Last updated on February 16th, 2024
Wearing shoes that don't fit properly can cause discomfort and pain for individuals with flat feet, whether they are standing, walking, or running. In addition to chafing, bunions, and foot pain, wearing ill-fitting shoes can also raise the risk of long-term injuries.
Dr. Kristina Quirolgico, a sports medicine physiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, explains that wearing improper shoes can lead to conditions such as plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, and bursitis, as well as discomfort in the knees, hips, and back.
Finding fashionable and reasonably priced shoes that offer adequate support for those with flat feet, as well as a comfortable cushioned insole, can prove to be quite a daunting task.
Therefore, we undertook extensive research and sought advice from specialists. This comprehensive compilation of the best shoes for flat feet encompasses a wide array of choices to suit every individual's taste and financial means.
Before we get into our recommended sneakers, it's important to mention that everyone has different preferences and needs, so it may be beneficial to consult a podiatrist who can assess your specific foot condition and direct you towards the best footwear options for you.
Asics Gel-Kayano 28 - Women's Running Shoes
|- Mako Blue/Barely Rose
- Stability for a smooth and responsive ride
- heel-drop: 13 mm
- weight: 258 g/9.1 oz
- designed for neutral/overpronation
- external heel counter for rearfoot support
- FF BLAST™ cushioning in the midsole
- new GEL® technology shape delivers a smooth stride
ASICS sneakers have consistently gained popularity in our evaluations for their exceptional ability to offer stability, support, and comfort. This specific pair has been crafted to ensure your comfort and coolness, featuring a mesh upper that facilitates ventilation and a robust foam foundation that delivers outstanding cushioning.
The sneakers are perfect for individuals who have low arches and experience overpronation. Overpronation occurs when the foot excessively rolls inward, causing uneven weight distribution and can be a result of having low arches. Individuals with flatter feet are more susceptible to overpronation and therefore require a stability running shoe, like this one, to prevent potential injuries. An online reviewer with flat feet also attests to the suitability of these shoes for various activities, including running, walking, and working in retail.
adidas Ultraboost 22 - Running Shoes
|adidas Ultraboost 22
|- regular fit
- lace closure
- adidas PRIMEKNIT textile upper
- Linear Energy Push system
- BOOST midsole
- Stretchweb outsole with Continental™ Better Rubber
- Yarn in upper contains 50% Parley Ocean Plastic and 50% recycled polyester
Drawing on extensive testing, we endorses Adidas' cushioned sneakers. Adidas has proven to be the most comfortable sneaker brand for individuals with flat feet. This sentiment is shared by numerous Amazon shoppers, one of whom claims that these sneakers were a game-changer for their flat feet and has since recommended them to multiple family members.
As per the brand, these shoes come equipped with a stable and grippy outsole that is light and elastic. Additionally, they incorporate Adidas' unique Boost foam, which contains pockets of cushioning dispersed throughout to absorb impact and propel you forward. This makes them ideal for running on both treadmills and roads. We also found the shoes are convenient as they can be effortlessly slipped on and off.
Weighing in at three pounds, these shoes lean towards the heavier side, with some reviewers noting their bulkiness, especially during workouts. Nevertheless, numerous customers express gratitude for the level of comfort, support, and breathability the shoes offer.
What does 'flat feet' mean?
Around 30% of individuals acquire flat feet, making it a fairly prevalent condition.
Individuals with flat feet have arches on the inside of their feet that collapse under pressure. When people with flat feet stand, their feet turn outward and the entire soles touch the ground. This condition can affect one foot or both feet, and in some cases, a slight arch may still be present.
Flat feet can manifest as either a congenital trait or an acquired condition. While certain individuals are naturally born with flat feet, others may develop this condition as a result of various factors such as muscle weakness caused by injury, aging, or excessive strain on the feet over time.
Those who have a tendency to overpronate, meaning their feet tilt inward while walking or running, are more likely to develop flat feet. This overpronation adds extra pressure on tendons, muscles, and ligaments, causing the arches to collapse and flatten. As a result, collapsed arches and flat feet are commonly considered synonymous.
Without proper support from footwear, flat feet can cause significant discomfort in the feet, ankles, and heels. Over time, this can result in problems with the knees, hips, and lower back. To rebuild collapsed arches, one option is to use inserts in existing shoes for added arch support. However, if this method proves ineffective or if you naturally have flat feet, it is crucial to invest in shoes specifically designed to alleviate foot pain.
How to know if I have flat feet?
To ensure a successful shoe shopping experience, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of your feet and how they operate. Evaluating elements like arch height, pronation patterns, toe box preferences, and foot width will enable you to choose shoes that offer excellent support and reduce the likelihood of harm.
If you have been enduring persistent foot pain, it is recommended to seek guidance from a podiatrist or orthopedist as a starting point. These medical professionals can evaluate any underlying concerns and offer tailored suggestions according to the unique shape and requirements of your feet.
By the way, some running stores, such as Fleet Feet and Road Runner, provide complimentary foot scanning services.
If you lean towards a hands-on method, you have the option to inspect your current footwear, preferably a set of sneakers. Begin by evaluating the pattern of wear on the bottom of the shoe, as this can provide insight into your foot type. According to an article authored by Katherine J. Coyner, M.D., for UConn Health, "If you notice that the inner soles of your shoes tend to wear down, it suggests that you overpronate and likely have a low arch." In simpler terms, if the area of the inner sole near the ball of your foot and big toe exhibits the most wear, it indicates overpronation, which is commonly associated with having flat feet.
Dr. Quirolgico, in the meantime, proposes alternative approaches that eliminate the need for footwear:
- Take a moment to observe the impression left by your damp foot on the floor following a shower. A typical arch will reveal itself through a lack of any imprint in the inner arch region. Conversely, if the entire foot is imprinted, it is probable that you possess flat feet.
- Take a moment to face a mirror and examine your feet. Should the inner arch make contact with the ground, it is an indication of having flat feet.
According to Dr. Quirolgico, it can be more challenging to identify high arches in comparison to normal arches. Nonetheless, if your arch height remains unchanged when you are sitting or standing, it is possible that you have high arches. In such instances, it is advisable to look for shoes specifically designed for high arches, as opposed to the ones suggested in this article, which are intended for individuals with low arches.
Guidance to buy shoes for flat feet
When embarking on your quest for flat feet-friendly footwear, it is crucial to take into account a number of vital elements. Here are the essential aspects to bear in mind as you traverse the path of shoe shopping:
Arch support: For individuals with flat feet, it is generally advised to wear shoes that offer adequate arch support. It is important to find shoes that have an arch that aligns with your inner arch, creating a slight incline in the sole. These designs provide built-in arch support, which helps to distribute weight evenly and maintain proper alignment for those with flat feet or overpronation.
Cushioning: Naturally, it is essential to guarantee a proper fit and overall comfort of the shoes (do not assume that shoes will eventually adapt to your feet — the ideal shoe should offer immediate comfort!). In general, individuals with flat feet should seek out shoes with generous midsole cushioning to effectively absorb impact. Seek out shoes featuring cushioning materials such as EVA foam or gel inserts — although it is important to note that excessive bulk may result in a sense of instability.
Toe box: When choosing shoes, it's important to consider the size of the toe box. Opting for a wider one allows your toes to have ample space to naturally spread out. However, be cautious of styles that have an overly spacious toe box, as this may cause discomfort and your toes to be squished if your foot slips forward while walking.
Stability: For individuals with flat arches who require additional support, a weightier type of footwear is optimal as it provides stability and control. A solid foundation and a sturdy heel counter, which encompasses the rear of the shoes and encloses the heel, can effectively minimize excessive foot mobility.
Traction: For the best results, it is recommended to select a shoe that has a durable and traction-enhancing sole. Rubber outsole proves to be an excellent option due to its flexibility, ability to resist slipping, and resilience against various weather conditions.
Heel height: There is no universal recommendation for heel drop when it comes to individuals with flat feet. The ideal heel drop, which is the difference in midsole height between the heel and the ball of the foot, can vary based on factors such as foot structure, personal comfort, and other considerations. Some people with flat feet might find that a slightly higher heel drop (8 to 12 mm) offers more support and relieves discomfort. Conversely, others may prefer a lower or zero-drop heel to promote a more natural position. Ultimately, determining the optimal heel drop for flat-footed individuals is a matter of personal preference and may require some experimentation.