If you’ve ever worn insoles for high arches and been uncomfortable or in pain, I have an apology for you. Insoles for high arches have been prescribed all wrong, and for that, on behalf of our profession, I’m sorry. As a podiatrist with over 10 years experience teaching and consulting here’s the truth.
If you have a high arch chances are you’ve struggled with foot or leg pain. High arched feet have some inherent advantages compared to their flat footed cousins. High arches require less energy to spring forwards and can move fast over flat terrain. Sprinters benefit greatly from high arches with stiff tendons.
But this can come at a cost.
High arched feet are not as mobile and adapting to different uneven ground can be more challenging. Ankle sprains and ball of foot problems are common.
So how then did us podiatrists think that prescribing big orthotics like those used for flat feet would help?
Well, it all started with a podiatrist who was a pioneer in orthotics and biomechanics. A man named Merton Root.
The Root Cause of Your Problems
I’ll simplify decades worth of complex biomechanics theory here into a couple of paragraphs. Merton Root coined a theory of the way the foot behaved which was based on foot posture and a neutral foot.
Side note: Unfortunately Root Theory is still is used by some podiatrists.
Basically, every foot needs to look and function the same. With a perfectly curved arch during weight bearing. Orthotics designed under Root Theory worked OK for some, and really good for others. But many, especially those with a high arch, they were bulky, painful and no good.
Taking a high arched foot and placing hard foams or plastics underneath to push it into a lower arch profile doesn’t sound particularly comfortable. Talk about getting Rooted!
With more research, particularly that borrowing from physics and engineering principles we now have a more modern theory on biomechanics. It’s called the less sexy, Tissue Stress Model of Biomechanics. Under the tissue stress model we’re not yet perfect, but our orthotic prescriptions are starting to stand up to academic testing (and client comfort). We achieving much more consistency than the old Root Theory insoles from the past.
How Insoles for High Arches Work
Modern insoles for high arches work by pushing on the foot to balance out the pulling from muscles above and pushing from the ground below.
With high arches there is usually more inversion (supination) forces acting around the ankle (sub talar joint). These movements are great during weight bearing and propulsion to spring forwards effectively. The opposing movement, called pronation (eversion) is required through the landing phase and happens less with a higher arched foot.
So insoles for high arches are required to push gently and evenly down the outside of the foot and guide the wearer down towards the big toe.
As podiatrists we do this by taking an exact 3D scan of your foot and prescribing the perfect pair of insoles for your high arches. Modifications to your prescription have these technical terms such as plantar fifth ray grinds. First ray accommodations. Lateral heel stabilisers. These modifications are placed in exactly the right location and apply exactly the right force. This allows your high arched foot to do exactly what you want to.
If you and your podiatrist have goals of running further or faster, these can be achieved.
As can goals of reducing the risk of ankle sprains, ball of foot pain or plantar fasciitis.
Together, your podiatrist and you will assess your needs and develop a plan to achieve your goals. Insoles for high arches will usually be combined with an exercise program. You will build strength and capacity through muscles and tendons that can also work to help out your feet.
What Insoles for High Arches Feel Like
Your insoles for your high arched foot should feel comfortable straight away. When you first stand, walk or run on them you’ll notice that your entire foot is contoured by your orthotic insole.
As you move the gentle pressure (I personally feel it’s like a caressing nudge) will be evident along the outer side of your feet. When you go to push off your big toe area will be pressing down powerfully into the shoe to spring you forwards.
If you are trying out insoles for high arches and you feel them pressing up under your arch then this is often a red flag.
High arched feet do not need pushing up under the arch. They need gentle support there but the force should come from the outside of the foot (the lateral aspect). If they’re not comfy, you might be getting Rooted.
Another red flag is constant tweaking and modifying of your insoles. Very occasionally a small tweak to the profile of your orthotic is required. Usually to push a bit harder or a bit less on your foot. If you’re not getting your results and having to constantly modify and glue on extra bits to your insoles then there’s a good chance your insole is not right to start.
Best to fresh with something that is right for your feet.
Premade or off-the-shelf Insoles for High Arches
Almost all premade, prefabricated or off-the-shelf insoles are designed for either flat feet or following Root Theory. They have variable extra levels of support up underneath the arch. Great for many with flat feet but the opposite for those of us with high arched feet.
As such, we do not recommend any pre made insoles for high arched feet currently. We’re constantly checking out the market and liaising with manufacturers. But right now, there isn’t an insole for a high arched foot that we can offer with our Orthotic Guarantee.
Foot Conditions Orthotics for High Arches Can Treat
High arch support insoles can be prescribed to treat a variety of foot, ankle and leg conditions.
Under the Tissue Stress Model of Biomechanics the ankle joints, the plantar fascia and your tight muscles can be treated. By taking into consideration your foot structure your podiatrist can press on the outside of your foot using custom foot orthotics to reduce the peak loading on these tissues.
When you combine your custom orthotics with your perfect supportive shoes for your feet and a little bit of physical therapy (strength exercises), there’s a good chance you’ll achieve your goals you and your podiatrist developed together.
Getting Your Insoles or Orthotics
If you have a high arch type and in need of arch support insoles then seeing a podiatrist who is up to date with the latest evidence and technology is your best port of call.
At PridePlus Health our purpose is to help you feel better and all our team have both the skills, experience and passion to get your custom orthotics right. We even guarantee your success so that we wear the risk that you’re not happy with your insoles.
We also offer this guarantee for those with a flat arch type as well. Flat feet or pronated feet have the exact opposite demands as those with a high foot arch. As podiatrists we take this into consideration in your orthotic prescription process as well as physical therapy planning. The orthotics and exercises required vary greatly with your different arch type. Flat feet need more pushing under the arch, high arches need more pushing on the outside of the foot.
Learn more about how orthotics work (and don’t work).
What doesn’t seem fair is that both flat feet and high arch feet can suffer with arch pain and other foot injuries. But inversely, both arch feet can be incredibly healthy and active.
Get your activities, shoes, orthotics and exercises right and what ever your arch foot type is, you’ll be successful.
Your Orthotics Are Waiting
Simply book in a session with your podiatrist to get your orthotics. You can choose a location close to you from our clinics page. Don’t get Rooted, get the right orthotics for your high arched feet.