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If you have high arches, finding the most supportive walking shoes for your foot shape can help support you with every step you take — and prevent and alleviate pain and discomfort.
Before we get into the tips and info you need to know to shop for the best walking shoes for high arches, assess whether or not you have them. London-based podiatrist Marion Yau suggests a quick at-home test. “Using a piece of paper or concrete, wet your feet and stand on the surface,” she says. “Look at the imprint left behind after you move your feet. An individual with high arches will only see an imprint of their heel and front of their foot.” If that’s your result, you’re far from alone — the Cleveland Clinic estimates that about 20 percent of adults have high-arched feet.
High arches are the opposite of flat feet — those with high arches have more lift in the middle of their foot. “Our foot’s arch plays an important role in running and walking, maintaining balance, absorbing shock, and adapting to different surfaces,” explains Marion Yau, a celebrity podiatrist based in London. “There are some people who are born with high arches in their feet, and there are others who have medical conditions that contribute to their high arches.”
As for why it matters whether or not you have high arches, it’s because this foot shape can make you more prone to a range of health conditions. “Typically, high arches cause pain,” says Yau. “As a result, the heel and toes of your foot are under extra stress since the sole of your foot doesn’t provide much support. Runners and walkers may find it difficult to cope with the added stress.”
Yau cites the following foot problems as potentially resulting from high arches: metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, hammertoes, bunions, ankle instability, corns, or calluses. You may also have a tendency to supinate, which means that you place more weight on the outside of your foot while walking. We’ve included the best shoes for plantar fasciitis, the best shoes for bunions, and the best ankle support shoes on our list to accommodate.
To help prevent and alleviate these foot paina — particularly if you walk regularly for work or leisure — it’s important to purchase walking shoes that will support your high-arched feet, as well as your joints. Arch support shoes for women and men should offer features including cushioned arch supportive insoles, a significant heel-toe drop, and a wider toe box.
To find the best walking shoes for high arches, we consulted top experts. In addition to Yau, we also interviewed Dr. Emily Spichal, a podiatrist and founder of Naboso, as well as Dr. Jacqueline Sutera, a podiatrist and member of the Vionic Innovation Lab.
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Having high arches can lead to a slew of uncomfortable or painful foot conditions, but fortunately, choosing the right footwear can alleviate pain from common problems and discomfort, as well as helping to prevent the development of new conditions. Here are some factors to keep in mind when shopping for walking shoes for high arches, according to podiatrists.
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The foot arch we’re referring to here is the curve underneath your foot. “High arches are a higher arch than normal,” explains Yau. “On the bottom of the foot, the arch runs from the toes to the heel, and in high-arch foot types the mid part of the foot is raised. Pes cavus is another name for this condition. A high arch is the opposite of a flat foot.”
Having high arches can unfortunately lead to a range of issues. “A high-arched foot is one that is typically more rigid and with restricted mobility in the ankle and hips. This means that a high-arch foot may have a harder time absorbing impact forces and transferring force,” explains Dr. Splichal.
Choosing the right footwear for high arches is crucial in preventing the development foot conditions. “If you have high arches, you should choose supportive shoes because wearing the wrong type of shoes can cause pain when walking or standing,” says Yau. “Having a high-arch foot can also lead to claw [toes] and hammertoes, as well as calluses on the toes and bottom of the foot, which can lead to ulcers. High arches can also change your foot’s shape, making finding shoes that fit difficult. Foot pain can be exacerbated by wearing shoes that don’t fit.”
For more than 75 years, Footwear News has been the shoe authority. Our coverage spans top industry news, retail trends, head-to-toe fashion, athletic and outdoor analysis, and more. Footwear News’ global network of editors has carefully curated all product selections featured using our expansive brand knowledge and thorough research to find quality, long-lasting items. In order to select the best walking shoes for high arches, we conducted extensive research into the products currently on the market, as well as sifting through reviews to make sure we only included high-quality shoes that are actually supportive to real people with high arches. We spoke to expert podiatrists Marion Yau, Dr. Emily Splichal and Dr. Jacqueline Sutera to find out what those with high arches need to know when buying walking shoes. Learn more about us here.
Dr. Emily Splichal is a functional podiatrist based in Chandler, Arizona, where she runs her Center for Functional and Regenerative Podiatric Medicine. Dr. Spichal is also the founder of performance-driven accessories line Naboso, which carries a range of insoles and other products designed to optimize movement from the bottom up.
Marion Yau is an award-winning celebrity podiatrist based in London, UK. She practices at The Harley Street Foot and Nail Clinic, where she specializes in the use of hot and cold laser therapy to treat fungal nail infections. Yau creates educational content on social media as Miss Foot Fixer. You can find her on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
Dr. Jacqueline Sutera is a surgically trained doctor of podiatric medicine, practicing at City Podiatry in Midtown Manhattan, New York. Dr. Sutera is also a member of the Vionic Innovation Lab, where she helps the brand develop supportive footwear technology designed to enhance foot health.
Iris Goldsztajn is a freelance writer and editor based in London, UK. She is currently the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Refinery29, Bustle, and many more. As a journalist, Goldsztajn covers a range of topics including fashion, beauty and wellness. She is originally from Paris, France, and has lived in Los Angeles and New York City. Goldsztajn wrote this new version of our guide to the best walking shoes for high arches for 2023.