Is It Normal for Children to Have High Arches? – Be Proactive and Prevent Foot Pain!
I work for a specialized children’s shoe store in which I handle approximately 100 shoe fittings a week, and I don’t usually see a lot of children with high arches. However, this doesn’t mean that having high arches is abnormal. High arches can develop at any age and can occur on one or both feet and they shouldn’t be left untreated.
While children with normal arches distribute their weight across the entire foot, children with high arches place an excessive amount of weight on the ball and heel of the foot when walking or standing. This can lead to a variety of signs and symptoms, such as pain and instability.
I always recommend parents to be proactive and don’t take the “wait and see approach” when it comes to treating their children’s foot conditions. I mention this because high arches can lead to several issues that include hammertoes, plantar fasciitis, claw toes, calluses, ankle sprains and general foot pain.
What Causes Children to Develop High Arches?
High arches are commonly inherited at birth, but they can be caused by a neurologic disorder or other medical condition, such as cerebral palsy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, spina bifida, polio, muscular dystrophy or stroke. Having high arched feet can also be described as Cavus foot.
I have not seen toddlers with high arches. High arched feet often develop as the child grows and are seen more commonly in early adolescents.
What Types of Shoes Are Best for Children with High Arches?
There are certain shoes for children with high arches that can help relieve pain and improve stability by helping redistribute evenly the child’s weight over the whole foot. The goal is to prevent the child from placing an excessive amount of weight on the ball and heel of the foot.
It’s important to look for shoes that provide substantial outsoles and targeted heel support to properly support the ankle and help absorb weight.
What Makes the Shoes I Recommend Effective for High Arches?
It’s important to note that the shoes I recommend are not orthopedic shoes. They are regular everyday sneakers that simply provide better support than others. The shoes I recommend provide 2 key features that make them ideal for children with high arches:
1️⃣ Substantial Outsoles: Since children with high arches lack the flexibility to absorb shock, the feet tend to roll outward as the foot rolls through a step, which increases the risk of ankle sprains. Shoes with substantial outsoles help redistribute the child’s weight over the whole foot. Let me show you the difference between a shoe with a substantial outsole versus one with an unsupportive one:
2️⃣ Targeted Heel Support: Shoes that provide targeted heel support help protect and support the ankle and absorb weight. Let me show you the difference between a shoe that provides targeted heel support versus one that doesn’t:
Keep in mind that there might be instances where your orthopedic doctor might recommend a pair of orthotics to be fitted inside the shoes, but it all starts with making sure that your child is wearing the correct pair of shoes.
You have no idea what a difference the correct pair of shoes can make! I truly believe that shoes can be life-changing as I have seen hundreds of children being able to walk and run more confidently and straighter by simply wearing the correct type of shoes.
Let’s take a look at an example of a child with high arches standing barefoot and then standing in a pair of the shoes I recommend.
What a Difference These Shoes Can Make!
The first image shows a child with a high arch standing barefoot. Do you notice how most of the body weight is placed on the heel and outside part of the foot? This is most noticeable on the right foot:
Now let’s see what happens when we fit that same child in a pair of the supportive shoes I recommend for children with high arches. Do you notice how the feet are a lot straighter? The substantial outsole of the shoe and the targeted heel support are preventing the child’s feet from rolling outwards.
It is quite clear that shoes have a complete effect on our well-being and physiology!
The Importance of Getting Shoes with Straight Lasts
To better help parents visualize what type of shoes we need for a child with high arches I have put together the images of the soles of three different shoes. The shoe with the green line is ideal for children with high arches as it will help prevent your child from placing an excessive amount of weight on the ball and heel of the foot.
We want to stay away from shoes with the orange and red line since they won’t help prevent your child from walking on the outside of the foot and heels, instead, they will encourage it.
I am always emphasizing to parents that they don’t need to buy the most expensive shoes to keep their children’s feet healthy. However, it is important to note that the cheaper the shoe is, the less quality, thought and care shoe companies put into that shoe.
I have put together a list of the best shoes for children who have high arches. However, before I show you that list I want to make sure that you know your child’s exact foot size. If you buy a pair of good supportive shoes that are the wrong size your child won’t get the full benefits that the shoes have to offer.
How to Find Out Your Child’s Exact Foot Size
I suggest that parents should take their children to be properly fitted for shoes at their local shoe store, not just to support their local businesses, but to also make sure that their child gets properly fitted for shoes. The issue now is that most specialized children’s shoe stores are closed, so I came up with a system that helps parents determine their child’s exact foot shape from home.
For example, do you know whether your child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet? Do you know whether your child has a high instep or not? This will help determine the final shoe size that your child should wear. I help parents determine their child’s exact foot size from home in a different article I wrote:
Now that you know your child’s exact foot size let’s take a look at the best shoes for children with high arches. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases.
Best Shoes for Children with High Arches
The shoes I recommend below can fit children with medium (M), wide (W), or extra wide feet (XW). Just look at the description below each shoe to find out what type of foot shape that shoe is capable of fitting.
Get in Touch With Us for a Personalized Suggestion
Do not hesitate to contact me if you believe your child can benefit from wearing an orthotic or if you are looking for a different pair of shoes to accommodate your child’s high arches:
Do I Need to Provide My Child with High-Top Shoes for Extra Support?
I want to clarify this point as several parents seem to have this question in common. High-top shoes don’t necessarily provide better ankle support. In fact, some regular sneakers provide better ankle support compared to high tops.
The key is to provide your child with shoes that come with firm heel counters. Next time you go shoe shopping grab a pair of sneakers or high tops and press on the heel counter of the shoe to make sure it feels firm. Take a look at the image below for better visualization purposes:
If your child has high arches and complains about foot pain, don’t simply wait for the condition to resolve on its own. I know many pediatricians advise parents to wait until the condition resolves on its own, however by taking early action you can prevent the condition from getting worse and even correct structural abnormalities in your child’s gait before it affects other joints.
I know that in certain cases surgery might be recommended to help treat high arches that lead to pain and lack of stability. It’s important to try to avoid a more invasive option by trying the correct type of shoes and orthotics first.
Let me know if you have any questions or if there are any specific shoe brands or shoe styles that have worked well for your child’s high arches.