Flat Foot: What is it
The arch of the foot is formed by the tarsal and metatarsal bones and strengthened by ligaments and tendons. It allows the foot to support the weight of the body in the erect posture with the least weight.
The height of the arch determines pronation and foot type.The arch height of the foot can easily be checked using the wet feet test.
People with a Low arch do not have a distinct curve along the inside of the foot. The imprint taken in a wet test may show nearly the entire foot. People with low arches are more likely to overpronate which can result in injuries. Insufficiently expressed arches are called low or fallen arches. The term flat feet applies to the arch which is sitting on the ground completely.
Runners with flat feet need to put extra care in choosing the best running shoe
Your foot arch is your natural shock absorption system. Nature designed it so that when you put your body weight over your feet the shock is absorbed by this mechanism in order to alleviate the impact (and subsequent injuries) that would otherwise hit your feet, ankles, knees and hips.
A flat foot is the most visible sign of overpronation, meaning that your arch collapses during the impact on the ground. As a consequence, your ankle twists inward and your knees overcompensates.
Flat feet are a particular concern for runners, as during the running gait the arch is supposed to support on average 3 times their body weight.
Shoes Technologies Aimed at Runners with Flat Feet
Over the last 20 years or so, all the major running footwear producers developed specific technologies aimed at helping runners with flat feet run in comfort and safety.
The key words you have to remember are: stability, support and motion control.
Support is what a flat foot runner needs. When looking at shoes reviews or technical specifications, any indication of “added support” means you are headed in the right direction. Stability is an industry standard term that categorizes running shoes aimed at helping overpronation: every brand has their own collection of Stability Running Shoes. Motion Control are Stability Shoes for the most severe overpronators: they include the solutions of stability shoes and focus in enhancing them.
The main technology found in Stability shoes is a medial post of dual density foam. Footwear producers inject a harder compound of foam right below the medial side of the arch and sometimes extended all the way to the heel. It is easily recognizable as a darker (almost always gray) piece of foam on the inside of the midsole (view picture).
Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet
I am a 6’2″, 180 lbs runner who has been running for more than 10 years. I have tried most of the shoes out there and I have a good understanding of which ones work and which ones don’t for runners with flat feet.
Here are my recommendations:
Stability Running Shoes
Don’t think that since you have flat feet you automatically need a Motion Control shoe: a well constructed Stability shoe can be the best choice for a runner with a low arch.
Fast stability running shoes
Up to a few years ago, stability and motion control were categories associated with heavy, clunky shoes. Luckily it is no longer the case and there are many options for lightweight, fast running shoes that offer a great degree of arch control.
Here are some of our favorites:
Some Tips for Flat Feet Runners
- Run Barefoot. If you have the chance, add barefeet runs on a softer surface (on a beach for example) to your running schedule. Running barefoot stimulates and strengthens your foot’s natural muscles, improving your natural shock absorption capabilities.
- Try the Nike Free or the Nike Free 3.0 v4. If running barefoot is not a viable option for you, the Nike Free technology is your second best option to train your foot’s muscles.
- Pick up a ping-pong ball with your toes. A simple exercise anybody can do at any time, even while watching tv. Recommended by many podiatrists, this exercise will give you incredible results in the long run.
Exercises for runners with flat feet
While it is not possible – at least not after a certain age – to get rid of flat feet, there are many exercises that can help you with your condition. Strengthening the involved muscles, improving flexibility and balance can all be achieved through some simple exercises.
We put together a little book to help you run without pain and injury. Let us deliver it to your inbox!
Or, go back to our recommended running shoes for flat feet.