High arches can be a pain – literally. Because the shape of your foot affects the amount of pressure placed on your joints as you walk, you have to make sure you take care of your high arches so you avoid knee and hip problems. But that's not the only thing you'll need to address. There's also supination.
Nope, they're not. High arches are arches that are raised more than the median height while supination, also known as underpronation, is when the foot doesn’t properly roll inward upon landing. Though they're not the same, supination is often caused by high arches.
As part of a normal stride, the foot will roll slightly inward after the heel hits the ground (pronation), cushioning the impact and helping you adapt to uneven surfaces. A normal foot pattern rolls inward at around 15% during your stride.
As shown in this Runner's World video, when you supinate, your foot rolls in under 15%. Most of your body weight lands on the outer edges of each foot. Conversely, overpronation is defined as the inward rolling of the foot over 15%.
Supination can put too much pressure on your Iliotibial (IT) band, causing knee pain or Achilles tendinitis. Underpronation is less common than overpronation, with up to 10% of people in the U.S. supinating. Severe supinators are prone to inversion ankle sprains, heel spurs and stress fractures. Athletes with high arches should be particularly careful in order to avoid these injuries.
Yes. Though people with high arches often underpronate, that is not always the case. People with high arches can pronate and even overpronate.
Underpronators tend to either be heel strikers, have high arches, or have tight claves and Achilles tendons.
According to Runner’s World, there's an easy, informal test you can do 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, you probably supinate.
Like any biomechanical irregularity, underpronation can cause specific injuries. Common injuries associated with supination include:
For people with high arches, shoe shopping can be a real chore. If you underpronate, you need shoes that accommodate your gait. Because body weight is not distributed evenly across the foot, forces of impact remain concentrated on the outside of the shoe.
When you push off, your smaller toes do most of the work. This is both inefficient and lessens your ability to properly absorb the impact of your stride. Most specialists recommend finding neutral shoes with extra cushion or shock absorption qualities.
You should look for shoes that also:
There are many brands and styles that work well for people with high arches. To find the best shoes for high arches and supination, you'll want to try on several pairs before you buy. Here are some shoes you can start with:
New Balance has great running and walking shoes for people with high arches. Many of their styles provide extra cushioning, which is important for shock absorption that high-arched feet typically don’t have on their own. New Balance’s cushion features their "ABZORB" technology, a proprietary blend of rubber and foam materials that is very lightweight and can endure many miles of wear.
Birkenstock is a 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, Chaco now offers many styles for off the river too. The original Z/series of sandals has very good arch support, however some of the more recent models have less-pronounced support. Very durable, Chaco sandals will last for years.
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.
Since most shoes do not sufficiently support high arches, you'll need to add supportive insoles to correct the underlying cause of your supination. Your checklist for insoles should include a deep heel cup, an arch that mimics the curves of your feet (drugstore one-size-fits all inserts won't do), and firmness and durability.
Insoles for high arches will prevent your foot from rolling out. They can also help reduce underpronation, particularly if it is caused by biomechanics rather than tight calf muscles. And insoles can prevent injury and develop a more efficient stride, which makes every step easier.
There are many causes of high arches. Some people are born with high arches as in inherited trait while others develop them later in life. Causes of high arches include:
There are a few factors, including age, that can cause fallen arches in people who have very high arches. These include:
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. To prevent arches from falling, make sure you wear high arch support insoles and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Millions of people in the U.S. have high arches. With proper foot care, the right footwear, and supportive shoe inserts, you can participate in sports and activities pain-free. Listen to your body and be aware of any discomfort or changes so that you can proactively prevent injury.
Questions? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help.
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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