Selecting the Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet
If you are a runner with flat feet, your shoes can make all the difference. Don’t let mis-steps cause potential injury and issues down the road. Choosing the best running shoes now for your flat feet will make you feel physically better in the short-term, and alleviate potential serious problems in the long term.
First Things First: Why Run?
Running is an incredible, inexpensive method of exercise. It’s a great way to maintain proper health, and has a stunningly long list of benefits. Just scratching the surface:
- Running can be performed anywhere. There is no equipment, no ball, no gym membership and no expensive tools required to start running. Just two working legs.
- Running gives a great excuse to eat more delicious carbohydrates, as doing so can assist in performance and mood elevation in longer runs.
- Research has shown that runners have fewer disabilities and remain active longer than their sedentary counterparts. Additionally, runners generally have longer lifespans.
- Running produces tremendous calorie burn. A 160-pound person can burn over 850 calories in an hour of running.
- Exercise has been proven to assist in memory maintenance, and can reduce symptoms of dementia and protect the brain against Alzheimer’s, even for those with family histories of the debilitating mental disease.
Struggles apparent while running
Many runners can face serious difficulties due to improper footwear. If you are flat-footed, it is vital to purchase running shoes made specifically for people suffering from flat feet. This helps to avoid injuries both in the short- and long-term, and keeps you on track to break distance and speed personal bests, and stay in the best shape of your life.
Most runners simply select their shoes based on what is available. Others go slightly deeper and look at reviews, brands, and styles.
While there might be nothing wrong with the shoe itself, it might not be the most effective fit for your feet. No one foot is the same, even your own left and right!
Additionally, foot structure constantly changes, even once growth stops in your late teenage years. Skeletons shift and lower into the foot as years’ progress. This means that, even if you did not start out flat-footed, you could be now.
In this guide, we are going to walk you through the process of selecting the best running shoes for flat feet. Our goal is to ensure you can “put your best foot forward” in your running pursuits, whether they be casual or competitive. After all, running is not just an exercise, it’s a lifestyle.
Our Top Two Shoe Styles for Flat Feet
We at Shoe Guide put a tremendous amount of research into the shoes we selected as the best options for those with flat feet. To pick out the best running shoes for flat feet, we highly suggest you take some time to read into proper shoe anatomy in our article Anatomy of the Shoe.
Doing so can familiarize you with the proper terminology, and point out some important things to watch for when researching and buying running shoes for flat feet.
There are two main types of shoes that we highly recommend for those with flat feet: stability shoes and motion control shoes.
- Stability shoes are ideal for those with mildly collapsed arches, as they provide extended support for the foot arch as a priority.
- Motion control shoes are meant for people who have severely fallen arches, as motion control shoes restrict improper movement when running. These shoes offer strong arch support and an extremely stiff heel.
Best Running Shoes for Men and Women with Flat Feet
We have developed two tables showing what we consider to be the best running shoes for people with flat feet. One is meant for men with flat feet, the other for women with flat feet.
The Best Running Shoes for Men with Flat Feet
Our expert's rating
Nike lovers and those who value style
Lighter weight runners (say, under 180 lbs)
Doing more walking and than running
Those with wide, flat feet
Maximum traction and trail running
Moderate support for prontation
The Best Running Shoes for Women with Flat Feet
Our expert's rating
Nike lovers and those who value style
Lighter weight runners
Doing more walking than running
Those with wide, flat feet
Maximum traction and trail running
Moderate support for pronation
All ten of the options above were developed and manufactured specifically to aid men and women suffering from flat-footedness. Additionally, all ten come in models for both men and women. Further down, we dig into each of these in brief detail. We also utilize a scoring system to determine which of these we at Shoe Guide feel is the strongest choice and most effective option.
The Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet: Top 10
1. Asics Gel Kayano 24
Asics has long been one of the friendliest brands for runners with flat feet. These shoes, the Gel Kayano 24, are no exception, being one of the most stable running shoes for both men and women. These shoes feature Fluidride and Fluidfit technologies, providing extensive support for those with over pronation associated with flat footedness.
- Fluidrite technology is focused on the crafting of cushioned midsoles with strong durability and shock absorption, while remaining surprisingly lightweight.
- Fluidfit technology provides a stretchy upper mesh to assist the shoes in fitting more snugly. This works to provide incredible stability.
Additional gel in the heel and toe areas add further shock absorption and cushioning, and Asics’ DuoMax system adds far more support and stability. Also, the Gel Kayano 24 have Asics’ Comfordry X40, a sock liner that repels bacteria and absorbs moisture, as well as Asics’ proprietary guidance system, improving efficiency of owners’ gait.
This shoe is ideal for those with flat feet looking for a solid running shoe with lasting comfort. The shoes are available for men and women, and an array of stunning colors.
2. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17 shoe has many features making them perfect for individuals suffering from over pronation and flat feet. These are stability shoes with plenty of features, including a “progressive diagonal roll bar” triple-density midsole. This was developed specifically to assist those with over pronation, helping correct stride-related issues with flat footedness.
Additionally, full length crash pads are included with the Adrenaline GTS 17, providing extra cushioning, as well as a removable foam insole. Many of the other features of these running shoes for flat feet provide owners with more comfort, including:
- Collar and tongue with additional padding
- Mesh upper and lining to help keep owners’ feet cool
- Biomogo DNA, providing further cushioning for both men and women
The outsoles are developed from specialized rubber called HPR, which helps ensure that areas of common wear plaguing those with flat feet last far longer.
These are a stunning choice for people suffering from flat footedness who want a safe method to continue running. They have options for men and women, and have several styles available.
3. Mizuno Wave Inspire 13
Having flat feet and suffering from over pronation should not hinder your ability to enjoy a nice run. The Mizuno Wave Inspire 13 hits all the high notes, being designed for both men and women to assist with flat footedness. The Wave are notorious for their stability benefits, light weight and low profile.
The Mizuno Wave has U4iC boards, as well as double fan wave technology made common with Mizuno shoes. This technology assists in absorbing shock that the body and feet experience when running, and offer durability without the additional weight.
The Mizuno Wave Inspire 13 boast 30 percent less weight than any other shoe on our list. The technologies apparent in the Mizuno brand provide more cushion, reducing the wear on your feet, extending running longevity. The insoles can be removed on these shoes, allowing users to insert their own orthotics as needed.
The Wave Inspire are a great option for those with over pronation and flat feet looking for a great option to keep the weight down. There are choices for women and men, and have multiple colors and styles for owners.
4. Asics GT-2000 5
For sufferers of over pronation and flat feet, the Asics GT-2000 5 provides some incredible shoe technology to assist with keeping the feet, knees, legs and back intact and free from pain due from flat footedness. This shoe provides multiple footwear technologies that are standard with Asics shoes.
Gel was added to the heel and toe to assist with enhancing shock absorption that is less impactful with flat footedness and the arch-related issues that occur. Additionally, a multi-density midsole provides greater stability and support. Guidance line technology provides gait efficiencies and structural integrity improvements with the Asics guidance Trusstic systems proprietary with Asics footwear.
Asics GT-2000 5 midsoles are developed with spEVA material, provided additional durability, as well as higher energy returns with each step. Comfort is a top priority, with padded tongue and collar, breathable fabric linings, and removable foam insoles.
The Asics GT-2000 5 shoe is perfect for those with flat feet and over pronation looking for a solid running shoe with lasting comfort. The shoes are available for men and women, and an array of stunning colors.
5. Mizuno Wave Catalyst 2
The Wave Catalyst 2 has not been on the market for very long (it was developed and launched in late 2016). However, in that time, it has become a crowd favorite for many suffering from over pronation due to flat feet. Most Mizuno shoes, especially under the Wave moniker, have incredible amounts of cushioning. The Catalyst 2 is no exception.
The cushioning in this shoe is even more responsive than its predecessors, with U4iC boards for additional support in the mid-foot, and extra cushioning throughout, with varying densities of foam in the heel and toe to provide stability for areas prone to over pronation. This makes the heel to toe transition incredibly smooth, which encourages faster pacing while running.
These shoes are a great choice for people who have flat footedness and are looking for their first pair of running shoes to fit their unique needs. There are options for both men and women, with many colors and stylings to choose from.
6. Nike Air Zoom Structure 20
Nike is the most well-known shoe brand for a reason. Nike is synonymous with high quality, extreme durability, and the forefront of technology. The Air Zoom Structure running shoe is no exception. A stellar training and running shoe, this option provides incredible arch support for runners with low arches.
These shoes feature midsoles with triple the density of most running shoes, making them perfect for people with flat feet. This provides owners with insole foam mid-foot, and a sturdy foam wedge at the heel, while still maintaining impressive breathability through fly-mesh uppers with mesh inner sleeves.
This technology keeps the feet cool and dry, while providing a secure fit. Additionally, the outsoles have a signature Nike waffle texture, providing users with solid traction on any running surface, as well as rubberized "crash rails", providing smoother transitions with steps and when changing surfaces. The movement-responsive Air Zoom structuring of the front provides flexibility in speed, as well as comfortable cushioning without extensive bulk added.
This shoe was designed specifically for those suffering from flat-footedness, and is available for both women and men, with a vast expanse of color options.
7. Nike LunarGlide 9
The Nike Lunarglide 9 has an impressive amount of support, common in all Nike shoes for motion control. Nike is synonymous with high quality, extreme durability, and the forefront of technology. The Air Zoom Structure running show is no exception. A stellar training and running shoe, this option provides incredible arch support for runners with low arches.
This piece of footwear features a very soft sole core situated inside a firmer midsole. This causes users’ steps to be balanced and padded. Additionally, the upper provides security and tightness without being too tight. Much like the other Nike shoe on this list, this option is also extremely lightweight.
The outsoles have useful grooves that provide impressive grip. However, it needs to be watched to ensure that no debris and rocks get caught up in them, as this is a common complaint with this shoe.
The Lunarglide 9 a perfect option for those with over pronation and flat feet who are on the hunt for a great option to keep shoe weight down. There are choices for women and men, and Nike has multiple colors and styles available for purchase.
8. Asics DS Trainer 23
Asics has multiple options on our top 10 list, the Gel DS Trainer 22 being one of the best. These shoes incorporate a strong set of stability-centric technologies common in other Asics shoes, both for and not for flat footedness.
Some of the features on the Asics DS Trainer include:
- Fluidrite technology, which is focused on the crafting of cushioned midsoles with strong durability and shock absorption, while remaining surprisingly lightweight.
- Fluidfit technology, which provides a stretchy upper mesh to assist the shoes in fitting more snugly. This works to provide incredibly stability.
- Trusstic system for stability enhancement in the mid-foot area, to accommodate when there is a lack of support from a fallen arch.
- DuoMax Medial Posting to provide even further assistance in stability and motion control.
The DS Trainer 22 is a stellar option for those who have been running with stability shoes for a while, but have issues with the inherent bulkiness of the shoe itself. These shoes are incredibly comfortable, and still maintain the support levels expected, but are far lighter than alternatives.
They are an awesome option for those with over pronation and flat footedness, looking for a way to maintain their posture without the bulk that usually comes with motion control focused shoes. They have choices for women and men, and multiple style and color options.
9. Saucony Echelon 5
If you’re looking for a stunning pair of stability running shoes for flat footedness, we strongly advise checking out the Saucony Echelon 5. These are ideal for those with over pronation that is not so severe, providing solid arch support without going too far.
These shoes boast multiple advanced features not found in common running shoes, including:
- Dual-density EVA material that is durable and lightweight
- An SRC landing zone to assist with shock absorption
- Saucony’s Everun top-sole, providing cushioning effect for all strides
- Flexfilm provisions for additional support when running
Additionally, the Saucony Echelon 5 have breathable fabric lining and mesh uppers, thick collar and tongue padding, and removable insoles to assist those who have orthotics. The Echelon’s outsole can flex in multiple directions to provide better ground contact. Finally, injection rubber in multiple areas of the shoe provides cushioning, and carbon rubber provides stronger traction.
The Saucony Echelon is designed specifically for those suffering from flat-footedness, and is available for both women and men, with a vast expanse of color options.
10. Saucony Omni 16
The Saucony Omni 16 is an incredible piece of footwear. These running shoes provide extensive support for those with flat footedness. These are suitable for all stages of over pronation, supported by Saucony’s Sauc-Fit technologies, and support frame technology. This assists to keep the mid-foot stable while supportive framing provides even further rigidness.
Additionally, the Omni comes with Saucony’s Powergrid footwear tech, providing further arch support and assisting with absorbing some of the shock that comes with the bounds taken while running. Furthermore, the Omni shoes have an interior moisture wicking feature that keeps the feet cool and dry.
The insole, like the other shoes on this list, are removable and allow for insertion of orthotics. Additionally, the upper mesh is incredibly durable and breathable. There is also incredible traction across all running surfaces, something that Saucony has always done with their shoes. Through all of this, the shoe remains lightweight, so unlike some other running shoes for flat feet, you won’t feel like you have five pound weights attached to you.
These are a wonderful option for people suffering from flat footedness who want a great method to continue running, with a light weight, and the ability to move from surface to surface with ease. They have options for men and women, and have several styles available.
Flat Feet: Definitions and Causes
What are flat feet? In an individual with fallen arches, one or both feet might be flat on the ground. This can cause shoes to wear unevenly, especially on one side, or they might wear out faster than usual.
Many suffering from flat footedness show no serious symptoms. However, others might experience pain in their feet or back, depending on the root cause. These symptoms can vary, and will generally be dependent on the condition’s severity.
Some people have inherently uneven bodyweight distribution. These individuals may find that the heel of their shoes wear out more rapidly on one side than the other.
The most common symptom prevalent in those with flat feet is general pain. This pain will usually occur in the foot itself, especially if the connected muscles and ligaments are strained. This is something highly common in running.
Pain may also be present in the inner side of the ankle (along with telltale swelling), arch of the foot, calf, knee, hip, back, and lower leg. Abnormal stress to the knee and hip might result in pain. This is more likely if the ankles turn inwards. Additionally, flat feet can lead to lower back pain, along with stiffness in the lower body.
All of this is far more common than you might think. Research and studies have shown that almost one-quarter of the population of the United States alone suffer from fallen arches or flat feet.
What are some of the causes of flat feet?
Some of the most common causes of flat feet include:
- Standard genetics. Sadly, flat feet can run (get it?) in families.
- Weaker arches. When the arch can be seen when sitting, sometimes the foot flattens onto the ground when weight is put on it. This is flat feet due to weak arches.
- Historic ankle or foot injuries.
- Rheumatoid or standard arthritis affecting the lower extremities.
- Rupturing, dysfunction, or damage of the posterior tibial tendon.
- Muscle or nervous system diseases, like spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, or cerebral palsy.
Additionally, tarsal coalition can cause flat feet. This is a condition causing strange fusing of the bones of the foot, resulting in stiff and flat feet. People are also more likely to develop flat feet during pregnancy, or if they are obese or suffer from diabetes.
Also, flat footedness can develop as people grow older. Daily usage causes the posterior tibial tendon to weaken. This tendon acts as a support structure for the arches. Inflammation of this is what is commonly known as tendinitis. Damage to this tendon can cause the arch of the foot to flatten out.
This may all sound scary, and you might be asking “How do I know if I have flat feet?” Luckily, there are a few tests that can be performed to give you a good idea.
Determining if You Have Flat Feet
We have noted three main methods to determine your foot type, and see if you suffer from flat footedness:
- Making standard observations
- Taking the wet foot test
- Measurements taken by a professional
Making standard observations
There are a few observations that can be made to determine if you have flat feet. While you are standing, it is possible to sometimes see if your inner foot flattens or arches. The simplest test to doing so is to try and push your big toe back as far as possible.
When doing this, if an arch appears, then your foot is flexible and normal. However, if the arch does not appear while flexing your big toe, it is likely that you might be flat footed. This is not a tell-all, though. In most cases, taking the wet foot test is a greater indicator of flat-footedness.
Taking the wet foot test
The wet foot test is an incredibly simple method to get a stronger idea of what foot type you are. Generally, this is a more accurate indicator than the standard observation method above.
To perform the wet foot test, wet your feet and step onto a surface where you can see your footprint. In most cases, it is suggested to do this onto the top of a cardboard shoebox, as the contrast between wet and dry surfaces is obvious.
If your full footprint does not appear, your foot is flexible and normal. However, if your full footprint appears, it means you are likely flat footed. This is because the whole surface area of your sole will have pressed the water into the ground.
Measurements taken by a professional
This is always going to be the most accurate, telling method to determine flat footedness. A podiatrist, or even a professional in a shop specializing in running shoes will accurately and quickly measure your foot type and determine if you suffer from flat footedness.
If you are a runner diagnosed with flat feet, these professionals will often urge you to consider buying shoes specifically for flat footedness. This is especially important for running shoes. But why is it so important to use running shoes for flat feet?
Why Should I Use Running Shoes for Flat Feet?
Running on all surfaces, and especially on concrete, puts immense strain on ligaments, tendons, bones and muscles.
The arch of the foot serves to absorb the stress of impact that comes from each step. For this reason, lack of an arch causes far more stress on the heels and toes than those who have the support and flexibility of an arch.
This can lead to pain that radiates to multiple areas of the body, including the shins, ankles, Achilles tendon, arch, outer foot, calves, knees, hips, back and beyond.
We highly suggest going to a doctor or podiatrist if your feet remain painful, despite wearing supportive shoes like the ones we have suggested here at Shoe Guide. Remember, excessive over-exertion from those with flat feet can eventually lead to things such as Achilles tendonitis, bunions, and shin splints. We cannot recommend enough, if you still feel pain after changing up your shoe game, go see a professional.
The arch of the foot acts as a natural system of absorption for the rest of the body. It was designed over millions of years of evolution of the human body to do just that: absorb. When you shift your body weight over your feet, this shock is absorbed by the arch to lessen the impact and prevent subsequent injury. This shock which is absorbed by the arch would hit your ankles, knees, hips and back if not present.
Having flat feet is one of the telltale signals of over-pronation. This means, as outlined above, that the arch of the foot collapses when impacting the ground. Consequently, the ankle twists inwards, causing your knees to overcompensate.
This is something that should concern runners more so than most. Over the course of a run, the arch is meant to provide support to the pressure of the run. As a “run” is essentially thousands of small jumps onto one foot, the typical step supports up to three times the body weight in pressure. This is one of the main reasons why we suggest purchasing running shoes made specifically for those with flat feet. But there are factors to consider before deciding.
Factors To Consider Before Buying Running Shoes for Flat Feet
There are many factors that you need to consider before pulling the trigger on running shoes developed specifically for those with flat feet. Three of the most common variants between these shoes are pricing, styling, and structure. Let’s dig in a little more to each of these.
Your budget plays a key role in determining the best running shoes for flat feet to buy. It is vital to note that both motion control and stability focused running shoes come at a greater expense than standard running shoes. This is due to better padding, a stronger frame, and sophisticated sole design (all things touched upon when considering structure below).
The additional upfront money is more than worth it to purchase running shoes for flat feet, as you will be taking better care of yourself, improving your running capabilities, reducing the chances of long term damage, and wear out shoes far less than standard running shoes.
Personal take: I have flat feet, and would go through the outside back heel of a running shoe within months. These were inexpensive running shoes, typically in the $50 to $70 range. I run an average amount, probably between 15 and 20 miles per week. The shoes would be unusable after four months. I bought a pair of $130 running shoes developed specifically for flat feet a year ago. They are still going strong, making the cost per day far less than the alternative, while keeping my health in check.
Running shoes for flat feet would generally be a little bit bulkier. This is mainly due to the additional padding and extra features that are crammed into the show. This means, if a light-minimalist styling is something that you desire, this is something you should likely deal with losing out on. But for a good reason.
While lightweight shoes look great, they lack the necessary support for flat footed runners, to prevent injury from over-pronation. It’s important to make comfort and support a priority over style. This ensures the most effective running experience with a lessened chance of long-term damage.
This being said, there are some incredibly good-looking shoes available for those with flat feet. Ten of them are outlined above.
As flat-footed runners will almost always wear the heels and toes of their running shoes far quicker than regular runners with standard arches, it is a smart idea to look for shoes with extra support in these areas. Additional heel and toe support leads to a shoe that lasts longer, providing better “bang for your buck” in running shoes.
Also, insoles should be considered when evaluating structure of shoes. Some flat-footed runners have had great success using insoles that stabilize both the arch and heel while running.
When it comes to purchasing running shoes for flat feet, ensure you select a high-quality product that was designed for high impact activities (e.g. running), as opposed to standard running shoes.
Running Shoes for Flat Feet: Pro Tips
Everything we’ve mentioned so far is important when looking to purchase running shoes to assist with flat-footedness issues. However, there are some additional pro tips that should be included, and should be considered part of your research.
Re-measure your feet often
It can be quite surprising just how much a foot can change, even over the course of one year. It is important to re-measure your feet every time you plan on making a new running shoe purchase. The purpose of this is to accurately adapt to any further changes in your foot, such as extended lowering of your arch.
If you started with stability-based running shoes, but your arch has dropped lower since then, it might be time to consider motion control shoes to alleviate any issues that might arise.
Ensure proper fit
Getting the right fit for your running shoes can sometimes be every bit as important as the show itself. Fitting that is not correct can lead to a wide variety of issues, ranging from calluses to even ingrown toenails.
Visit our six shoe fitting tips guide to ensure you cover all the basic requirements when selecting the perfect running shoes for flat feet.
Make sure your running shoes match your needs
Running surfaces and the weather in your area both play a key role when determining the perfect running shoes for flat feet. For example, if you run mainly on concrete or asphalt, you will want to purchase a shoe with more cushioning than if you tend to run in fields or on a treadmill.
Also, there is nothing worse when running than wet feet. If you find yourself frequently running in wet conditions, it would be advantageous to look for shoes that are waterproof, or at least water resistant.
There are plenty of solid options available for running shoes for flat feet. Make sure you utilize the above pro tips to get the proper shoe to meet your needs.
A Few Additional Tips for Dealing with Flat Footedness
Great! You’ve chosen the perfect pair of running shoes for flat feet. Does everything stop here? Absolutely not. Now you need to listen to your body and take proper care of your flat footedness.
One of the best ways to do this is to run barefoot. Adding in occasional running on flat, soft surfaces (such as fields or beaches) stimulates arch strength and exercises the natural muscles of the foot. This improves the shock absorbing capacities of the arch over time.
Additionally, try intermittently utilizing a flexible, minimalist shoe such as the Nike Free. This works especially well if barefoot running is not a viable option, as it stimulates similar muscle groups.
Another great exercise to practice is picking up a ping pong ball with your toes. This is a very simple exercise that can be done by most anyone at any given time. We recommend doing so when amid a mindless task, like watching television. This exercise is a frequent recommendation of podiatrists and exercise professionals, and will provide incredible results over time.
Next Steps to Take
We hope this ultimate guide to selecting the best running shoes for flat feet has been beneficial to you. Our reviews and comments were meant to guide you towards the realization that there are plenty of viable options for you out there, regardless of what you might have thought previously.
Remember, when training in a new pair of shoes (especially if you are going from standard running shoes to a pair of these running shoes made specifically for those with flat feet and over pronation) break them in slowly. You’ll be running in a fashion your body is not familiar with.
Once you get used to them, you may be surprised at the difference that is made to your running, and the benefits that will be running alongside you! Thanks for reading!