Let me start with the good news: if you have flat feet you can still be a very successful runner. You can manage to run injury free for a long time if you put the right attention to your training, your warning signs and your footwear.
Here’s an overview of the shoes we recommend. Continue reading for an overview of the anatomy of flat feet, what are the potential issues with running and what shoe companies have done to address these issues.
Just because you have flat feet it doesn't mean you can't run fast, in lightweight running shoes. These shoes are lighter, more responsive but still provide good comfort and a safe support.
Sometimes, especially when your ankles aren't that strong - you'll need extra stability. These shoes are some of the most supportive out there.
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.
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.
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 shoe 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).
In the past 5 years, the conventional model of “neutral > stability > motion control” has been put into question by a series of scientific tests and currents such as barefoot running and minimalism.
No, you don’t necessarily need a stability or motion control shoe if you have flat feet. Some flat footed runners thrive in neutral shoes, but my experience is that this is the minority. I would advise runners to start in a stability shoe and only later experiment with a neutral shoe. Remember, flat feet is only one of your unique characteristics. What works for you might not work for someone else and vice-versa.
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