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Running plus high arches can be a recipe for injury. But with the right approach and equipment, you’ll be hitting the trails and pavement pain-free this year.

If you love running and have high arches, you may have had fellow running friends caution you about an increased risk for injuries. In fact, you may have had a few running injuries and wondered whether your high arches were to blame. You might even have a few questions about shoe choice and whether certain running kicks are better for people with high arches than others. (The short answer: Yes.)
Understanding the impact of high arches on your running and foot health is a subject that researchers have put under the microscope several times over the years, and the science has evolved as a result. If you’re curious about the findings, here’s what you need to know about running, high arches, injuries and the best running shoes for your needs.


The first thing to note is that having high arches is not an abnormality. Just like each person’s footprint is unique, so are arches—some are higher and some are lower. The main thing to know is that your arch height influences the shape of your foot, and in turn, this helps determine the running shoes that will suit you best.  
Do your arches qualify as “high”? To find out, many podiatrists and shoe stores will have you perform a simple wet foot test. How it works: Dip your bare feet in a shallow pan of water, then walk across a dry surface or scroll of paper. The pattern left behind by your wet footprint will reveal whether you have low, medium or high arches. A footprint that shows up as fairly full or complete indicates that you have low arches; if the middle part of the footprint is semi-visible, your arches are medium height. And if your footprint shows your heel and toes but almost none of the midsection of your foot, that means your arches are high.
Scientific it’s not, but nevertheless, the wet foot test is a fairly accurate indicator for the type of arch you were born with.


Studying arch height to determine if it plays a role in running injuries goes back a few decades, when military doctors became interested in learning whether or not high arches contributed to injury rates among recruits. One small naval study found an uptick in injury rates among recruits with both high and low arches. Another Canadian study found a correlation between arch height and the forces sent through the ankles and legs of runners.
Still, other research indicates that flat feet (low arches) correlate with a runner’s tendency to pronate (roll the ankle inward), suggesting that this category of runner might need more motion control in shoes. High arches, on the other hand, may correlate with supination, or the tendency for the ankle to roll to the outside while running. These studies are just a few that researchers of biomechanics look at when determining what might be the right type of running shoe for various arch heights.


Interestingly enough, studies show that runners with high and low arches suffer injuries at approximately the same rate. Where they differ, however, is in the type of injury. Low-arch runners tend to have more soft-tissue injuries—tendons, ligaments and muscles. High-arch runners, on the other hand, suffer more bone-related injuries. These might show up as stress fractures of the feet or shins. The reason, according to the research, is that high arches tend to be more rigid, sending the impact of every stride up through the foot and leg. Lower, more flexible arches tend to better distribute the pounding of running.
Whether you have high, low or medium arches, foot-focused stretches and strength training can help you develop proper support for any sort of arch. Drills to improve cadence are also a good idea, as lighter, quicker foot strikes send less impact throughout the body than longer, slower and heavier strides.


If you have high arches and you’re looking for a running shoe to help keep your feet and legs happy—and keep you on the road—you’ll want to seek out a style that offers arch support along with enough cushioning to lessen the impact of all that pavement pounding. One to try: Floatride Energy Symmetros, featuring a lightweight midsole that hugs your arches while providing structure and support. Additionally, its 3D molded heel counter will lock your feet into place, allowing for a more even distribution of impact from each stride. Infused with Floatride Energy Foam, you’ll get a lightweight and responsive ride. This shoe is a great choice for your middle- and long-distance runs.
Looking for a more neutral shoe for speedier runs? Try the Symmetros cousin, the Floatride Energy 3. Weighing in at just over seven ounces, this lightweight trainer is perfect for races and speedwork days, whether on the track or on the roads. It features a flared heel collar, a carbon rubber outsole for sturdy traction, and the same responsive Floatride Energy Foam. 
Of course, the shoes you choose take lots of things into account, from style trends (and whether they match your new leggings) to favorite colors and prints. With so many options out there, you’re sure to find one that meets all your needs. 
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