The criteria for choosing running shoes to help high arches is similar to the criteria that any runner should consider when buying new shoes. Along with the addition of a few basic ‘high arch’ factors, the field of possible shoes can be narrowed quickly and easily. In this article you will discover what the best running shoes for high arches are.
If you’re in a hurry, consider these points:
- High quality stability shoe that doesn’t bend in half.
- Replacement insoles. Off the shelf or even better custom orthotics.
- Test your socks. Thick, thin and different materials. Running socks can change your relationship with a pair of shoes, doubly important for those with high arches.
Things to consider when choosing a running shoe
Most runners with high arches have feet that roll outward. Take a look at your current running shoes and the ware pattern on the outsole. Keep this in mind while choosing your next pair. If the ware patter is particularly bad.
Comfort for high arches
Feet with high arches have three pressure points that need specific support, heel, forefoot and the bones in the middle of the foot. A high arch foot will rarely hit the ground flat. More likely the forefoot or the heel will strike the ground first closely followed by the rest of the foot. The foot needs to be supported throughout this process. If it is not the runner is likely to feel some discomfort or pain. Over a period of time this may lead to more serious problems that will require a period of rehabilitation.
Comfort is a basic requirement and comes from the appropriate cushioning and support. It does however include more that how the shoe feels when it strikes the ground.
The support that a stability shoe will provide is considered more appropriate than a neutral shoe.
Runners with arches tend to need to splay their toes more so than other runners. Choosing a shoe with a big enough toe box is therefore an important consideration.
A shoe that will allow heat to escape will be more comfortable that a shoe that does not. The construction and material of the upper defines how good a shoe will be at losing the heat. Along with the overall comfort of the shoe and how it wraps around the upper foot. For more general information about running with high arches, click here.
The words true to size are helpful here. If a shoes fit is described as true to size, you know the shoe will fit your foot. True to size refers to the length of the shoe. There should be at least a thumb width of free space from the end of the toe to the end of the shoe. Feet expand when they get hot so you need a little space to allow for this expansion.
Sizes do vary slightly between manufactures. However if you seen the words true to size and reviewers have commented on this to be the case. You can with some confidence buy the shoes knowing they will be a good basic fit.
Outsole – the rubber that hits the road
The outsole needs to fit the surface you’ll be running on, road, trail or combination of the two. Not a factor specific to high arches but not to be forgotten. The outsole plays an important but almost undefinable role for runners with high arches. It is the part of the shoe that comes into contact with the road (or trail) is therefore the first part of the shoe that lays the foundation for how the rest of the shoe interacts with the outside world and the foot.
Current thinking by most shoe manufactures is minimalist. Rubber is heavy compared the materials used for the midsole (the soft cushioning). So they keep it as sparse as possible. For example this is the outsole of the Hoka Rincon. I was quite concerned when I saw quite how minimal the outsole was! But after a few dozen miles the ware settled down and have proven to be durable enough.
Midsole – Cushions for the feet
As an older runner I find cushioning helps prevent my legs becoming sore during and after long runs. Runners with high arches have commented that the same applies to their feet.
Cushioning provides shock absorption and vibration dampening for all the muscles joints and tendons used while running.
The midsole is a link in the chain that provides support sitting between the outsole and insole. It stands to reason that a firmer midsole will provide support. It also stands to reason that the firmer the midsole the lesser the cushioning effect. Like most things in life a compromise must be found when selecting a running shoe.
The insole sits between the midsole and the sock. It is the part of the shoe that can have the greatest impact for runners with high arches as it is possible to change it. If the stock insole isn’t providing enough support for the arch there are a couple of options. It can be changed for an off the shelf insole designed with high arches in mind. Or it can be replaced for a custom orthotic (medical word for custom insole).
There are lots of different options for off the shelf insoles. They vary widely in design and materials used but all have the same aim. To change the characteristic of the running shoe to narrow the gap between current comfort and support to a more optimal level. If you have the time, the patience and the money. Buying two or three pairs and testing them to find a pair the help you feel comfortable and supported while running may prove to be a good thing to do.
Custom orthotics that have been medically designed to fit your feet may be a better answer. They should take the guess work out of the selection process for an insole. However don’t feel obliged to use them if they don’t improve the comfort and stability sufficiently.
I like replacement insoles. It is the only part of the shoe that can be changed to specifically meet your feet’s requirements. Most modern running shoe insoles are glued in place so will require a little force to remove them. If you fall upon the perfect replacement insole they can be glued in place with spray contact adhesive.
The insoles are lightly to need a little trimming to get them to fit. Use the insoles you take out of the shoe as a template for the replacement. But be careful, the different lumps and bumps will mean it wont be a like for like replacement. Take your time and you wont go far wrong.
I’ve scratched the surface here regarding soles. One more point.. If you find a shoe you love but doesn’t quite make you forget you high arches. Experiment with insoles. This is likely to be an ongoing process as a pair of replacement insoles that work perfectly in one shoe may not give you the same result in another pair of shoes.
Which Running Socks
I experiment with socks all the time. Thick or thin, different materials and different lengths. I have favourite socks that I wear with different shoes. For example I’ve always loved my Hoka Clifton 6’s but they really came alive for me when I put a thick pair of woollen NB socks on. I happened on the perfect combination that went past the criteria of:
- Good fit with the shoe
- Not moving around
- Wicking away moisture
- Keeping my feet cool
They just felt great. However the same socks with the Hoka Elevons simply do not work. I need a thinner sock for those. Im yet to find that sweet spot that makes me look for some specific socks with those shoes.
The point is – change your socks until you find the perfect fit for your feet and that shoe. If you don’t have a draw full of socks you can call on to test. Buy some and test.
Buy a quality shoe that wont fall apart after 100 miles.
Consider replaceing the insoles with custom or off the shelf orthontics.
Try different socks.