t feel comfortable shopping for running shoes in person right now or aren’t able to, look for brands you already know and trust, recommends Dr. Cunha. This way, you know their sizing and how the shoe fits your foot. A size 10 shoe from one manufacturer might fit differently than a size 10 shoe from another brand.
You could buy the same model shoe, or buy a new version of the shoe you’re already running in, suggests Dr. Cunha. While shoe manufacturers make updates when a new model comes out, the differences are usually related to cushioning, making it lighter, or changing the aesthetic of the shoe. You should also shop online at a retailer with a good try and return policy.
“Many stores allow people to run in the shoes and send them back if they don’t feel good,” says Dr. Karp. “Shoes should feel good right out of the box. The best way to choose running shoes is to buy the same shoes you are already comfortable wearing. If you have never run before and so don’t have a history of wearing running shoes, try a cushioning/neutral shoe first, since the vast majority of the public wears cushioning shoes.”
Zappos features a Runlimited 30-day guarantee that allows customers to “take the shoes for a ride, then decide” on fit, comfort and if it matches their performance needs. Better yet, Fleet Feet allows customs to return a product they wore within 60 days for a full refund. Sellers’ return policies on Amazon.com vary so review the third-party’s guidelines about using the product before you purchase them.