Having high arches can be a pain – literally. Foot shape affects pressure on other joints. If not properly cared for, high arches can lead to knee and hip problems. Here, we’re exploring some concerns specific to people with high arches. Orthotics for supination and pronation are the key for injury prevention and comfort.
No. Supination is also known as underpronation, which occurs when the foot doesn’t properly roll inward upon landing. In fact, a supinating foot has an inward motion of less than 15%. Most of the person’s body weight lands on the outer edges of each foot. Supination can put too much pressure on the Iliotibial (IT) band. Some people who supinate will experience knee pain or achilles tendonitis. Up to 10% of people in the U.S. supinate. Those with severe supination are prone to inversion ankle sprains, heel spurs and stress fractures.
While supination is not the same thing as high arches, it is a condition often caused by them. Not all people with high arches will supinate, but many are at risk. Athletes with high arches should be particularly careful in order to avoid these injuries.
Yes. Pronation is the inward rolling of the foot when walking or running. This is a normal motion, but if it goes too far, it is called overpronation. When this occurs, the arch flattens, the toes pivot out, and the knee rolls inward. Though people with high arches often underpronate, that is not always the case. People with high arches can pronate and even overpronate. Take note of how your shoes wear. Be mindful of any discomfort or sore joints. All are indicators of your individual stride.
According to Runner’s World there is an easy informal test to see if you supinate. Simply take a well-worn pair of sneakers and place them on a flat surface. Look at the shoes from behind. Do they stand straight? Or do they lean to the outer edges? If they lean dramatically to the edges, there is a high chance that you supinate. See a doctor for confirmation.
Shoe shopping can be difficult for people with high arches. But there are quite a few options, once you know what to look for. There are many brands and styles that work well for people with high arches. To find your the best shoes for high arches and supination, it's important to try several pairs on in a store before purchasing. Orthotics for supination can also be a great solution (more on that below).
New Balance is a great brand of running and walking shoes for people with high arches. Many of their styles provide extra cushioning. Cushion is important because it serves as the shock absorption that high-arched feet typically don’t have on their own. New Balance’s cushion is superior to other brands because of their “ABZORB” technology. ABZORB is a proprietary blend of rubber and foam materials that is very lightweight and can endure many miles of wear. Try these models first:
Birkenstock is another well-known comfort shoe brand. Their sandals provide arch support with a molded footbed. For many, their signature footbed helps redirect and balance pressure. Make sure to try out the sandals in the store. Birkenstock's firm one-size-fits-all footbed is heaven for some but too uncomfortable for others.
Developed by the founder of Tread Labs, Chaco has been making sandals with robust arch supports for decades. Originally designed for river guides, the number of Chaco styles have increased with time. The original Z/series of sandals has very good arch support. Some of the more recent models have less-pronounced support. Very durable, Chaco sandals will last for years. Many are re-solable and a made-in-USA model is available for a premium price.
Saucony also makes great running shoes for those with high arches. Like New Balance, they provide amazing comfort and cushioning. Their PWRGRID+ technology claims to provide 20% more cushion without adding bulk or weight. A selection of their shoes are designed for daily use for neutral or supinated feet. Check out:
As people with very high arches grow older, their arches may fall. Weight gain is another cause of fallen arches. A series of tendons and ligaments that attach leg muscles to the foot create the foot’s arch. When these tendons are injured or otherwise loosened, arches begin to fall. This change in foot shape can be painful. Feet will tire easily and put even more stress on knees and ankles. Prevent arches from falling by making sure to wear high arch support insoles and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Sometimes. There are many causes of high arches. People can be born with high arches or develop them later in life. Causes include:
Proper pronation is key to shock absorption. It is this small movement that protects joints. Runners with high arches can be prone to injury, especially if they run without properly-cushioned shoes. Cushioning and high arch support insoles can prevent shin splints, knee pain, and ankle sprains, the most common problems for athletes with high arches. Athletes face these risks with any weightbearing exercise. Alternative workouts may be safer for people with joint pain associated with high arches, including swimming, cycling, yoga, and rowing.
Millions of people in the U.S. have high arches. With proper foot care and footwear like shoe inserts for supination correction, they should enjoy pain participation in most sports and activities. Staying in tune to your own body and being aware of any discomfort or changes is the best and most proactive way to prevent injury.
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