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 assumption is also misplaced.
Under usual circumstances, the arch is meant to help absorb shock and stabilize 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 – and that 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. Our list is sorted alphabetically.
1) adidas Solar Glide 3
The adidas SolarGlide 3 combines the best of both worlds. There’s an abundance of cushioning softness in the form of the Boost core. At the same time, the firmer EVA rims and the plastic Torsion shank work together to provide stability during runs.
The outsole plays a part too. A single-piece of latticed Continental rubber covers the underside and supports the midsole. The SolarGlide 3 is very neutral in its cushioning delivery, and that works to its advantage. The loading process and transitions happen without any gait correction.
This blend of soft cushioning and support makes the shoe suitable for most runners. There’s not much to say about the upper, except that it has a comfortable and snug fit without any slippage or hot spots.
2) Asics Gel-Cumulus 22
What do you know – the Cumulus is getting better with each passing year. The last year’s version was a competent and versatile daily trainer.
The redesigned Cumulus 22 has a cushioned and comfortable ride that doesn’t try to correct the gait. In other words, the shoe has a very neutral ride character with lots of comfort for runners of most foot types.
The single-piece mesh upper has an excellent fit behavior. Its true-to-size build comes with a smooth interior and minus any hot spots.
Being a daily trainer is the best use-case for the Cumulus, as long as you’re not pushing higher paces.
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. This 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. While 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.
Also see: The Brooks Ghost 13.
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 has a lot in common with the Glycerin.
The Transcend has evolved a lot since it was first released in 2014. The upper went from overly narrow to a relatively relaxed and true-to-size fit. 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) Hoka One One Clifton 7
The Hoka Clifton 7 is a fresh addition to this guide, and we’d like to let you know why.
Hoka One One is the original maximal cushioning brand, and the Clifton has long been one of its popular ambassadors. Unlike the more bulky Bondi 7, the Clifton hits the sweet spot between max-cushioning and lightweight, thus giving it a versatility few others possess. The Clifton is effective for easy daily workouts and speedy long-distance runs alike.
Its high-volume midsole produces a superbly cushioned and lively ride but also manages to feel agile and supportive. The credit goes to the wide base that creates a supportive foundation during runs. The rocker shape helps too, as it allows the foot to roll forward faster.
The cushioned neutral-ness of the Clifton makes it a worthy pick for most runners, regardless of foot-strike or gait patterns.
The comfortable upper of the redesigned Clifton 7 is a bonus. The forefoot is spacious and soft; in the back, the heel collar sits securely and comfortably over the Achilles.
6) New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V10
New Balance did a bang-up job 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.
That being said, the 1080V10 has one of the best toe-boxes in the market. There’s plenty of room without feeling sloppy, and the mesh hugs the forefoot softly on the sides and top.
7) Saucony Ride 13
We’ve reviewed many versions of the Saucony Ride over the years. During this time, we’ve seen various cushioning and upper fastening systems come and go.
But one thing hasn’t changed, and that would be the essence of the Saucony Ride.
That essence is the ride quality that is a functional blend of firm and soft, a combination that is excellent for multi-purpose use. On easy days, the insole, topsole, and midsole provide comfortable impact protection. On faster days, the relative firmness of the single-density midsole kicks in.
The firm-soft ride is also unique in the running footwear industry where most midsoles are getting softer. It is this very firmness that makes the Ride 13 suitable not just for various use-cases but for different runner types as well.
The Ride 13 also has an upper to match. The messy ISOFIT lacing system is a thing of the past; in its place is a non-nonsense upper design that locks the foot down in comfort.
8) Saucony Triumph 18
We like the new Triumph a lot better than the Everun (Triumph ISO V1 – 5) versions. Though both Saucony cushioning systems are based on expanded Polyurethane, the latest Pwrrun+ foam delivers superior softness and responsiveness.
It’s worth mentioning that Pwrrun+ isn’t as soft as adidas Boost. The cushioning quality falls squarely in the middle and is a satisfying blend of plushness and support.
Also, the Triumph 18 has a high-volume midsole that is wide under the heel and forefoot. This form factor will appeal to runners of all classes when it comes to long-distance runs or daily runs at easy speeds. The rubber outsole covers most of the bottom to deliver sufficient traction and longevity.
While the Triumph 17 and 18 are pretty similar in how they feel under the foot, the 18’s upper is slightly less narrow in the front. If given a choice, we’d choose the 18 over the 17.