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
Click on the name of a shoe to go to the review.
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.
CONS: None which are prominent
Recommended for: The Nike LunarGlide 6 is perfect for those runners who are looking for lightweight stability shoe which provides plenty of cushioning throughout the entire stride.
CONS: Durability concerns
Recommended for: Runners with mild over pronation or runners seeking a little extra padding.
Recommended for: The New Balance 1260 v4 is excellent for those runners who overpronate and are looking for stability with the added bonus of plenty of cushioning for a gentle ride.
CONS: None that were prominent
Recommended for: Overpronators
Motion Control Running Shoes
Motion Control running shoes adopt the same solutions as Stability shoes, plus special sole unit/upper construction in order to lock your foot in position and support it throughout the ride.
TIP: many motion control running shoes have a raised arch of a hard material. It is designed to put your arch in the right position. But not all runners like it: if when you try the shoe on you can feel it during a simple walk, you will definitely feel it (and hate it) during your runs.
CONS: Less Cushion in the Heel
Recommended for: Overpronators, long distance running
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 Run+ 3 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.