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IN A bustling world where every step counts, finding the perfect pair of shoes becomes more than just a matter of style or trend; it's a pursuit of optimal comfort and support. Imagine a world where every stride feels supported, and foot pain isn't an everyday thing. Sounds nice, right? Enter the realm of arch support, the secret ingredient to footwear that's often missing for those with flat feet, high arches, and plantar fasciitis.
Picture the arch of your foot, that graceful curve that spans from the ball to the heel. Arch support is the structural element within shoes that cradles and reinforces this natural arch, providing stability, balance, and comfort.
"By properly supporting the arches, you can hopefully mitigate the need for custom molded orthotics or over-the-counter insoles, or the need for pending or future surgical intervention," according to Mark Mendeszoon, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon at Precision Orthopaedic Specialties in Chardon, Ohio. "By wearing proper shoes and may keep the feet more stable and more protected thus diminishing the significant forces and pressures that can cause for overuse conditions."
Who needs arch support, you may wonder? The answer is simple: everyone. Whether you're a fitness enthusiast pushing your physical limits, a dedicated professional spending hours on your feet, or a casual walker seeking comfort during everyday errands, arch support offers a laundry list of benefits. Even if you're blessed with textbook neutral arches and feet seemingly impervious to discomfort, the incorporation of arch support can be preventative, guarding against potential issues down the road.
"Incorporating arch support shoes into your wardrobe can significantly improve comfort levels, prevent future health issues, and make walking and standing during long days more bearable,"says Todd Sinett, DC, a New York City-based chiropractor and founder of Tru Whole Care. "A slight change in your footwear can have a drastic positive effect on your everyday."
But how do you determine the best shoes for arch support? The answer lies not only in the construction of the shoe but also in understanding your own feet. Different individuals have varying arch types—high, medium, or low—and require different support designs, which is why we've recruited our team for MH fitness editors and experts to test out the top arch support shoes in their own daily lives and workouts. Through our comprehensive testing process, we've taken into account factors paramount to a quality arch support shoe, including support type, comfort, cushioning, breathability, overall fit, and price to bring you a list of the very best.
So, lace up your metaphorical shoes and keep reading for our top 10 picks for the best arch support shoes.
HOKA's latest Clifton shoe release is the ninth version of the popular and award-winning franchise. This iteration is even lighter and provides more cushioning and support than previous models, meaning it's ideal for daily wear and running. The ultra-lightweight design was achieved this by reducing the weight of the shoe itself, while increasing the stack height by 3 mm.
Wearing these HOKAs ourselves, we found the support and comfort to top previous iterations, thanks to a new foam and improved outsole design. The brand also made changes to the shoe's upper by removing unnecessary overlays and other features. Instead, a more streamlined look with a plusher heel, reflective heel panel, and a tongue with a single side medial gusset. All of what you want, none of what you don't.
"I come back to the Clifton every year because it's such a solid shoe. The 9 is a great example of this: It's cushioned, but not overly soft; it feels snappy off the road, but it's not an overpowering energy return for an everyday running shoe," says Men's Health Senior Editor Brett Williams, NASM.
If you're new to HOKAs, expect a break-in period to get acclimated to these maximalist shoes, Dr. Mendeszoon recommends.
What do buyers say? "This shoe is cushioned well yet supportive for my road and treadmill runs. So far I have not found anything negative about it," said one HOKA reviewer.
Read more: HOKA Clifton 9 Review
Guys with higher arches need shoes with lace-ups that don't put too much pressure at the top of their feet, and footbeds that offer enough room to move while still offering a secure fit. This option from Brooks Running does just that. It also comes in multiple sizes and widths to accommodate feet of (nearly) all shapes and sizes.
It's a gold standard for running shoes, according to Dr. Mendeszoon. "The Brooks DNA Loft midsole makes the shoe a bit softer. It has a nice crash pad for the heel and provides good fit, support, and cushioning."
The Ghost 15 comes with a few upgrade from the 14, the most significant change being the new DNA Loft v2 midsole foam. A 12 mm drop sounds a little much, but when testing the shoe, the soft foam cushioning made it feel way less extreme. We would've preferred a little higher stack out of these, but after all, that isn't really Brooks' jam (or essential for good support).
"The Ghost is one of the most reliable shoe models in all of running, providing comfort and a smooth ride," says Williams. "I lace up the 15s when I want to knock out mileage without any fuss."
What do buyers say? "Super cool and comfortable. Helps ease foot and back pain while running and working out. Has good arch and sole support," says one reviewer on the Brooks Running site.
Read more: Brooks Hyperion Elite Review
Salomon’s Speedcross 6 is a shoe destined for support, which especially shines through on rough terrain. This model, like much of the shoemaker’s designs, are known for their aggressive arch support and sticky grip, which helps ensure traction on slippery and uneven surfaces.
A Contagrip outsole with chevron-shaped lugs provides even more grip in this model. The lugs are spaced widely apart to prevent mud and debris from getting caked in, meaning they should require less upkeep than your typical trail shoe. The upper is made of anti-debris mesh that keeps dirt and rocks out, too.
The Speedcross 6's midsole features Salomon's EnergyCell+ technology, providing responsive cushioning and energy return that you won’t typically get out of a trail shoe. Bonus: An OrthoLite insole adds even more support and comfort through the arch and under the heel.
The Quicklace system makes it easy to adjust the fit of the shoes on the go, and the lace pocket keeps laces out of the way. This lace-free style is really on trend right now, too.
What do buyers say? "Speedcross 6 have kept the great inside support sole, also the grip on wet surfaces like rocks and roots, was good. They drained out really well after running through mud and creeks. They are always dependable and durable," said one reviewer on the brand's website.
Read more: Best Trail Running Shoes
HOKA has really been having their moment over the past few years, and the Arahi 6 is one of the brand's highlights. A durable and flexible curved rubber outsole provides durable traction and grip, while a cushioned midsole offers substantial support through the arch and heel.
The Arahi 6 emphasizes support and stability with a low-profile cushion bed that keeps your foot closer to the ground, and plenty of stability thanks to their J-Frame technology to help “prevent excessive inward roll, or over-pronation, without overcorrecting your gait.”
Dr. Mendeszoon is a fan of these maximalist shoes thanks to “a tremendous amount of cushioning in addition to support and control,” he says. Similar to the Cliftons, they may feel a little narrow for some. But worry not, wide sizes are available.
This shoe boasts a seal of approval from the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance, meaning a committee of discerning podiatrists tested them and ruled that the design promotes good foot health.
One downside: Those with high arches may want to consider opting for a wider size, as the midsole tends to fit snug.
What do buyers say? "I suffer from overpronation, which causes knee pain. I chose the Arahi 6 because of its stability profile. After 150+ miles of daily walking, I am no longer having knee discomfort, and I am pleased that I do not find any crushing of the instep sidewall of the sole," said one HOKA reviewer.
Read more: Best HOKA Running Shoes
React Infinity Run Flyknit 3
One of Nike's most balanced running shoes, the Infinity Run combines thick stacks with an airy flyknit upper to give you supreme flexibility and support. The React Infinity 3 remain one of Nike's best, most time-tested shoes. Technically built for road running, it offers excellent cushioning that’s both soft and supportive for feet that need a little extra TLC.
"Right off the mark, the shoe is sexy...with an extra-chunky sole made of Nike's React foam and a deceptively supportive triple-layered knit upper," said Brett Williams, NASM, in his review of an earlier model of this shoe. The same rings true with the latest edition.
A couple of added features include improved cushioning around the heel for ankle support and the wide variety of stylish colorways. It’s a design that’s purpose-built for brisk morning runs or jogs, 5Ks, and everything in between.
Plus, it's a great price point for this type of shoe, according to Dr. Mendeszoon. "This shoe provides significant amount of cushioning and has a little bit more of a durable upper."
"However, don't expect to get the typical 500 to 600 miles out of there. They tend to break down a little quicker on people who have a little more body mass," he says.
"It's a better shoe for quicker intervals, tempo runs, or races."
What do buyers say? Some buyers recommend sizing up a half size.
Read more: Best Nike Shoes
Engineered for performance and style, this shoe delivers solid arch support, a feel-good running experience, and a sleek design fit for casual wear.
The Ultraboost 1.0 is equipped with a PRIMEKNIT upper that offers a sock-like fit, meaning maximum comfort and flexibility. Its BOOST midsole, featuring thousands of energy capsules, provides stellar responsiveness and cushioning, propelling you forward with every stride. The Torsion System enhances stability, allowing for smooth transitions and optimal support during intense workouts.
"This shoe is also very lightweight that has tremendous cushioning and even provides a little stability. It provides a very comfortable foot transition for running at a moderate pace," says Dr. Mendeszoon.
This model showcases a sleek and minimalist design, effortlessly blending contemporary aesthetics with classic Adidas branding. The Continental Rubber outsole facilitates superior traction on both wet and dry surfaces, guaranteeing a secure grip in any condition.
What do buyers say? "If you’re looking for a shoe that you can wear all day and do whatever activities you want then this is your shoe," said one reviewer on adidas.com.
Read more: Best Adidas Shoes
Fresh Foam X 880v13
This is one of the more premier neutral shoes on the market. And it comes at a relatively great price point for the level of quality.
The Fresh Foam X 880v13 is designed with runners seeking optimal cushioning and support in mind. This shoe from New Balance features ultra-cushioned Fresh Foam X in the midsole, which provides a plush and responsive ride. It absorbs impact and distributes pressure evenly, facilitating smoothness and comfort in each step.
An engineered mesh upper offers enhanced breathability and a lightweight feel, while no-sew overlays provide a secure and supportive fit.
In Dr. Mendeszoon's experience, most people can start running in these without a significant break-in period.
Read more: Best New Balance Shoes
Introducing the ASICS Gel-Venture 9 shoe, the perfect companion for outdoor adventurers seeking durability, comfort, and versatility. Designed to conquer any terrain, this shoe is built to withstand the toughest challenges while providing exceptional performance.
The Gel-Venture 9 features ASICS' signature Gel cushioning technology in the rearfoot, which absorbs shock and enhances comfort during impact. The removable sockliner can be replaced with custom orthotics for a personalized fit. The durable and breathable mesh upper ensures excellent ventilation, keeping your feet cool and dry even on long treks.
With its rugged outsole featuring reversed lugs, this shoe offers outstanding traction on various surfaces, including trails and uneven terrain. We love the reinforced toe cap, which protects against impact and adds durability, while the padded collar and tongue provide extra cushioning and support.
Whether you're hiking, trail running, or exploring the great outdoors, the ASICS Gel-Venture 9 is designed to meet your needs. Take on new adventures with confidence and comfort in this reliable and versatile shoe.
Read more: Best Shoes for Standing All Day
The latest iteration of ASICS workhorse shoe is not only the lightest Gel-Kayano to date, but it's also one of the most supportive for overpronators. New to the 29 are: Gender-specific 3D-Space Construction units under the heel and forefoot to cut down weight and a Dynamic Duomax support system to reduce inward rolling during your stride.
"One of the Cadillacs of ASICS shoes and all shoes," says Dr. Mendeszoon. "This shoe provides tremendous cushioning and stability along with optimal shock absorption and arch support."
In our editors' experience with the shoe, we felt it worked well for different foot types, and different styles of running (or walking). Depending on your arch anatomy, you may benefit from pairing these with a specific insole for ultimate comfort.
What do buyers say? "Looks great and the fit is perfect. I have flat feet and the support feels excellent," said one reviewer on the ASICS site.
Read more: Most Cushioned Running Shoes
On’s Cloudstratus is a workhorse of a shoe. Dual layers of Helion-enriched CloudTec provide maximum cushioning both horizontally and vertically for incredible comfort, even over long distances. These elements work in tandem with the springy Speedboard to maximize performance without sacrifice on the road.
The outsole features exceptional rubber grip for extra road traction too. its ultra-cushioned feel is particularly great for soft landings and powerful take-offs.
At $170, they’re on par with most of On’s running shoes and, by ordering directly through On-Running.com, you get free shipping and free returns should you need to swap sizes.
What do buyers say? “These shoes are very lightweight yet extremely comfortable. They have wonderful cushioning, and they are wider than many of the other shoes I've tried,” said one On-Running.com reviewer.
Read more: Best On Running Shoes
How to Choose the Right Arch Support Shoe (for You)
Finding the right shoe or shoes is about much more than just matching your arches with a shoe's arch support. Finding the right shoe can mean unlocking the optimal alignment and balance for your feet.
There are a few key factors to consider when embarking on the journey of shopping for arch support shoes. Below, we present the essentials to keep in mind during your search:
Arch type: Understanding your arch type is essential and should always be #1 when buying shoes. Determine whether you have high, neutral, or low arches. This knowledge will guide you in selecting shoes that offer the appropriate level of arch support for your specific needs. And remember: Opting for a shoe with the wrong type of support for your arch type can cause pain and foot issues down the road.
Pronation control: Consider your pronation pattern, which refers to how your foot rolls inward during the gait cycle. To gain insights on how you pronate, Dr. Sinett recommends looking at your previous pairs of shoes to see how they are wearing down. "The bottom of the sneakers should wear down evenly and symmetrically."
If you overpronate (foot rolls excessively inward), look for shoes that provide stability and motion control. On the other hand, if you underpronate (foot rolls outward), choose shoes with ample cushioning and flexibility.
Stability: Arch support is the star of the shoe, but it doesn't work alone in keeping feet aligned and moving well in shoes. So, look for shoes that offer excellent stability throughout. This includes features such as reinforced heel counters, sturdy midsoles, and secure lacing systems.
Cushioning: Assess the level of cushioning provided by the shoes. Different individuals have varying preferences, so find the right balance that offers adequate shock absorption and comfort for your intended use, without compromising stability.
Fit: Ensure the shoes fit properly. Pay attention to length, width, and depth to avoid any discomfort or potential foot problems. Remember to try on shoes later in the day when feet tend to be slightly larger due to natural swelling.
"Look for a shoe that mimics your natural foot shape, cradles your heel securely, and has a removable insole allowing for possible customized orthotics, if needed," says Dr. Sinett. "You know your body best, try before you buy! My personal favorite sneaker brand, [On], has a 30-day trial period."
Material: Consider the breathability of the shoes, especially if you intend to wear them for extended periods or in hot weather. Look for shoes made from breathable materials such as mesh or leather to promote airflow and reduce the likelihood of excessive sweating or odors.
Durability: Assess the durability of the shoes, particularly if you plan on using them regularly or for specific activities. Quality construction, reinforced stitching, and robust outsole materials contribute to the longevity of the shoes.
"Make sure you are not keeping your shoes too long and pay attention to how the sneaker is wearing down," says Dr. Sinett. "If money isn’t a big deterrent, buy a few pairs at the same time and switch them out. It extends out the life of the sneaker and also lets you mix up the styles a bit."
Versatility: While functionality and comfort are paramount, don't overlook the style and versatility of the shoes. Look for designs that align with your personal preferences and can be easily incorporated into your wardrobe, especially if you plan to wear them for everyday activities.
Who Are Arch Support Shoes Best For?
While some shoe categories, such as wide running shoes or stability running shoes, are designed for specific type of foot anatomies or performance goals, everyone can benefit from shoes with adequate arch support. Especially people with existing foot pain, special arch concerns, aging individuals, or those who spend long hours on their feet every day. Those with certain conditions like plantar fasciitis or flat feet can find significant relief from switching to a shoe with arch support.
According to Dr. Sinett, for people with back pain, proper arch support is absolutely essential. "The arch absorbs shock and helps to distribute weight evenly across the foot, reducing the impact on the back. Without proper support, the foot can collapse, causing the leg to rotate inward and putting stress on the back."
Read more: Best Work Shoes
How to Determine Your Arch Type
Understanding your foot type is crucial in finding the right shoe that provides optimal comfort and support. There are three fundamental arch types based on the height of your arches: neutral, high, and flat. If you aren't already in the know about your arch type, there are a few ways to help you determine it.
Most simply, you can perform a 'wet test'. "By wetting your feet and standing on concrete, sand, or a flattened paper shopping bag, you can examine the imprint of your foot," explains Dr. Mendeszoon.
"If your foot has no arch and is completely flat you'll see the whole impression of your foot. Those are the people that really need an arch support shoe, stability shoe and/or custom orthotic or over-the-counter insole."
"If your foot has just left an imprint at the heel, outer side of your foot, the ball your foot and toes, but not underneath the arch, then you may have a neutral or high arch."
Additional factors such as weight, biomechanics, and overall fitness can also play a role in accurately determining your arch type. For a more in-depth analysis of your arch type, head to your a local chiropractic clinic, podiatry practice, or upscale running shoe store for a foot scan that can provide detailed information about your feet and arches.
"At my practice, Tru Whole Care in New York, we have a special machine called Foot Levelers Digital Foot Scanner that looks at specific pressure points on the feet that could be leading to back pain," explains Dr. Sinett. "Our machine takes precise measurements for customized orthotics."
Can Arch Support Shoes Weaken Foot and Ankle Muscles?
"Generally, people with weaker feet, collapsing arches, or joint or bone problems benefit from arch support shoes," explains Dr. Mendeszoon.
For most people, the long extrinsic muscles of the feet and ankles don't work effectively enough to support the arch optimally. Arch support and stability shoes will help with that in the long term.
However, corrective shoes may weaken some of the smaller or intrinsic muscles over time, according to Dr. Mendeszoon.
"To offset wearing shoes all the time, and if there are not severe deformities or problems, going barefoot periodically in your house or walking on grass or on the beach could be beneficial for exercising some of the foot and ankle muscles."
Also, working on flexibility in your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and other lower body muscles can help to minimize foot and ankle problems and muscular imbalances.
A few other factors can contribute to weaken foot and ankle muscles, too: age, excessive cushioning, and wearing shoes with arch support not aligned with your arch type. Which makes knowing your arch type of the utmost importance.
"Too much cushion or padding can alter your natural walking or running patterns leading to increased stress on joints, muscles, and ligaments over time."
Why You Can Trust Us
At Men's Health, we take great pride in providing our readers with reliable and trustworthy product recommendations. We believe that our readers deserve the best, which is why we always make sure to conduct thorough research and testing before making any recommendations. For this story, we spent hours researching online and interviewing Dr. Todd Sinett and Dr. Mark Mendeszoon. Our writers and editors are also experts in their own right, using their informed opinions to select products and ensuring that our content is of the highest quality.
Our product recommendations are purely editorial, and while we may receive free products to test and review, we only recommend the products we are most impressed by. We never let retailers or public relations contacts dictate our content or product coverage. Which is why you can trust us to provide you with reliable and unbiased product recommendations.
How We Selected
Over the past few years, we've been researching and testing new fitness shoe models from a wide range of brands. For this story, we consulted with Men's Health's Fitness editors and writers on the top arch support shoes for men. Experts including MH Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., MH Senior Fitness Editor Brett Williams, NASM, and Dr. Todd Sinett and Dr. Mark Mendeszoon collaborated to evaluate shoes on their overall arch support, comfort, and value.
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