There are a couple of common misconceptions about feet with high arches.
The first assumes that all runners with high arches – also known as Pes Cavus – supinate or roll outwards during running or walking. Supination is also called under-pronation, the opposite of over-pronation.
That assumption isn’t necessarily true. A high-arched foot will also pronate under certain circumstances.
It is also assumed that high-arches do not require footwear with arch support. This advice is also counter-intuitive.
Under usual circumstances, the arch is meant to help absorb shock and stabilize body movements. So a high arch will redistribute the loading stress to the forefoot and the heel.
Thus, having an adequate level of under-arch support and midsole cushioning will help support the loading movement.
Though many running shoes have a supportive midsole along with varying levels of under-arch support, it might be a good idea to get a custom orthotic or an aftermarket insole. If that’s the route you want to take, read our buyer’s guide on orthotic-friendly shoes.
The running shoes that feature on this guide do two things very well.
They have a cushioned ride that makes landings and transitions go easy on your feet and the arch. At the same time, they aren’t overly structured and do not overcorrect the gait.
The terms ‘cushioned’ and ’softest’ aren’t the same thing – though many believe that to be true. Excessive softness can cause a shoe to be unstable – which is undesirable regardless of the arch type.
None of the models recommended here overdo the ride softness part. Instead, they combine impact-absorbing cushioning with a midsole that keeps the foot supported. Most of them do well in the under-arch support department, but it’s a good idea to get an aftermarket insole for an optimal ride experience.
If your high arches are a source of pain, please go see a physiotherapist first instead of reading this shoe guide.
1) adidas Solar Glide 19
Cushioning and support are happy playmates on the Solar Glide 19. The breathable upper hugs the foot in comfort; a removable insole and a set of raised EVA foam rims supports the foot on the sides. A plastic Torsion shank adds stability from the inner rearfoot to the midfoot.
The single-density Boost foam midsole produces deep and supportive cushioning. The Polyurethane foam holds its structural integrity well when loaded, so this is an excellent cushioned shoe option for high arches.
2) Asics Gel-Cumulus 21
Over the years, Asics has honed the Flytefoam formula to enhance the overall ride comfort. The result of that gradual refinement is evident on the Gel-Cumulus 21.
A softer Flytefoam Propel midsole is stacked about a slightly denser layer to create a cushioned ride that does not inhibit the foot’s rolling motion.
The Cumulus 21’s insole doesn’t have a lot of arch support, so you may want to explore swapping the stock footbed with a custom one.
3) Brooks Glycerin 18
The Glycerin has been Brooks’s neutral running staple for nearly two decades. Its balanced ride is one of the reasons why it’s been around for such a long time; that hasn’t changed for the Glycerin 18.
Though the 18 is lighter than the 17, the ride isn’t ‘super-soft’ or ‘super-plush’ as the marketing would have you believe. When compared to truly soft shoes, the midsole is still in the medium-soft territory. That kind of ride behavior makes it suitable for most runners looking for a daily driver – high-arched or otherwise.
The 18’s redesigned upper is packed with material updates. Though the fit is still true-to-size, accommodating, and smooth from the inside, Brooks dials down the upper plushness. The collar isn’t as plump as the 17, and the engineered mesh is lighter.
It’s worth noting that in its stock form, the Glycerin 18 doesn’t have a filled-up under-arch area. If the latter is what you want. an aftermarket insole will help enhance the sensation of support.
4) Brooks Transcend 7
Over the last couple of years, we’ve viewed the Transcend as a more supportive version of the Glycerin.
That opinion holds for 2020 as well.
The Transcend 7’s engineered mesh upper has a similar fit and feel as the Glycerin 18. And except for the raised ‘GuideRails’, the midsole delivers a cushioning experience that feels similar to the Glycerin.
The Transcend has evolved a lot since it was first released in 2014. The upper went to overly narrow to a relatively relaxed and true-to-size fit profile in the last few years. The Transcend 7 uses a lighter mesh compared to the 6, so the fit is more accommodating.
The midsole has the raised sidewalls (Guiderails) on either side, with the outer rim being slightly softer. As a result, the Transcend 7 creates a ride that is affirmatively neutral and supportive – a quality that works for most runners.
Though the T-7 loses a few grams over last year due to the new outsole and upper, its near-11-ounce weight puts it on the heavier side.
5) New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V10
New Balance did a bang-up with the Fresh Foam reformulation on the 1080V9, thus turning the latter from an average running shoe to a great one. The 1080V10 takes it even further.
The high-volume midsole is ideal for running longer distances in cushioned comfort. Making that happen is a softer midsole and a split outsole design that flexes together with the Fresh Foam stack.
Though the upper fits true to size, the flared-out heel has a love-it-or-hate character.
6) Saucony Ride ISO 2
Most Saucony running shoes – including the Ride ISO 2 and the Triumph – have the contoured ‘Formfit’ insole that works for high arches. The under-arch part of the insole rises in a gentle flare and supports the foot. The Everun Topsole and EVA midsole create a cushioned ride in a neutral and unbiased way.
We often forget that the upper also plays an important role in supporting the foot. This is one area we can’t fault the ISOFIT panel for; the inner sleeve joins forces with the flared insole to support the foot during the gait cycle.
7) Saucony Triumph 17
The Triumph is great for runners of all classes when it comes to long-distance runs or daily runs at easy speeds.
The upper has a narrow fit and fits slightly shorter due to the generously padded heel. Saucony gets rid of the ISOFIT to give the T-17 a cleaner exterior profile. The midfoot is (still) sleeved so you get a secure fit without the ISOFIT strapping system.