Last Updated on October 9, 2023 by Martina McKeough
I thought I would do a comprehensive guide for people looking for a pair of shoes and considering TOMS. In particular, do TOMS have arch support or not?
For some people like myself proper arch support in shoes is a must-have to prevent foot pain and increase comfort. If shoes don’t have this feature I tend to give them a pass or consider whether they would work with orthotics for extra support.
Just for clarity, I’m going to be talking in particular about the Alpargata style as this is what most people think of when they think of TOMS. The brand does do other types of shoes and boots which may have different features.
Here’s everything you need to know about TOMS Alpargata style shoes and their insoles.
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Do TOMS Shoes Have Arch Support?
TOMS shoes do not have significant arch support and the insole in the shoes is extremely thin and basic. You can see from my pictures that the cushioned insoles are basically flat and have no way of supporting your arch.
The lack of arch support with the insole isn’t helped by the fact that the soles of the shoes are completely flat as well. As they have little shape there is not only no support but very little cushioning as well.
As you can see the exterior of the shoes has canvas uppers. This material isn’t particularly supportive and won’t help with stability when you are wearing them. Plus the shoes don’t have much ankle support which would indirectly help with arch support.
So what does this all mean if you are thinking of buying a pair?
Well, the reality is that TOMS shoes were never designed by the brand to be orthopedic shoes and they have never claimed to help foot problems. Many people like my sister-in-law love them because she finds them extremely comfortable but she doesn’t have any major foot problems.
If like me you have flat feet and plantar fasciitis you are going to have a problem. TOMS is not going to be a great choice of shoes for you because they are only going to aggravate your problems and cause foot pain or discomfort. The only solution to this is to buy a different type of shoe or add arch support inserts to help.
Toms Insoles – Comfort vs. Arch Support
Plenty of people find TOMS comfortable shoes and that is primarily because of their insoles which have reasonable cushioning. Couple with the sole’s flexible outsole they initially appear to be foot-friendly.
However, when I look more carefully inside the shoes I can see an insole that has an additional stitched section in the place where I usually would expect arch support.
This stitched section is slightly raised and marginally thicker than the rest of the insole but it in no way offers good arch support. When I contrast this to the insoles in my orthopedic shoes it becomes even more glaringly obvious that whilst the cushioning is ok for shock absorption they don’t have sufficient support for my feet.
Do TOMS Have Removable Insoles?
In the pair of TOMS that I have the insole is glued down however only very lightly. It is quite obvious that with minimal effort it would be possible to remove this insole and add arch support with a different insert or custom orthotics.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend adding arch support inserts on top of the current inserts because TOMS are relatively snug-fitting shoes. By adding more bulk to the inside of your shoes you are likely to find that they become too tight.
Whilst taking the insole out is doable do bear in mind that once you do this you won’t be able to send them back if the fit is still not right for you. If you do this regularly to make your shoes fit better then it might be worth the gamble particularly if you love the design of the shoes.
Can You Put Orthotics In Toms?
Adding orthotics to Toms is perfectly possible and makes sense if you want arch support to help keep your feet supported. Unsupportive shoes simply don’t suit everyone which is why orthotics are now so popular to make a pair of shoes more comfortable for the wearer. I have added them to almost all of my shoes without too many problems.
To do this you can put them in over the standard TOMS insoles or take the existing inserts out to add the inserts or orthotics that you want. As I mentioned earlier they are not stuck firmly so this shouldn’t be too difficult.
Try and buy a thin low profile orthotic so it fits properly into the canvas uppers. If you don’t do this you are going to have a problem. I remember a doctor once giving me an orthotic to use in my shoes that was so big and bulky that it never got used because it wouldn’t fit into any of my shoes.
If you are using a larger orthotic then you are definitely going to need to size up in the shoes.
I find that 3/4 length orthotics work better in TOMS instead of full-length insoles because of the snug design of the shoes and the slightly narrow toe box. I also much prefer flexible orthotics rather than the rigid style in this type of shoe as TOMS shoes allow a fair amount of foot movement.
As you can see my 3/4 length orthotic low profile orthotic slips neatly into these TOMS and doesn’t cause any sizing issues.
If you get your orthotic size right you can modify your TOMS so that you can deal with issues like flat feet and plantar fasciitis which need that extra arch support.
Are Toms Shoes Good For Your Feet?
So if TOMS don’t have arch support does that mean you are good for your feet?
Well, the fact is that there are only so many brands that are recognized as orthopedic footwear manufacturers. The American Podiatric Medical Association is a great site where you can see who has been given their stamp of approval.
Now just because a shoe brand isn’t on this site doesn’t mean they are necessarily bad but it does mean that their shoes are less likely to be suitable for anyone with problem feet.
Plenty of shoe brands that we all know and love don’t make that list so I would suggest you only worry about it if you do have an issue with your feet and need shoes with extra features and support.
TOMS shoes do have plenty of good features for example:
- They are lightweight which means they are super easy to wear.
- They have a flexible sole and upper which means that they help with your natural foot motion.
- The canvas material on the upper is also ideal for summer use and they are stylish.
- The cushioning is good as well plus they are vegan-friendly.
However, they also have some big cons:
- The lack of arch support means that they are relatively unsupportive shoes which can exacerbate existing foot issues.
- Whilst they have cushioning it is nowhere near the level of a good pair of sneakers.
- Canvas shoes are fine for summer but they do offer less foot protection than leather shoes.
- TOMS are not designed for walking long distances or for standing on hard surfaces for any significant period of time because of the thin soles.
- They don’t have brilliant traction for stability and wouldn’t be suitable to wear in heavy rain or on uneven terrain.
Personally, I don’t believe these are the best choice of shoes for good foot health but they are fine if you are using them for short periods of time and not walking long distances or standing for too long in them.
Why Arch Support Is Important
Why does arch support matter and should you be looking for shoes that have it?
My view is that arch support is essential for people with flat feet, anyone who suffers from overpronation, individuals with plantar fasciitis and people with arthritis who need more support in their shoes to protect their joints. You could also use it if you are standing for long periods during the day.
Here are some of the ways it can help in a shoe.
Arch Support Helps To Stop Overpronation and Supination
If you have never heard of these people you aren’t alone. I was clueless when I was told that the source of my tendonitis was because of supination.
I’m not a podiatrist so I won’t go into the mechanics of the problem. All you need to know is some people’s feet tend to lean inwards which is overpronation and some like mine veer outwards which is supination. Ideally, your foot should do neither and stay in a neutral position. If it doesn’t you are at risk of foot pain, calluses, tendonitis and a whole host of other foot problems.
Arch support helps to keep your feet in the right position which is why I need it in my shoes.
Extra Support Helps With Shock Absorption
Your arch is a part of the body that is a natural shock absorber. When you have a good arch on your foot it can reduce the impact on your joints when you are walking or doing sport.
Flat feet like mine don’t have that which is why I want shoes with it in to give my feet that extra protection.
It Reduces Strain On Your Feet
A lack of arch support causes strain on your feet causing problems like plantar fasciitis. Good arch support helps to eliminate a good part of that strain reducing the likelihood of these problems.
The Support Increases The Comfort Of Your Shoes
Finally, when you have poor arches they can cause you foot pain. Having arch support helps to eliminate this making your shoes more comfortable.
Best Insoles For Toms
As I mentioned earlier if you want to use orthotics or insoles in your TOMS then you need low-profile ones. I would recommend half size not full orthotics simply because of the design of the shoes however if you want full size ones you are going to need to size up.
These are some of the inserts and orthotics that would work:
I like Powerstep insoles in general so these 3/4 size ones should be good for your shoes.
This particular pair has neutral arch support that is designed to stop that stress on your feet and joints. You may get away with using this without removing the existing cushioning in the TOMS.
These XKC insoles would also work.
These orthotic insoles are made from EVA and can wick away sweat which is useful especially if you want to wear your TOMS shoe barefoot.
Obviously there is also no reason why you can’t go to a podiatrist and get custom orthotics made to fit.
Shoes Like Toms With Arch Support
If you love a brand name then obviously you may want to stick with TOMS shoes however as ever a bunch of copycat versions of their shoes are now available and some of them have arch support.
Remember it is always easier to buy shoes that fit and support you properly from the start rather than messing around with orthotics and inserts.
BOBS are a great copycat version of TOMS but they have arch support.
Sketchers have created a special insole system that is podiatrist-certified which gives you extra support and helps with your foot alignment.
These aren’t identical but they are from my favorite orthopedic shoe brand Vionic which makes some of the best shoes out there with arch support.
I have been wearing Vionics for a good few years now and found they are one of the few shoe brands out there that really help with my tendonitis plus they are super comfortable.
Whilst I love Vionics I should say they are much more expensive than TOMS so if you are on a budget you are better off with the Sketchers.
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