Updated: January 22, 2021
Choosing the right running shoes for flat feet is important to prevent pain and injuries. People with flat feet don’t have arches, which are natural shock absorbers. Without those shock absorbers, we’re prone to joint and muscle pain. As well, people with flat feet tend to overpronate, meaning that as they set each foot down, they start with the outer edge of their heel and roll their foot excessively inward toward the arch. Overpronation causes stress to the feet, legs, and pelvis, resulting in pain and even injury.
Choosing the right running shoe depends on WHY those feet are flat. Sometimes people are born without arches, due to genetics. And sometimes people might develop “collapsed arches” because of weak muscles in their feet or an injury. Added arch support can be a boon for people with collapsed arches. But for people born without natural arches, arch support often ends up causing stress and pain, particularly to the knees.
Once you know whether added arch support is a good choice, there are a few other things to consider. First, look at the outsole. Many running shoes have an hourglass shape that tapers near the arches. A straighter outsole will accommodate a flatter foot, ensuring full contact with the midsole for more support. Also, because people with flat feet usually put more force on both their heels and their toes to compensate for not having an arch, extra support in those areas will help prevent discomfort and pain.
Finally, if overpronation is an issue, look for shoes with a medial post of dual density foam–this is a harder compound of foam that’s injected into the midsole under the arch. It’s often stands out visually, as a darker (usually grey) section of the midsole, and so can be easily identified when choosing new shoes.