Do you have flat feet? You might not even know it. Approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population has this common problem.
Flat feet can be a painless condition. Many people never have a problem arise because of their flat feet. Other people experience plantar fasciitis, shin splints, tendinitis and joint pain.
Some people develop flat feet in childhood. Their arches never develop fully. Other people experience fallen arches as their tendons loosen because of over-pronation, injury, illness or aging.
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How to Tell If You Have Flat Feet
If you get your feet wet and step on a surface where your footprint is visible, you can tell if you have high or low arches. Someone with high or normal arches will make a footprint that has only a small strip connecting the ball of the foot to the heel. Someone with flat feet will have a wider area connecting the front and the back of the foot.
You can also look for other signs of flat feet. The soles of your shoes may be worn more intensely on the inside if you have fallen arches. The upper part of the shoe may extend over the inside edge of the sole.
When you look at your ankle from the back, you may notice that the Achilles tendon curves outward at the heel so that it looks like a “J” or “L.” This is often a sign that you have flat feet.
If your feet are flexible, and arch will appear when you stand on your tiptoes. Most people with flexible flat feet don’t have any pain associated with the condition.
If you’re a runner or someone who spends a lot of time on his or her feet, you may be bothered by the condition. When you run, your foot hits the ground with more force than when you walk. This can exacerbate the mechanical imbalance.
How the Right Running Shoes and Insoles Can Help Flat Feet
The surface of your shoe’s foot bed can help or hurt your flat feet. If the insole doesn’t provide the proper arch support, you may experience increasing pain as you run, walk and stand.
A good insole will shift the inside of your foot so that your ankle is in a more neutral position. It will prevent your foot from rolling inward and help support the sole of your foot so that the tendons and fascia don’t put unnecessary stress on your bone structure. If you’re not a runner but you’re on your feet all day, insoles or supportive shoes can help withstand the stress that your feet experience.
Your arch is your foot’s shock absorber. When you run, you put about three times your body weight on your feet. If you have low arches, your body may feel the effects of that shock.
Choosing the Right Running Shoes and Insoles
Good insoles allow your foot to function normally while providing extra support. Researchers have found that using orthotics for flat feet can help encourage normal foot motion and maintain the fundamental integrity of the foot. They can help eliminate pain in your ankles, legs and hips that may be caused by compensating for your flat arches.
Running shoes and insoles that offer support usually have a contoured arch that will help absorb shock and maintain the proper foot position. Those that offer stability tend to reduce over-pronation, the rolling inward of your feet.
You don’t necessarily need specialized shoes or insoles for flat feet. However, if you’re already experiencing foot or joint pain from your low arches, you may find relief with supportive footwear. If your low arches don’t cause you pain, wearing the right running shoes or insoles can help prevent you from developing problems down the road.
The Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet
Some considerations to make when buying running shoes are:
We like the shoes below for their support and quality.
New Balance 1260v6
This shoe was developed for men and women with overpronation. The ABZORB Crash Pad reduces shock. Support at the midsole helps prevent your foot from falling inward. The arch offers medium support. It won’t hurt your foot more because it’s too supportive.
- Insole can be removed and replaced with an orthotic.
- Good for wide feet.
- Some claim that the shoe is too big or too wide.
- You may prefer softer cushioning.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17
The upper of this shoe is just as supportive as the foot bed. The adjustable saddle lets you customize the support around the central part of the top of your foot. The cushioning and stability are excellent
- Removable insole.
- Designed for people with mild to moderate overpronation.
- Ample sized toe box.
- Some wearers wish they came in more stylish colors.
- Supportive arch can take time to get used to.
Asics Gel-DS Trainer 21
This running shoe contains a gel cushioning system at the front and rear of the shoe. This helps absorb shock as you land and then converts it into power as you push off. The Duomax system enhances support and stability while retaining a lightweight feel.
- Lighter than many running shoes for flat feet.
- Propulsion truss mirrors the foot’s own connective tissue.
- May be noisy as foot strikes the ground.
- Limited colors.
Best Insoles for Flat Feet
Some considerations to make when buying insoles for flat feet are:
Superfeet Heritage Insoles
These insoles may offer more support than your running shoe alone. They have a high volume, with lots of cushioning. They also control your foot motion and align your feet properly.
- Foam molds to the contours of your feet as well as your shoe.
- Deep heel cup adds comfort and stability.
- Antimicrobial fabric reduces blisters and odor.
- May be too large to fit into your shoes comfortably.
SOLE Signature DK Response Footbeds
These insoles are accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association. They offer the maximum cushioning available. If they are too thick for your shoes, you might want to consider the thinner SOLE Signature EV Ultra Footbeds.
- Keep feet warm in cold weather.
- Moisture-wicking top layer reduces sweat.
- Can custom fit them to your foot using heat.
- May be too hot to wear in warm climates.
- May not be supportive enough for very flat feet or severe pronation.
Samurai Insoles Orthotics for Flat Feet
This brand is used by podiatrists to enhance foot stability and relieve pain caused by flat feet and overpronation. They are made according to conventional shoe sizes. Therefore, they are typically easy to fit.
- Thin design makes them fit into almost any shoe without trimming.
- Flexible and comfortable.
- Some people say that the insoles don’t wear well with heavy use.
- May not have more support than a running shoe for low arches.
The Bottom Line
If you have fallen or flat arches, you may benefit from added support under your foot. Custom-made orthotic shoes can be expensive. Luckily, many running shoes are designed for flat feet. You can cut back on your budget even more by using insoles that slide into the shoes you already have.