Arch Height 101 - Do You Have High Arches, Flat Feet Or Something In Between?

How to tell if you have high arches

You've probably never given too much though to your arch height, but knowing it is really helpful when it comes to understanding your body mechanics. Once you figure out if you have sky high arches, the flattest of feet, or if you're somewhere in between, you'll get how your feet work, how they affect the rest of your body and what you should be doing to take care of them.

THE BASICS ---

  • To understand how your individual body mechanics work, why you have certain types of foot pain, or what kinds of foot conditions you need to watch out for, you first need to know your arch height.
  • To figure out your arch height, look at your wet footprint. Then match what you see to the chart below.  
  • Your feet need support, no matter their arch height. Unless your shoes are custom, they're probably not supporting your feet. You'll want to add arch support insoles that match the contours of your feet to your footwear. One-size-fits-all insoles just won't cut it. 
  • For more comfortable footwear, we recommend adding Tread Labs Ramble Insoles to your shoes. If you have plantar fasciitis or other foot pain, us Pace Insoles. Or, if you're an athlete looking for enhanced performance and superior energy return, shop Dash Insoles.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ---

How Do You Measure Foot Arch Height?

Determining your arch height is important for ensuring your overall foot health, especially when it comes to choosing the right footwear and insoles. Luckily, there is an easy way figure out if you have high arches or flat feet. It's called the “wet test.”

The "wet test" is as simple as stepping out of a shower or tub onto a surface that will take an imprint of your foot. A piece of heavy paper or a cardboard box works well. Compare your footprints to the chart below.

If you have flat feet, take the extra step to look at your arches in an unweighted position. The easiest way is to sit down and put your ankle on the opposite knee.

  • If your feet are flat sitting and standing, a low arch insole will be best for you.
  • If your feet are flat standing, but you can see an arch when you sit, a medium arch will be most comfortable.

Arch Height Chart

What does your footprint look like? Describe your arch Your best insole arch height
Low Arch Foot My arch is flat when I sit or stand. Low arch height insole
Low Arch Foot My arch is flat when I stand but appears when I sit. Medium arch height insole
Medium Arch height foot  My arch is close to but does not touch the ground when I stand. Medium arch height insole
High Arch Height foot My arch is high off the ground when I stand. High arch height insole
Extra High arch height foot No one has an arch higher than mine! Extra high arch height insole

What Do High Arches Mean?

Some people are born with high arches, while some develop them over time. If you're born with high arches, they probably run in your family. If you develop them later in life, you'll want to see your doctor as it could be a symptom of a neurological disorder.

Foot pain as a result of high arches can occur because of extra stress on your metatarsals, resulting in your weight shifting to the ball of your foot. Other problems that people with high arches tend to have include:

  • Corns and calluses
  • Arch stiffness and inflexibility
  • Tight lower calf muscles

With high arches, underpronation or supination is common. This can put too much pressure on the joints and muscles of the foot, ankle and leg causing issues like:

  • Iliotibial band pain
  • Knee pain
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Plantar fasciitis

What Are The Best Insoles For High Arches?

For people with high arches, it's especially important to find an insole that offers full support across the entire arch that relieves excessive pressure on the ball and heel of the foot. The arch of the insole should mimic the arch of your foot. Insoles must fit well and be durable so they keep their shape during use and over time.

When you're selecting insoles for high or extra high arches, look for:

  • A pronounced heel cup - insoles should cup your heel effectively so for best results, look for a deeper heel cup
  • Rear foot support - the rear third of the arch is the most important for pronation control, therefore it should be properly supported (this will do wonders for comfort!)
  • Arch extension - the support should feel like a broad ramp, smooth and uniform all the way from the front to the back of the arch
  • Firm and dynamic support - you should be able to press the arch down, but not easily
Tread Labs insoles come in four arch heights, including high and extra high, so that people with high arches can get the right level of support. Our Million Mile Guarantee means the molded arch supports are unconditionally guaranteed. Forever.

What Do Flat Feet Mean?

If your wet test shows low arches, you'll need to determine the flexibility of your feet. This will tell you if you have rigid flat feet or flexible flat feet. Knowing the difference is important because it will inform the best insole arch height for your flat feet. All you have to do is:

  1. Sit with one leg over the opposite knee. Look at the area of your foot where your arch should be. If your foot looks more arched than your wet test, you have flexible feet. This means your low arches are brought on by weight-bearing. A medium arch insole from Tread Labs should be your first choice. If your non-weight bearing arch is quite high may want to order a medium and a high and try both.
  2. Stand on tip toes. Have a friend look at the area of your foot where your arch should be. Like the example above, if your arches show themselves, your feet are flexible.
  3. If your arches do not present in the sitting or standing test, you have rigid, low arches and should choose Tread Labs low arch insoles. An arch support any higher than low will likely be very uncomfortable on your arch, giving you the feeling of a golf ball in your shoe. 

People with flat feet often ask if they should get insoles for high or extra high arches to try and "fix" their flat feet. While low arches aren't anything that need to be fixed, the do still need to be properly supported.

Using a high or extra high arch on low arches could cause discomfort, and the feeling like something is digging into your arch. A low or medium arch (depending on the flexibility of your foot) is the best place to start.

What Are The Best Insoles For Flat Feet?

Many people with flat feet don't experience any difficulties, but some suffer from pain in the heel or arch (plantar fasciitis), swelling along the inside of the ankles, and knee and hip problems.

The best insoles for flat feet support your arch and stabilize your heel, preventing overpronation. Typically, the best insoles for flat feet will offer a low, but supportive arch. Finding one that matches the contours of your foot is key. 

While soft, cushioned insoles might seem like the best choice, what your feet really need is structural support. All of Tread Labs semi-custom insoles come in four arch heights to accommodate arch heights from low to extra high. 

What Are The Best Insoles For Medium Arches?

If your arch is neither high nor low, you have the most common arch type - medium or moderate. But just because you have the most prevalent arch height, it doesn't mean you don't need insoles that offer arch support.

Actually, your feet still require proper support to prevent overpronation, especially if you maintain an active life. Runners, walkers, and cyclists in particular need additional arch support.

Like those with low and high arches, people with medium arch height should look for an insole that offers firm support that is contoured to their arch.

How should new insoles feel?

If you have worn insoles before, you have some idea of what to expect. You may find that Tread Labs offers a higher level of support.

If you have never worn supportive insoles in your shoes, break them in slowly over a few days. This is how your new insoles should feel:

  • Comfortable - Your foot should feel consistent contact through all parts of your arch. There should be no uncomfortable pressure points or hot spots.
  • Supportive - Initially, a supportive orthotic may feel aggressive. After a few days, it should feel like it has always been there, supporting your every step.
  • Functional - Unlike soft, foam insoles, Tread Labs insoles support the bones of your feet, aligning your ankles, knees and hips for a more efficient stride and improved biomechanics.

Learning how to tell if you have flat feet, high arches, or somewhere in between can be a great step toward improving any foot pain you may be experiencing. Once you determine your arch height, you can find the right solutions to help relieve pain, correct foot issues and improve your comfort.

Read more about solutions for every arch height:

FIND YOUR FIT

 

Questions? Drop us a line at hello@treadlabs.com. We're here to help.

Mark Paigen
Mark Paigen

Mark has always believed exceptional footwear can change lives. He's been in the footwear industry for over 30 years, working with podiatrists, pedorthists, foot care experts, and footwear makers. Mark started Chaco sandals in 1989 and developed a game-changing sport sandal that delivered comfort and durability. After Chaco sold in 2009, Mark ultimately started Tread Labs to continue transforming people's footwear so they can walk better, feel better, live better.



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