Best Shoes if You Have High Arches

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 11, 2021
4 min read

Feet come in all shapes and sizes. Length and width can vary, but so can the height of the arches of your feet. Some people have higher arches than average. This condition is called cavus foot, and it’s fairly common. High arches may cause foot pain and make you prone to ankle injuries. Picking the right shoes can make your feet more comfortable and keep them safe. 

Typically, feet have a curved shape. The sole of the foot arches up behind the toes and curves back down into the bottom of the heel. Most people have a moderate-height arch that is flexible. It drops when you put weight on your foot, so the entire surface of your sole touches the ground.‌

If you have very high arches, your foot won’t have adequate flexibility and drop. The arch won’t reach all the way to the ground when you take a step. This means there is less surface area of your foot to absorb impact from your weight coming down on it. Your heels and the balls of your feet take most of the impact from steps. Because of this, you may find your feet hurt after standing or moving.

High arches can be a family trait. You can inherit your foot shape from one of your parents. There are also medical disorders that can cause you to develop high arches as they progress. These disorders are often muscular or neurological conditions that cause your foot to contract into a high-arched position. These conditions include:

In addition to foot pain, high arches can also affect other parts of your body. Your ankles may twist inward (over-pronation) or outward (supination) as you walk. This can make you prone to ankle sprains or place excessive stress on your Achilles tendon. You may also find that the twisting motion in your feet and ankles causes pain in your knees, hips, or back. Your choice of shoes can reduce potential problems from high arches.

Look for shoes with a supportive midsole. Many athletic shoes are designed to provide arch support. They have a rigid stricture that allows the sole of the shoe to provide constant support for the whole foot. Soft insoles that mold to your foot shape and reach the top of your arch are also helpful.

Shoes with a lot of ankle support can be helpful for people with high arches. Shoes or boots that are snug around the ankle can prevent some of the twisting motion if your ankles are supinated or pronated. This can prevent injuries, especially during exercise. A slight heel lift can take pressure off the Achilles tendon, as well.

People with high arches are prone to bunions and hammertoes. This can happen due to excess pressure on the front of the foot. When you buy shoes, make sure they have plenty of room in the toe box to accommodate the front of your foot. You want space for your toes to move naturally. You also don’t want the shoes to squeeze the front of your foot and aggravate any existing issues.

If you can’t find shoes that hold up your high arch, you may need custom supports made. Your doctor can look at your feet to see their shape. They can assess how you walk to see how your foot posture is affecting the rest of your body. You'll step onto a mold that fits your feet, and an insert will be created from the mold. They will prescribe orthotics to give your arches the level of support they need.

If shoes and orthotics don’t solve due to his arches, you may need physical therapy. A therapist can teach you exercises to strengthen your feet, ankles, and legs. They can also teach you stretches that might release your arch and make it more flexible. This may take pressure off your feet and improve symptoms.‌

In some cases, wearing a foot brace can give you the level of stability that your feet need. Your doctor can fit you with a brace that supports your feet and ankles. This can be especially helpful if your high arch is caused by an underlying condition that also makes it hard to lift your feet.‌

In rare cases, you may need surgery to correct a high arch. This is usually due to an underlying condition or injury that you and your doctor can’t remedy any other way. You may need physical therapy and rehabilitation after surgery as well as ongoing orthotics or braces.