THE 5 BEST RUNNING SHOES FOR FLAT FEET
There are already so many blockers to motivation when it comes to running - lack of time or energy, bad weather, expensive gym memberships and gear. Anyone who is able to stick with a regular running routine has harnessed some serious willpower. But the worst de-motivator of all, the one that is sure to put you completely out of any fitness routine, is pain. No matter how annoying the other factors may be, they are all easier to overcome than dealing with pain. Yet millions of people with struggle with some type of physical pain while running, and among the biggest contributors is flat feet.
Flat feet are used to describe feet that have a low arch and contribute to “overpronation” running style. But fortunately, the pain they cause doesn’t have to hold you back from being a runner. Flat feet can make running uncomfortable, but this issue can usually be amended simply by wearing the right type of shoes.
Foot Arch - Normal vs Flat
The arch is the curve in your foot that acts as your body’s natural shock absorption system. Nature designed it so that when you put your body weight on 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. If you have a low arch, you will most likely experience pain throughout the feet, ankle, knees and lower leg muscles, as well as a lack of posture and discomfort through the hips and lower back.
If you have a healthy arch, your feet will not touch the floor completely when standing. However, a fallen arch can cause the whole sole of your foot to fall inwards and touch the ground when you stand. You can easily see how much contact your feet make with the ground by getting them wet and stepping onto a concrete surface (or, if we’re being honest, you can put on a pair of white socks and walk around your hardwood floors).
THE 5 BEST RUNNING SHOES FOR FLAT FEET
Don't let all that talk scare you. You can still be a runner with flat feet and enjoy an active lifestyle without all the pain. As I mentioned earlier, one of the greatest remedies to this problem is simply investing in the right pair of shoes. Detailed below are five running shoes that are designed for flat feet, and well received by runners who struggle from overpronation. Some keywords to look out for when shopping for shoes in this genre are “stability”, “support,” and “motion control.” These are all words that running shoe companies have developed over the years to describe shoes made for overpronators, or flat footed runners.
The ASICS GEL-Kayano (the most recent release is the 22, but 21 and 20 editions are not hard to come by on Amazon) maintains a nice blend of stability, for those who need it for mild to severe overpronation, along with good cushioning for a comfortable stride. For several years, the Kayano has been ASICS top-selling stability shoe and reviewers of the shoes claim that it is one of the most comfortable shoes they have ever worn - great for running but also everyday activities where foot pain may be present. One of the greatest running shoes for overpronators across the board - but don’t take it from me, take it from the other 1,500+ reviewers on amazon who give this one 5 stars.
- Soft gel bedding and foam allows a soft and smooth cloud under every step you take
- Wonderful stability, having a snug comfort promising a nice hold on your feet.
- Performance is strong and has a cutting edge design
- These are great for those who have experienced blisters and foot pain
- Price can be over $150
- Limited flexibility. Needs to be broken in.
- Limited traction, not versatile like a trainer.
The first edition of the Nike Air Zoom Odyssey was highly anticipated by the running community, and they didn't disappoint. The Odyssey was designed for those runners who are looking for a shoe that provides durable stability combined with a responsive cushioning underfoot. Many reviewers noted that this shoes fit perfectly when putting it on for the first time - no waiting time for them to be broken in. This comment is pretty standard with Nike across the board, as their lightweight construction and glove-like feel has become their shining differentiator in the industry ever since the release of the Nike Free several years ago. Also, many note that this shoe is very durable and great for high-mileage runners.
- Premium daily trainer running shoe. EXCELLENT stability and support
- Premium cushion for responsive transition and smooth ride
- Fly mesh and fly wire provide a snug fit and holds up very well for higher mileage
- Heel cushioning and forefoot cushioning are above average with the heel of the foot getting a solid 9 out of 10 in men's and 8 for women in most ratings. Forefoot comes in at 7 out of 10 for both men and women's rating
- Lightweight compared to other shoes in the "stability" group
- Price can be over $150
- Contrary to other shoes on this list, the Odyssey is an original release so it’s essentially in it’s “guinea pig” stage. Though it has received overwhelmingly positive results so far, it hasn’t been time tested or improved over several generations (maybe it doesn't need to be, but we can’t conclude that yet).
Adidas Supernova Sequence has received almost unanimous approval from the running community, largely due to the addition of the Boost midsole that makes this shoes incredibly comfortable. A slightly heavier shoe, the Sequence is too much shoe for speed sessions or races for some runners, but a solid trainer for the overpronator. The performance is particularly smooth for such a stable, durable shoe - with a fluid heel-toe transition and responsive pushoff.
- Has a smooth sole and plenty of cushioning
- Recommended for heel striking runners and heavier runners who aren’t bothered by the weight.
- Very durable, good high mileage shoe
- The decoupled heel helps with the absorbance of the shock intake, also helping your arch
- Very lightweight and the sleek design with micro layers and micro suede for ultra comfort and confidence.
- Price can be in the $130 range
- Slightly heavier shoe
- Some reviewers noted that the heel angle is a bit too high and feels uneven.
Brooks took the qualities we all loved about the previous GTS models and made them even better. Formerly, the segmented crash pad on the sole was just in the heel; in the 15, it extends the full length of the shoe, offering a smoother landing from heel-strike to toe-off. A top-selling stability shoe across the board that has maintained extremely high reviews from consumers since it’s original release several years ago. Many reviewers state that this is THE ONLY shoe they buy for their flat feet.
- Fashionable and balanced with blend, stability, cushioning and an updated "crash pad" for smoother transition
- DRB Accel shank which provides more support in your arch area
- New lacing system that helps with the security of the shoe while running at any speed through any climate or terrain
- Affordable - at or below the $80 range
- Tends to run a little small, some reviewers complained that when they ordered the shoe online it didn’t fit well. You might want to try this one on in-person before buying.
- Heel has less cushioning than most models
- Heavier Shoe vs other "stability" shoes
If you’ve tried other stability shoes like Kayanos or Brooks Adrenaline GTS and found the weight of them bothersome, this shoe is a great option for you as it is lighter but still gives a ton of support. With similar quality to those of the flagship Kayano, Asics provides another solid option for overpronators with the GT 2000. It’s a great option if you suffer from flat feet and have small ankles, or are a petit runner, as they seem to have had the most negative reviews from larger runners.
- Provides a very comfortable ride and a solid shoe for long runs
- Very stable with good arch engagement
- Pushes limits while retaining a light weight
- Comes in under the $100 price point
- Stability of of shoe tends to inhibit full movement. Some reviewers noted that they felt stiff even after being broken in.
- Upper portion of shoe is narrow which limits maximum comfort for larger sizes.
- Short laces tend to be problematic during run if not secured properly.
Be sure to thoroughly check out the reviews on Amazon for these shoes before you buy to see which you think might be the best fit for you. Not all flat feet should be considered equal, and some of these shoes might actually make you more uncomfortable. One reviewer made a great point, stating that as a flat-footed petit runner, she found a lot of stability shoes just put more stress on her slim ankles.
If you are a larger runner, you’ll find the heavy-ness of stability shoes less bothersome than a small runner with tiny ankles. But many runners find that it makes running more difficult to run in stability shoes as they are typically heavier than average running shoes. One thing you might consider if this is a dilemma for you, is to run barefoot or in shoes such as the Nike Free or Merrell running shoes.
After all this talk of support and stability, this may seem counterintuitive to run in your bare flat feet, but many podiatrists recommend running barefoot as an exercise for flat-footed runners as a way to strengthen the foot’s natural motion. Many runners in the reviews stated that after trying this exercise, they found that barefoot running, or running in a very lightweight shoes designed to feel like barefoot running, was actually the most comfortable way for them to deal with the pain of flat feet.
Another great exercise recommended by podiatrists for flat feet is to pick up a ping-pong ball with your toe. This super simple exercise that you can do while eating, working, or watching TV has been proven to strengthen the muscles in your foot and provide better stability overtime for flat-footed runners
It’s my hope that if you suffer from flat feet that you found some comfort while reading this article. Flat feet can be a real pain, but with the proper shoes and strengthening exercises you can overcome the discomfort and live a healthy active lifestyle
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