Flat Feet and Running
Many people with flat feet don’t have major problems on a day-to-day basis. For others, however, flat feet means pain in the arch or heel, feet that tire easily, or even back and leg pain.
Flat feet aren’t a reason to avoid running, and with the right shoes, even those with flat feet can enjoy the miles.
Mechanics of Flat Feet
Runners with flat feet tend to be overpronators, meaning that their ankles twist inward, putting additional stress on the knee. Most runners with flat feet require stability shoes to prevent their arches from flattening, causing the ankles to twist inward.
While proper fit is important for all runners, those with flat feet should take special care when buying their running shoes. We highly recommend visiting a specialized running store that allows you to try all pairs on and run on a treadmill in-house to check gait.
We’ve explored the basics of pronation and shoe choice here.
The Wet Test
The easiest way to tell if you have flatter than average feet is the wet test. Simply wet the bottom of the foot and step on a towel. If the imprint left has little to no inward curve in the middle, you may want to consider shoes with stability features if you have had recurring knee or ankle injuries.
Stabilizing Flat Feet
Stability shoes work to keep the foot and ankle straight through foot strike.
With features such as medial posts and shanks (typically plastic pieces within the sole) and firmer, denser foams than in typical cushioned shoes, stability shoes tend to be a bit more rigid and heavier to keep the foot and ankle in proper position.
Stronger Feet, Better Running
In addition to stability shoes, runners with flat feet should also consider strengthening their feet. One of the most effective foot exercises is to pick up a marble, ping pong ball, or even a towel with your toes.
The lifting and curling will help to strengthen toes and muscles in the foot, helping to train the foot to stabilize itself. Even runners without flat feet can benefit from stronger feet, as it allows for great agility and helps to prevent injuries to the area.
Brooks Ravenna 4
The Brooks Ravenna is a no-nonsense, traditional stability shoe.
Our testers found the Ravenna 4 to be well balanced and comfortable, despite a slightly narrow toe box.
The sole features a touch of arch support, but it isn’t so high that it’s bothersome or painful.In addition, it has solid, substantial support, with a plastic shank in the mid-sole providing the bulk of the support.
To round out the support, the heel is split, with a denser, harder foam directly under the arch and softer external cushioning in the heel.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 9
The Mizuno Wave Inspire 9 is a stable shoe that doesn’t sacrifice support or cushioning, but still clocks in at a slightly lower weight than many of its competitors.
The most popular of Mizuno’s stability offerings, this update was minor, with the most changes occurring in the upper to improve the overall look and fit.
For support, the Inspire 9 uses Mizuno’s wave plate, which is a plastic plate running through the shoe. The Inspire 9’s wave plate begins near the heel and runs through to the arch, stopping before the forefoot for flexibility.
The Asics GT-2000 is part of a long line of highly popular stability shoes.
With such a long tradition, the GT-2000 is a well-balanced, comfortable, and well-priced shoe that appeals to a wide swath of runners looking for a little additional stability.
Despite a complete overhaul with this update, the GT-2000 retains the same smooth feel of its predecessors. Though it’s heavier than some of its competitors, it continues to be a top seller.
With redesigned support features, the GT 2000 offers a bit more stability than previous versions of the shoe. Overall, our testers thought that it would make a great everyday trainer for runners that need a bit more support.
Brooks Adrenaline 13
Brooks’ Adrenaline 13 is a longtime favorite among their stability options, and this update will not disappoint its fans.
The Adrenaline 13 has many features loved by Brooks fans, including Omega Flex Grooves, which allow for a smoother transition.
For support, there is a medial post that gets firmer toward the inside of the sole unit, slowing the roll outward.
With a snug upper fit and a smooth, flexible ride, the Adrenaline 13 is a well-balanced and great shoe for everyday training.
Saucony Hurricane 15
The Saucony Hurricane 15 has all of the features of its predecessors, and, overall, is a well-cushioned, stable shoe that does have any unnecessary weight or bulk.
It works well for runners with flat feet and heavier runners looking for a smooth, comfortable ride. Keeping with a formula that has worked for a large number of runners, the Hurricane 15 saw minimal updates beyond cosmetic changes.
To encourage a midfoot strike, it features an 8mm heel to toe drop and a more flexible sole. Providing support is a firm wedge on the inner side of the shoe and a rounded crash pad.