Best running shoes for high arches

by Solereview editors

Best running shoes for high arches

This article has been updated with current models for January 2022. The Asics Nimbus Lite 2 has been replaced with its updated version.

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 normal circumstances, the arch is meant to help absorb the shock and stabilize the body. So a high arch will redistribute the loading stress to the forefoot and heel.

Thus, having an adequate level of under-arch support and midsole cushioning adds safety to the loading process.

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 in 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.

Outsole of Asics Nimbus Lite 2

Pictured here is the cushioned yet supportive Flytefoam midsole of the Asics Nimbus Lite 2 and 3.

The terms ‘cushioned’ and ’softest’ aren’t the same thing – though these terms are often conflated. Excessive softness can cause a shoe to be unstable – and that is undesirable regardless of the arch type.

However, if you want a really soft shoe, give the Nike ZoomX Invincible a try. It won’t go fast, but it is lightweight with soft and deep cushioning. Our detailed review paints a complete picture of the ZoomX Invincible.

None of the models recommended on this guide are excessively soft. Rather, these shoes combine impact-absorbing cushioning with a supportive ride. 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 or discomfort, please go see a physiotherapist instead of reading this shoe guide.

1) Asics Gel-Cumulus 23

What do you know – the Cumulus is improving every year. The previous generation Cumulus 22 was also a competent and versatile daily trainer, and so is the 23.

The newest Cumulus 23 has a smooth and comfortable ride that doesn’t try to correct the gait. In other words, the shoe’s neutral ride character works for most foot types.

The single-piece mesh upper has an excellent fit behavior. Its true-to-size build comes with a smooth interior and no hot spots.

Being a daily trainer is the best use for the Cumulus, as long as you’re not pushing higher paces.

Also see: The New Balance Fresh Foam 880V11.

2) adidas SolarGlide 4

The adidas SolarGlide 4 combines the best of both worlds. There’s an abundance of cushioning softness delivered by the Boost core. At the same time, the firmer EVA rims and midfoot Torsion shank work together to produce a stable ride experience.

The outsole plays a part too. A single-piece of latticed Continental rubber covers the underside and supports the midsole. The SolarGlide is very neutral in its cushioning delivery, and that works to its advantage. The loading process and transitions happen without any gait interference.

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 heel slippage or pressure hot spots.

The Solarglide 4 also sells in a waterproof Gore-Tex version and a stability ‘ST’ variant.

3) Asics Gel Nimbus Lite 3

We find the Nimbus Lite 3 to be more versatile than the Nimbus 24. That’s because the Nimbus Lite 3’s midsole is an excellent blend of smooth transitions, a comfortable ride, and midsole stability.

Missing on the midsole are traditional Asics features like a visible Gel unit and midfoot shank; the Nimbus Lite 3 relies on a simple design that just works.

A supportive Flytefoam stack provides 99% of the cushioning, and it’s more supportive than the Nimbus 24. Making that happen are the flared sidewalls that make the loading process smoother.

The upper fit is another factor that makes the ride stable. The plush upper fits tighter than the regular Nimbus, thus bringing the foot closer to the midsole for better feedback and power transfer.

All these aspects work together to produce a ride character that works for most runners, regardless of how their arch is shaped.

4) Brooks Glycerin 19

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 19.

The ride isn’t super-soft or super-plush as Brooks’ marketing would have you believe. When compared to truly soft shoes, the midsole is still in the medium-soft territory. The combination outsole (soft blown rubber + hard rubber) fills in the transitional gaps for a smooth ride.

This ride behavior makes it suitable for most runners looking for a daily driver – high-arched or not.

It’s worth noting that in its stock form, the Glycerin 19 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, the Glycerin 19 GTS is worth considering. It’s nearly the same shoe as the Glycerin but with raised midsole sidewalls, aka the Guiderails.

The Glycerin 19’s true-to-size upper is secure and smooth on the inside. Also, the Glycerin 19 has a full inner sleeve instead of just a gusset. As a result, the fit is snugger, shallower, and warmer as compared to some of the previous versions.

Also see: The Brooks Ghost 14.

5) Hoka One One Clifton 8

Hoka has the distinction of being the original maximal cushioning brand, and the Clifton is one of its most popular ambassadors.

Unlike the bulkier Bondi 7, the Clifton 8 hits the sweet spot between max-cushioning and lightweight build, thus giving it a versatile character that very few possess. The Clifton 8 is excellent for easy daily workouts and comfortable long-distance runs alike.

Its high-volume midsole produces a superbly cushioned and lively ride, yet feels agile and supportive. The credit goes to the wide base that creates a supportive foundation during runs. The rocker shape allows the foot to roll forward faster during the push-off phase.

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 8 is a bonus. The mesh material is updated, and the tongue gains additional plushness. In the rear, the heel collar now uses a dual-fabric construction for a gentler fit.

6) New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V11

The 1080 V11’s high-volume midsole is ideal for running longer distances in cushioned comfort.

Making that happen is a softer midsole and split outsole design that flexes together with the Fresh Foam stack. It’s not mushy though – just soft enough to be extremely comfortable, but minus the lazy feel.

This midsole design delivers a very neutral ride experience without any motion-control effect – and that makes it a good fit for this list.

The stretchy and soft mesh upper hugs the foot without being either sloppy or constrictive. The internal gusset holds the tongue in place. This shoe is also sold in wider or narrower widths should you need one.

While the upper fits true to size, the flared-out heel has a love-it-or-hate character. Also, the area near the last two eyelets is stiff and needs some time to break in.

7) Nike Zoom Structure 24

A few years ago, if someone told us that the Nike Zoom Structure would feature on this guide, we would be very surprised.

After all, the Structure used to be Nike’s most popular ‘stability’ shoe with a medial post – not exactly the kind of shoe that mixes well with regular neutral trainers.

Outsole of the Nike Zoom Structure 23.

The ‘crash rail’ geometry of the Nike Structure 24’s outsole is excellent for smooth transitions.

However, the Structure we once knew no longer exists. In its place is a cushioned neutral shoe with a balanced ride and plush upper. The transformative updates occurred on the last year’s Structure 23, and the 24 is virtually identical to the latter.

Unlike the versions before the Structure 23, there are no ‘stability’ devices that attempt to alter the gait process.

In our detailed review, we mentioned that the Nike Structure 23 felt like the ideal Pegasus. It has sufficient ride comfort for long-distance runs while being peppy enough for shorter blasts.

Since both the 23 and 24 are hard to tell apart (except for the minor upper design updates), it doesn’t matter which one you buy. They share the same ride, and have a similar upper fit experience.

8) Saucony Ride 14

We have 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’s 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. The firmness makes the Ride 14 suitable not just for various use-cases, but for different runner groups as well.

The Ride 14’s upper is the best in the series. The mesh is softer, and so are the laces and padded areas like the tongue and heel. The fit is relatively more spacious than some of the narrower Ride iterations.

9) Saucony Triumph 19

We like the newer Triumph version (including the V18) much better than the Everun (Triumph ISO V1 – 5) versions.

Though both the Saucony cushioning technologies are based on expanded Polyurethane, the Pwrrun+ foam delivers superior cushioning and responsiveness.

It’s worth mentioning that Pwrrun+ isn’t as soft as adidas Boost. The cushioning quality is a satisfying middle ground between cushioning softness and ride stability.

Also, the Triumph 19 has a high-volume midsole that is wide under the heel and forefoot.

This form factor appeals to runners of all classes during long-distance runs or daily runs at easy speeds. The rubber outsole has a generous surface contact area for optimal traction and durability.

While the Triumph 18 and 19 are pretty similar in how they feel under the foot, the V19’s upper features several improvements. By getting rid of unnecessary layers, the new Triumph acquires a visually cleaner exterior.

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