Tread Labs

Flat Feet to High Arches - Arch Support Insoles Increase Comfort

The Best Insoles for Flat Feet

As someone who has had very high arches all her life, I should have been wearing orthotic insoles from the beginning. But I wasn't. Only when I joined Tread Labs did I try on orthotic insoles and understand just what a difference they make in foot support. I found that the Stride's high arch model worked perfectly for me. My best friend is the complete opposite with extremely flat feet. She was shocked how much the Stride improved comfort. Howe could one insole provide optimal support for such different foot types? The answer is in the arch. No matter your arch height, there's an arch-supporting insole that can help both relieve and prevent many types of foot pain.

First, you need to know your arch height. If you don't already know, there's an easy way to find out. 

The Footprint, Arch-Height Wet Test

Use this very easy footprint test to determine your arch height.

  1. Fill your tub with a small layer of water.
  2. Take two pieces of cardboard or heavy paper and set them on the floor. 
  3. Step into the tub with one foot to wet the bottom of your foot.
  4. Lift up your foot and step onto one cardboard piece. Make sure to stand with your full weight on that one foot.
  5. Step off the cardboard and look down.
  6. Determine your arch height. If you see your entire footprint, you have a LOW arch. If you see half of your arch—like the typical "footprint in the sand" image—you have a MODERATE (normal) arch. If you see just your heel, the ball of your foot and almost none of your arch, you have a HIGH arch. 
  7. Repeat steps 3 through 6 for the second foot to confirm that your arch heights are the same on both feet. If they aren't, you may need insoles of different arch heights, which Tread Labs can accommodate.

See examples of what the various footprints look like here: 

the best insoles for flat feet or high arches

Determining your arch height is just the first step to understanding how insoles help each type of arch.

    The Best Insoles for Flat Feet - How Arch Support Insoles Help

    When you have flat feet, the entire bottom of your foot (the sole) touches the ground when you’re standing. Flat feet often occur when your arches don’t develop properly as you’re growing up or if you overpronate. They can also develop as you age or after a foot injury. For women, pregnancy can cause flat feet.

    For some people, flat feet don’t cause any difficulties. But for others, they can cause:

    • Pain in the heel (plantar fasciitis) or in the arch
    • Swelling along the inside of your ankle
    • Knee and hip problems

    The best insoles for flat feet will fully support your arch and stabilize your heel to concentrate the fatty pad underneath your heel bone. This will both prevent overpronation and provide firm support. Typically, the best insoles for flat feet will have a low but supportive arch. However, you should try different heights to determine which one will adequately support your feet.

    Moderate Arches — You Still Need Support

    If your arch is neither low nor high, you have the most common foot type — moderate. Hooray, you're normal! But that doesn't mean you don't need arch support. In fact, it's the opposite. Your feet still need support to prevent overpronation. Plus, all feet benefit from support when you're exercising. Runners, walkers, and cyclists particularly need additional arch support.

    High Arch Support is Here

    High arches are usually inherited and you have them from birth. If you develop a high arch in just one foot over the years or see just one high arch when you look at your footprint instead of two, please check with your doctor. The difference could be a neurological issue.

    Typically, high arches alone don’t cause pain, but they can result in underpronation (more commonly known as supination). As a supinator, your arches don't collapse enough to absorb the shock of walking/running, which puts stress on your feet and can lead to:

    • Plantar fasciitis
    • Sore knees
    • Sore hips

    Insoles provide support for high arches and help prevent supination. Tread Labs Stride fully supports the arch and stabilizes the heel with a deep heel cup, which concentrates the fatty pad underneath your heel bone.

    Note: If you have high arches, you may think that you need the highest possible insole, but you should try a couple of arch heights in your insoles to see which one will support your feet best.

    Insoles for Everyone

    Link to Stride Insole - the best insoles for flat feet

    No matter your arch height, insoles like the Stride will dramatically increase comfort by supporting the bones of your foot for an efficient stride. Do yourself a favor and see what arch support can do to improve your outlook and your day.


    Jun 09, 2016 • Posted by Mark Paigen

    Getting your feet evaluated by a competent podiatrist or pedorthist will be an important first step in achieving foot comfort. A podiatrist is a medical doctor who focuses on feet and performs surgery when necessary. A pedorthist offers non-surgical remedies in the form of orthotics and shoe modifications. Either would be a good first step. I do not have a personal recommendation in Chicago but Tread Labs will post on Facebook and see if any of our followers have someone to recommend. Let us know if we can be of further assistance. Thanks for giving us a look.

    May 26, 2016 • Posted by randa sabbagha

    Hello. Please help. I read everything on your website. Is it possible you could recommend an orthopedic person who works in. Chicago. I looked to purchase your insoles and foun myself lost. Where ro begin. My arches are somewhat high. I have bunions on both feet directly below my big toe. I have always bought big shoes toe accommodate wide width around toes. But shoe person told me I’m ruining my feet. I’m am double a narrow. Now i have PT, . Reflexology helps but temporary. He suggested in wear shoes with loop wholes or something like this. Do you have any recommendations for me to begin fixing my feet. But, not willing to do bunion surgery. I’m understand it is very painful. I’m 39 years old 5 feet 4 inches and weight 110. Please advise me how to start. Thank you. .

    May 22, 2015 • Posted by Mary Hart

    Thanks so much, Todd! And good arch support is critical for knees. My mom, who’s a nurse, has told me that quite a few times. Get those insoles.

    May 22, 2015 • Posted by Todd

    Great article. I never realized that good arch support could help my knees.

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