While it's common knowledge that flat feet can cause foot problems, people with high arched feet can also suffer from foot pain. Just like flat feet, high arched feet are inherited and so are the accompanying foot conditions. 

High arches place an excessive amount of weight on the ball of the foot and the heel and can cause the following conditions:

  • hammertoe
  • metatarsalgia or pain in the ball of the foot
  • plantar fascitis
  • calluses on the ball, side, or heel of the foot
  • pain with walking or standing
  • ankle sprains (due to foot instability most often when high arches are rigid)
  • arthritis caused by the lack of support in the middle of the arch

Preventing Foot Problems With High Arches

Because a high arched foot can cause many different types of foot problems it's best to try and prevent these problems. Unfortunately even the most supportive shoes with good arches won't provide enough support for the person with a high arched foot. To help support the high-arched foot try the following:

  • an over-the-counter insert such as Powerstep or Superfeet to take weight off the heel and ball of the foot.
  • shoes with low heels with good shock absorption - avoid thin or hard-soled footwear
  • those with rigid high arches with tendency to sprain their ankle can benefit from wearing shoes that support the ankle i.e. boots
  • over-the-counter support with a metatarsal pad or alternatively Dr. Jill's gel metatarsal pads applied directly to the skin.
  • custom orthotics particularly if you're experiencing pain in the middle of the foot.

For Women Who Wear High Heels

Women with high arches will often feel better at first with high heeled shoes because these are the only shoes that match the shape of their feet. However shoes that are greater than one inch can add pressure to the ball of the foot causing more problems than they solve. While it's best to avoid heeled shoes higher than one inch, the following recommendations should be followed for women with high arches who choose to wear a higher heel.

  • Protect the ball of the foot with additional support either in the form of a metatarsal pad, or slim over the counter ¾ length arch support that includes a metatarsal pad. Dr. Jill’s gel metatarsal pad’s are reusable and are applied directly to your skin. Sole Perfection shoe store has an excellent selection of over the counter dress supports.
  • If you go directly from working all day in heels to working out in the gym, stretch your calves regularly before you begin your work out. If you don’t have prescriptive orthotics, replace the inserts that came with your athletic shoes with a good full-length arch support such as those recommended above.
  • If you can, wear more supportive dress shoes with more square heels no higher than 1.5 inches. If style dictates otherwise, alternate between wearing dress heels and lower heels or flats.

Foot pain is not normal. If you’ve tried reasonable over the counter measures and your pain is not resolving, seek consultation with your podiatrist

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.