For those with flat feet, running can be problematic, but that doesn’t mean they should keep you from hitting the pavement. Flat-footed persons are more prone to injury than their counterparts with normal arches, but with the proper running shoes, you can lessen or eliminate the risk. I would like to highlight the best options you can find in the market, but make sure you check our buyer’s guide. So let’s have a look at the alternatives:
Our recommended running shoes:
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What to consider when buying running shoes?
Flat feet are just that—flat. A flat-footed person either has a true flat foot or what’s known as a low-arched foot. Flat feet don’t provide proper support, meaning you might feel as if you’re running on two wet noodles. Without proper support, flat feet and low-arched feet tend to overpronate, resulting in the risk of injury to ankles, knees, and lower back. It’s important to note that not every foot is created equal. There are people with only one flat foot, and the other will have a normal arch.
Low arch vs, no arch
For those with flat feet, which is estimated to be 30 percent of the world population, the feet are flexible and will sit flat to the ground. They can be caused genetically or as the result of what’s known as “fallen arches,” that occur from injury or certain illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Low-arched feet will have a slight arch, although it can act more like a flat foot when running and is prone to the same overpronating. Some runners with a low arch might never be bothered. The weight and gait of the runner will also be a determining factor in how the feet will respond.
Having a low or no foot arch shouldn’t keep you from running. With the proper running shoes, you can have the world at your feet.
When running with any shoe, shock absorption is crucial for a safe run. For those lacking the appropriate arch, good shock absorption is needed within the midsole, A stiffer compression will absorb the shock and provide a more rigid step. This will prevent injury and should make the run more comfortable. If you’re running on a rough or grassy surface, it can be easy to lose balance and twist an ankle or fall. This can happen to any runner no matter what type of arch they have, but for the flat-footed and low-arched runner, it becomes more problematic.
You want to make certain to minimize the impact to the toe, heel, and midsole, which means finding a running shoe with overall good shock absorption.
Cushioning And Breathability
Flat-footed runners should not wear running shoes with a lot of cushioning and little midsole support as this can cause pronating. Running shoes for flat feet should be no different than running shoes for regular feet. Too much cushioning can be detrimental to the runner. Some runners have found running shoes with memory foam are not only uncomfortable but cause pronation or supination. Excessive pronation or supination can cause immediate problems, such as ankle twisting.
Breathability is an area you don’t want to overlook. When running, you need good airflow to keep feet from overheating. Running is an intense sport, and it doesn’t matter what the temperature is, your feet will get hot and sweaty. A mesh running shoe is best for allowing adequate airflow, and it’s paramount that not only will they prevent overheating but they are lightweight.
Support and Stability vs. Neutral
Long gone are the days of one-type-fits-all running shoes. As kids, running in Keds or Converse was something done without any thought about sports injuries. Running shoes are now designed for different feet and different needs. For flat-footed runners, it’s especially important to choose the right shoe, and that can mean deciding between neutral and stability running shoes. So which is best?
To know which type of running shoe you need, it’s best to know your gait, and if you aren’t sure about your stride, you can do one of two no-cost things. You can go to a specialized running shoe store and have an expert shoe-fitter determine your gait. If you don’t have a specialized store nearby, you can have a family member or friend record you when running on a flat surface or treadmill. Watching the recording will help you to see how your body moves as you run, especially between the feet and hips.
If you’re willing to pay to determine your gate, you can visit a physical therapist who can help you to determine what type of shoe is best for you.
A neutral shoe provides more flexibility without stability while support shoes will help with the inward or outward rolling of your feet It is possible to purchase mild-stability running shoes, and unfortunately, there is no one-type-fits-all for any runner, and for the flat-footed or low-arched runner, it might take some trial and error before you find the right fit.
You also need to consider the heel-drop, the amount of cushioning between the heel and the toe of the shoe. A typical heel drop ranges from none to about 16mm. If there is none, the toe and the heel are the same distance from the ground. For the flat-footed runner, this can cause discomfort. A heel-drop is said to prevent injury as it prevents the shock when the heel hits the running surface. A removable insole can also help the impact of your foot when hitting the ground. Some running shoes do come with removable insoles, and it’s a feature you’ll want to check for if you don’t always run with insoles in your shoes.
Because flat-footed runners can have more risk for injury, it’s important to have a shoe that fits perfectly and moves with your foot rather than the foot moving the shoe. There’s always going to be a break-in period with any running shoe, and if you purchase from a specialized shoe store, you will be expertly fit and most will accept returns within a certain period if for some reason the fit isn’t correct.
Flat-footed folks can be an active runner just like anyone else, and with the right fit, the risk of injury can be the same as a normal-arched runner. It’s important to take extra care to ensure your shoes have the features you need for a safe and comfortable run.