Foot Pain in the Top of the Foot – The Best Shoes for Women with High Instep!

Pain In The Top Of The Foot

Editor’s Note: This post has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy on May 2022 and reflects an up-to-date selection of shoes for women with foot pain in the top of the foot.

One of the most common reasons why women experience foot pain in the top of the foot is from having a high instep. Do you feel like every single shoe style that you try rubs against the top of your feet? Finding a pair of shoes to accommodate a high instep can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience if you don’t know what shoe styles to look for.

How Does A High Instep Looks Like? – Let’s Find Out!

Do you know what the instep of the foot is? The instep is the top part of the foot, and when it’s high it can be challenging to find shoes that fit properly.

how-to-determine-instep-height
woman-with-a-high-instep

When women have a high instep there is a lot of extra foot volume that is going to take extra space inside the shoe.

If you have a high instep and you are not wearing wider or deeper shoes for your feet, you will experience pain in the top of your feet and you can also create several foot issues such as blisters, calluses, and corns.

The Complications of Having a High Instep – Foot Pain

Having a high instep means that there will be more pressure on the ball of your foot and the outside edge of your heel. While deeper shoes will take some of the pressure away from the ball of the foot and have your heel sitting deeper and comfortably inside the shoe, sometimes you will notice how you will need a wider shoe as well.

Some of the causes of having a high instep are:

✔️  Normal variant (i.e. some people just have higher insteps)

✔️  Hereditary (i.e. runs in your family)

✔️  Nerve trauma

One of the biggest issues with having a high instep and having a high arched foot at the same time is how the foot is unable to absorb the shock of heel strike during walking and running. This leads to creating more stress on the soft tissues of your foot and your legs.

This is how most women experience foot, knee, or ankle pain.

It’s important to choose shoe styles with good cushioning, depth and arch support that will definitely absorb more shock when you are walking and running, relieving the stress to your feet and knees and keeping your feet healthy.

If you have been experiencing foot pain in the top of the foot, you must start by checking the shoes that you are wearing. There are only a few shoe styles available that will accommodate your high instep, but the good news is that I know which ones these are from having fitted them before.

I am an expert when it comes to fitting women’s shoes since I have been working for a specialized shoe store for the last 10 years. Moreover, I have been helping women find the correct type of shoes and orthotics to reduce or fully eliminate the foot and leg pain that they were having. We specialize in women with foot and leg problems, but provide regular shoe fitting as well. Over the years I became familiar with the best shoes for women with high insteps.

Most people associate having a high instep with having a high arch and it’s important to understand that these are two very different things. While most people that have a high instep do tend to have a high arch, it doesn’t mean that if you have a high instep you will automatically have a high arch.

What Makes the Shoes I Recommend Effective for Women with High Insteps?

There are two key features that the shoes I recommend provide to accommodate your high instep, and most women are not even aware of them.

✅ Extra depth: This feature allows your feet to fit deeply inside the shoes and prevent the top part of your feet from rubbing against the top part of the shoes.

women's-shoes-with-extra-depth

✅ Wider openings: This feature prevents your toes from overlapping each other or rubbing against the side or top of the shoes.

women's-shoes-with-wider-opening

The issue is that shoes don’t come labeled as “extra deep” or with “wider openings” so women have a hard time finding them.

I will show you a selection of these shoes that will significantly reduce or fully eliminate the foot pain in the top of the foot shortly, but I want to make sure that you know your exact foot size first, in case you need to order the shoes online.

Do You Know Your Exact Foot Size and Foot Shape?

If you want to make sure you get your correct shoe size, there are three things you must consider:

☑️  The length of the foot.

☑️  The width of the foot.

☑️  The instep of the foot.

If you are unsure of your foot shape I suggest that you take a look at a different article I wrote where I help women determine their exact foot size from home:

How To Measure Your Foot Shoe Size – The Most Simple And Effective Way!

Best Shoe Brands for Women Experiencing Foot Pain in the Top of the Foot

When it comes to women’s shoes, there are 2 shoe brands that you might want to start getting familiar with:

  • New Balance
  • Orthofeet

Both of these shoe brands make some of the best fitting shoes for women. They make the deepest shoes that are also available in narrow, medium, wide, and extra wide widths.

There is one particular style made by New Balance that is one of the best shoes for women with a high instep, and if you have wide or extra wide feet, you will notice a difference right away. This shoe style also comes with the roundest toe-box, to make sure that your toes don’t get cramped and squeezed against one another.

Orthofeet is another shoe brand that makes great shoes for women with high insteps. Also available in wide and extra wide widths, these shoes will provide all the features you need such as support, stability, and traction.

Bear in mind that I only review shoe styles that I have fitted before since that is the only way for me to tell how well-made the shoes, the amount of support that they provide, and how they fit.

I know which shoes are deeper and which ones will fit your feet with a high instep from actually having fitted them before. Disclosure: Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases.

The Best Shoes for Foot Pain in the Top of the Foot ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Below you can find a selection of the best fitting shoes for women who are experiencing foot pain in the top of the foot. All of these shoes are available in different widths so make sure that you order your correct shoe width.

Everyday Sneakers


Mary Jane/Casual Shoes

What Shoe Size Should You Order?

Take a look at the description below each shoe to find out what shoe size you should order.


Do you happen to have a child who is complaining about foot pain in the top of the foot? I actually created an article where I describe the best children’s shoes for pain in the top of the foot:

Foot Pain In The Top Of The Foot – Stop Your Kids’ Foot Pain!

If you have a high instep and you are looking for casual shoes to wear, they must have similar features as the running shoes mentioned above. A good substantial outsole with arch support, good traction, and a firm heel counter.

The 2 most important features that your causal shoes must provide remain extra depth and wider openings. One added feature that your casual shoes must provide for you to feel more comfortable is to have an adjustable strap to hold your foot in place.

Flats and high heels are extremely hard to fit for a woman who has a high instep, since they don’t tend to be deep enough.

The casual shoe style that we want to look for a woman with a high instep is called the Mary Jane style. These will be the styles that will fit the shape of your feet the best, and you can wear them for longer periods of time since they provide support and stability for your feet.

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are having a hard time finding a specific shoe to accommodate the shape of your high instep:

comfortablewomenshoes@gmail.com 

I hope that his article has clarified what having a high instep means since most people are not aware of what it is and how it can affect the way your shoes feel. Finding shoes for women with high insteps is not easy, but I have provided you with a selection of the best shoe styles that will fit your high instep perfectly.

⚠️ Please remember that foot and leg pain is never normal, and you should always start by checking the type of shoes that you are wearing before you go visit your foot doctor. Something so simple such as wearing the correct type of shoes will keep your feet and legs healthy.

Have you found a particular shoe style that has reduced or eliminated the pain that you were experiencing in the top part of your feet? Please share your feedback  below so other women can benefit from it.

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58 Comments

  1. this was very helpful. I don’t have a high arch but I do have high insteps. I have injured both feet, probably by over exercising. I wear New Balance. What type of sandal or flip flops do you recommend?

  2. I live in a very hot humid climate–cannot tolerate suede. I am female, have high insteps, pain in the top of my feet with most athletic shoes. Have moderately high arches but not extreme. Is there a shoe you’d recommend for me?

    • This has been very helpful! I am looking for 2 shoes. My natural size is 7.5. I think I have an average width now. I have had bunion and bunionette surgeries 10 years ago. The bunions are gone, but I still have pain in my insteps. I want to walk more to be healthier, but I find that my feet throb after a long walk. I have naturally high insteps and high arches. I need a summer pair -I like the Keen look because it is open and my feet get hot. Here is my question…do I get 1 size larger in this brand also for walks? I don’t think that I need a wider shoe though, correct? Then for colder times, I get the New Balance in 1 size larger for walks, correct? Thank you for your help.

      • Hi Thalia –

        Which Keen pair did you like specifically? The reason I ask is that some of their styles are deeper than others. The Newport style is the deepest, but if there is another style that you like let me know and I will be able to tell you whether is capable of fitting a high instep or not. Keen is having a sale right now — 25% off their sandals —

        Below an example of the Newport style:

        Sandal for High Instep

        I can’t tell whether you need a wider shoe or not without looking at your feet. You can send me images of your feet to this email address: comfortablewomenshoes@gmail.com

        You should consider getting your shoes a half a size to a whole size larger of your actual’s foot size.This translates to 0.3 inches or 0.7 centimeters of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoes.

        The New Balance shoe style I recommend is one of the best fitting ones for women with high insteps.

        I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions. Stay safe.

  3. Thank you for posting this!
    Do most of the New Balance shoes run deep? I saw a cool green pair online only…

    • Hello Karen,

      Were you able to see the recommendations provided in the article? Are you looking for an everyday pair of sneakers or a pair of work/dress shoes? If you provide me with your foot/shoe size I will be able to send you some specific recommendations.

      • I have researched the brands in this article but was looking to see if you have a more specific brand(s) for women with both high instep AND high arch. Looking for walking shoe, summer sandal and a dress shoe. Thank you for your quick response! I have been wearing a 7.5 medium width.

        • Hello Karen,

          The issue with recommending certain brands is that every shoe style among a particular brand will fit a little different. For example, there is a particular shoe style made by New Balance that is deep and will accommodate a high arch, but that doesn’t mean that every single shoe style made by New Balance will work for your feet.

          The shoes styles that I will recommend below are the deepest ones that I have fitted before:

          Here is the walking shoe I recommend by New Balance:

          Shoe for High Instep and High Arch: Option 1

          Here is another walking shoe option made by the shoe company Orthofeet:

          Shoe for High Instep and High Arch: Option 2

          Here are the shoe options for a summer sandal:

          Summer sandal: Option 1

          Summer Sandal: Option 2

          Here are the options for dress shoes:

          Dress Shoes for High Instep: Option 1

          Dress Shoes for High Instep: Option 2

          I hope this helps! Please follow up with me and let me know if you were able to find shoes that worked well!

          • Thank you for taking the time to offer these suggestions. I will let you know how successful I am.

          • I have wide feet with high insteps. It’s so hard to find stylish shoes to wear to work and an evening out. I like ankle booties with a small heel, but I buy and return so many shoes/boots. Can’t shoes makers make a shoe that is cute and stylish while also making it accommodate high insteps and width.

          • Hello,

            Many women have brought up this concern.

            Shoe companies are able to keep the cost of mass produced shoes low by producing only the most common styles (medium width). The fewer variations there are, the less the cost is for shoe companies. So, for women with wide feet and high insteps, it gets harder to find shoes that are fashionable and fit properly.

  4. Here is THE dilemma of the woman with a high instep: you cannot wear athletic shoes to work! So, given this, what do we do if all flats and high heels cannot accommodate our feet?

  5. I have the opposite problem: low arch but still wide feet (size 8). What pair of work/dress shoes could you recommend?

  6. I have a high instep & low arch. At times in the past I have been able to find fashionable shoes that have elastic gores in the top of the shoe that accommodate the high instep. Are you familiar with any of these?

  7. What a helpful article! I have a high instep and large feet – size 11, and am having a hard time finding a good hiking shoe. I don’t like large / heavy hiking boots, but need something sturdy and supportive. Any thoughts?

      • Thank you! Tried both, but neither worked out. I did find the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX in 11W. I haven’t hiked in them yet (tomorrow!) but they fit well at home. The key was certainly getting them in wide so thank you for that tip! It seems obvious now, but I’ve never thought of getting wide shoes for me feet because I generally only wear shoes that are open over my instep and those I can get in normal width. Of course the up and over in a hiking shoe is helped out tremendously with the extra width. Thanks again!

    • Hi Valerie –

      Most Mary Jane shoe styles are not able to accommodate a foot with a high instep. However, the Mary Jane styles recommended in this article provide extra depth, which allows the woman’s foot to fit deeply inside the Mary Jane, preventing the top part of the foot from rubbing against the Mary Jane strap. I hope this clarifies.

  8. Can you recommend a short boot ? I wear a 7.5 x-wide. Would love to find a stylish bootie but can’t get me high I step into any of them.

  9. I loved your article! I didn’t had this problem before, but now after my pregnancy I found most of my boots and some sneakers don’t feel comfortable anymore. Now with the colder weather I’m in need to find some new options. Do you have a recommendation for some boots or warm shoes that could be comfortable and stylish enough to use all day at work?

    • Hi Katherine,

      Thank you. Do you feel like a lot of the shoes put a lot of pressure on the top of your feet? Are you experiencing pain in the top of your feet? Do you have a high instep? Are you looking for a waterproof and insulated hiking boot or a snow boot? Once I have the answer to those questions I will be able to send you specific shoe recommendations.

  10. Hi hopefully you will see this post. 😊🤗 I have a high instep and a bunion. In addition a fractured foot that never healed properly (no insurance). That was in 2013 but my foot is always in pain plus I walk to and from work every day 6 miles. Also on my feet 9 hrs I’m 55 yrs old so it’s has taken a toll on my entire body now. Barely can walk. So my question is what sneakers do you recommend I can wear sneakers to work. I need wide or extra wide. Thank you

    • Hello Su,

      I hope you are well.

      We need to look for shoes with a substantial outsole and a firm heel counter to properly support your feet. In addition, the shoes need to provide extra depth (to accommodate your high instep), and rounder toe-boxes (to prevent the shoes fro putting pressure on your bunion).

      Do you need wide or extra wide? There is a big difference between these two. If you are unsure of your foot shape I suggest that you follow the instructions on this article:

      How to Measure Your Foot Shoe Size – The Most Simple and Effective Way!

      It will also be helpful to know what are the current shoes you are wearing.

      You can find my shoe recommendations below but like I mentioned before you need to order them in the correct length and width:

      Option 1

      Option 2

      Option 3

  11. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I have a very hard time finding shoes which is unfortunate because I love to buy shoes. I have a high arch and high instep, so most shoes, especially boots or push on styles of shoes aren’t deep enough for me to get my foot in. Also, heels that have straps across the top, the straps are too short. I prefer a round toe box. To make matters worse, I have an allergy to fomahldhyde resin so shows that use glue on the insoles are a problem for me. After wearing for a few hours, the glue warms up and the vapors and residue is absorbed by my sock and cause my feet to start burning. The only brand I have found for everyday shoes is Simple. But, they went out of business and recently began making shoes again. Do you have any suggestions for shoes that I could wear that would give me variety, style, and comfort!

    • Hello Melissa,

      Do you know if your feet are narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide?

      I also need to know from which country you are contacting me to check what specific shoe brands and shoe styles are available in your area.

  12. Hello! I am looking for some help for my son. He is 12. He’s just barely out of the kids size shoes (6.5 men’s or 8 in women’s). He has a high instep and wider feet. He doesn’t care if he gets a “woman’s shoe” as long as it’s a gender neutral color. Because his feet are still growing, I don’t want to spend a ton of money on something he will outgrow. Any recommendations on a $60-$80 pair with a wide and deep footed? Thanks so much!

    • Hello Cassandra,

      I am happy to help.

      Keep in mind that a women’s shoe size 8 translates to a kids’ shoe size 6 1/2. This means that your son is still in children’s shoe sizes. He will be out of kids’ shoe sizes once he is bigger than a shoe size 7.

      As far as shoe recommendations concern, I suggest looking for shoes that provide extra depth and rounder toe-boxes.You didn’t specify whether your son has wide or extra wide feet so choose the shoe width accordingly as the shoes I recommend are available in wide (W) and extra wide (XW):

      Option 1 Choose wide or extra wide

      Option 2 I know this is out of the price range you mentioned but it’s a very good shoe in terms of quality, support, and provides extra depth.

      Option 3 Not as deep as the two other options.

      • Hi again. Thank you for your reply. He has wide feet. Not extra wide. Do you have any suggestions for women’s shoes that provide extra depth? Thanks so much for your help!

        • Hello Cassandra,

          If your son has wide feet you need to make sure that you choose the shoes in wide widths (W) instead of extra wide (XW) widths. All of the shoes that I recommended for your son are available in wide widths.

          Are you looking for a pair of sneakers or a different type of shoe?

  13. Hello,
    In 2019 you recommended the New Balance 990v4 for women with “thick feet”. My daughter needs shoes for high instep/vamp. By now I cannot find the New Balance 990v4 anymore. Is there a newer version?
    Thank you so much!

    • Hello Birgit,

      The New Balance 990V4 is not available anymore, they upgraded it to the 990V5 style. However, the 990V5 is only available in grey, navy, and black colors.

      What shoe size does your daughter wear? If she is in kids’ shoe sizes the 888V2 is a great choice as it provide the same levels od depth as the 990V5.

      • She can’t find women’s shoes that she can fit in. So she desperately got men’s shoes size 8.5.
        The are wider, but still not high enough. Since she lately has to do a lot of walking on campus, her feet are red on top now. This is the reason I searched online today and found your page . Nobody ever told us that what she has is called high instep. So I am thankful for the great information I found because of your page.
        You are a rockstar! Thank you so much!

  14. I have two issues with my feet fallen arches that causes high instep due to swelling I can never find a shoe especially in summer it’s like what can I wear I hate summer because I can’t find anything so I’m wearing slippers all year long I got measured as a EEEEE

    • Hello Darlina,

      Have you tried sandals made by Orthofeet? They are available in extra wide widths and provide extra depth, so they might work for your feet:

      Option 1 Make sure that you select the extra wide wide (X-Wide). This sandal is adjustable in 3 different places.

      Option 2 This is a closed toe sandal. Also order the extra wide (X-Wide)

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