During World War II, one of the things that could disqualify a soldier from being drafted was flat feet. A soldier who couldn’t march or be on their feet without too much pain couldn’t be as effective or efficient.
This qualification has since been modified — flat feet don’t disqualify a person from service any longer. But what are flat feet and why can they be painful?
What Are Flat Feet?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “flat feet” is a condition that is characterized by fallen arches and is basically when your entire foot is flush to the floor when standing. This condition can be genetic or caused by an injury. Or your feet might just flatten through the normal wear and tear of life.
Sometimes it can be quite painful, and other times it’s pain-free. But even if it’s not painful, it may have other side effects. Your posture, position of your legs, ankles, and knees can all be affected. If you do have pain, you should start by speaking with your doctor about treatment and pain management plans.
Since World War II, a lot of things have improved for the management of foot pain — from targeted stretches to inserts you can put into your shoes. And even if you don’t have pain in everyday life, sometimes certain activities can cause more pain. High-impact activities like running can often contribute to foot pain.
If you’re a runner with flat feet, it’s important to ensure you pick the right type of running shoes. In general, look for shoes with more support and structure. But before you run off to buy a new pair of running shoes, there are a few different factors to keep in mind.
Running and Flat Feet
Running shoes have improved drastically for those of us who have flat feet. Nowadays, there are many different running shoe options to choose from, and it can be confusing which shoes are best for your feet. Luckily, specialty running stores can help you to find the right pair of running shoes for you.
There are many specialty stores throughout the country. One store that I’ve used frequently is Runner’s Corner in Orem, Utah, a store built by and for runners. It has been in operation since the early ’90s and has helped tons of runners — including me — find the right running shoes.
The Runner’s Corner staff — all runners who have completed training to help them meet the needs of their customers — are very knowledgeable and experienced. So I called to ask them what their top shoe recommendations are for runners with flat feet.
After they gave me their list, I researched a little more based on their recommendations and landed on these five shoes, which are specifically designed to help runners with flat feet.
One thing to note is there’s no perfect shoe that will help every single person with flat feet. Though these shoes have helped many runners with flat feet, they may not be the best for everyone. But they’re a good place to start.
The main thing to remember when picking out running shoes is to make sure they work for you. The brand, color, or style doesn’t matter as much as how the shoe makes your foot feel when you’re running.
Running Shoes for Flat-Footed Runners
ASICS GEL-Kayano 26 — Men’s & Women’s: $160
The ASICS GEL-Kayano 27 is a solid choice for runners with flat feet. This shoe is designed to help with overpronation while being comfortable over long distances. The DUOMAX midsole provides added stability with two different materials for added foot support.
ASICS GEL technology provides high-density shock absorption and adds to the comfort of the shoe. This edition has a redesigned mesh upper for added breathability to keep your feet cool. It also has a better rebound and cushion because of the EVA sock liner. This shoe is made for the road and has stable support with maximum cushion.
Drop: 10 mm (men’s); 13 mm (women’s)
Weight: 11.1 oz. (men’s); 8.8 oz. (women’s)
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Brooks Dyad 11 — Men’s & Women’s: $130
The Brooks Dyad 11 is one of the more spacious shoes out there. It has a wider platform and outsole. Some reviewers have said these shoes are wide and spacious enough to accommodate custom orthotics.
This shoe helps with overpronation without affecting the neutral stride of the runner. It has dual arch pods at the midfoot that help add a bit of stability.
The BioMoGo DNA cushioning adapts to your stride, weight, and speed, and the shoe has a medium-to-flat arch and extra cushion for a comfortable running fit. These shoes are made for road running and should be able to go the distance with you on a long run.
Drop: 10 mm
Weight: 11.6 oz. (men’s); 10.7 oz. (women’s)
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HOKA ONE ONE Gaviota 2 — Men’s & Women’s: $150
The HOKA ONE ONE Gaviota 2 has all the perks a flat-footed runner needs. These shoes have both cushion and comfort. The underfoot cushioning, which is constructed from a thick slab of lightweight EVA foam and rubber, is designed to be lightweight and durable.
The midsole cushion helps guide your foot as you run. It also helps keep your foot stable through your stride. The J-frame has enhanced shock absorption and energy return for a responsive ride. This shoe is made for road running, especially if you’re looking for added cushion for the miles.
Drop: 5 mm
Weight: 10.6 oz. (men’s); 8.8 oz. (women’s)
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New Balance 860v11 — Men’s & Women’s: $130
The New Balance 860v11 is an ideal shoe for flat-footed runners. These shoes were engineered with comfort, cushion, and support in mind. New Balance’s TruFuse cushioning gives you consistent support throughout the shoe. These shoes have a dual-density medial post in the midsole that helps with overpronation and stabilize your foot for a more natural feel.
The shoe also has a full-coverage outsole that helps provide traction to give the shoes additional stability. They come in four widths — narrow, standard, wide, and extra-wide — so you can find the perfect fit. The New Balance 860v11’s attention to comfort and stability should make you feel confident you can go for miles.
Drop: 10 mm
Weight: 11.2 oz. (men’s); 9.6 oz. (women’s)
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Saucony Guide 13 — Men’s & Women’s: $120
The Saucony Guide 13 has the comfort and support right where runners with flat feet need it. And Saucony’s new PWRRUN cushioning adds just the right amount of comfort without being too soft. It also has a medial TPU guidance frame that helps guide your foot through each step.
These shoes have a new, sleek design upgrade from Saucony’s ISOFIT technology to the new FORMFIT technology. Saucony claims that FORMFIT surrounds your foot and adapts to each runner’s foot shape, allowing the shoes to fit a wide range of foot types. The shoes also have a durable midsole for added cushion and comfort.
Drop: 8 mm
Weight: 10.2 oz. (men’s); 9.3 oz. (women’s)
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