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Finding the right pair of running shoes to get you through your short and long training runs can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if you have flat feet.
With so many different features, styles, and price ranges, it’s worth checking out a variety of shoes before you settle on the pair you want to buy.
We talked with a few experts to get their suggestions on how to choose a running shoe for flat feet. We’ve also chosen five shoes you may want to consider. Read on to learn more.
Gone are the days when you had only one or two choices for running shoes. Now when you walk into a store or shop online, it’s not uncommon to be matched with several brands and styles to fit your particular needs.
Categories of running shoes
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, there are three categories of running shoes:
- Cushioned shoes: These are good for people with a high arch or rigid feet that tend to supinate (weight is more on the outside of each foot while running).
- Stability shoes: These help people who tend to pronate (weight is more on the inside of each foot while running) and have an arch that might collapse.
- Motion control shoes: These provide the most stability for people who are severe pronators or have flat feet.
Comfort — the ultimate goal
Regardless of the category of shoe, the ultimate goal is comfort. Dr. Steven Neufeld, a foot and ankle surgeon at The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics, says comfort is really the most important factor when looking for a running shoe.
Neufeld adds that when shopping for a running shoe for flat feet, you need to take into consideration your particular feet.
“If you have flat feet that are stiff and rigid, look for a shoe that is softer and will provide adequate cushioning when the foot strikes the ground. But if you have flat feet that are flexible, then a shoe that has arch support and is not super rigid is likely going to be the best option,” he explained.
Neufeld also says to consider a shoe that’s designed to prevent pronation, as overpronating typically goes hand in hand with flat feet. And since pronation tends to cause the foot to widen, he recommends avoiding shoes with a narrow toe box and a floppy heel.
Best practices when shopping for shoes
Here are a few recommendations when it comes to shopping for running shoes:
- Get fitted at a specialty running store that has knowledgeable staff.
- Try the shoes out at the store before buying them.
- Don’t try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet are swollen.
- Ask about a return or guarantee policy if the shoes don’t work out.
Many experts, such as podiatrists and physical therapists, are hesitant to recommend a specific shoe since each person needs to be evaluated to figure out what’s best for their particular feet.
However, these experts do say some brands have a better selection for flat feet. Below are five running shoes worth considering if you have flat feet. Price ranges are as follows:
|$160 and above||$$$|
The Asics Gel-Kayano 26 is the latest model of this popular shoe for all runners, but especially flat-footed runners. The shoe is designed to correct overpronation, which often goes along with being flat-footed.
Dr. Nelya Lobkova, an American Board of Podiatric Medicine certified surgical podiatrist, says the Brooks Transcend 6 provides a great amount of mid-foot stability and cushioning for runners with flat feet who can benefit from extra shock absorption. They also come in a wide width to fit a variety of foot sizes.
The Brooks Dyad 10 is another top pick for flat-footed runners looking for a spacious shoe that provides stability without interfering with their natural stride.
Rob Schwab, PT, DPT, CIDN, of Oxford Physical Therapy has recommended the Saucony Guide 13 to his patients with flat feet. These provide some support through the arch.
HOKA ONE ONE Arahi 4 is a popular shoe in the distance running community. Lobkova says HOKA ONE ONE shoes, and specifically the Arahi 4, have good mid-foot stability and cushioning, which helps provide extra shock absorption.
Orthotics are shoe or heel inserts you put in your shoes to help manage specific conditions, such as:
- heel pain
- general foot discomfort
- arch pain
- plantar fasciitis
You can buy custom orthotics that are made specifically for your issue or off-the-shelf brands that are more generic but often less expensive.
Whether a flat-footed runner should use orthotics is a highly debated topic.
“The scientific data does not provide evidence for orthotics in patients without significant symptoms,” said Dr. Adam Bitterman, DO, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in the foot and ankle at Huntington Hospital.
However, he does point out that orthotics have a role in scenarios involving pain and discomfort with normal walking and moving around.
With regard to his overall treatment protocol, Bitterman likes to start with over-the-counter orthotics, which are more economical, and then progress to custom orthotics if treatment shows success.
When it comes to shopping for a running shoe for flat feet, your best bet is to talk with a specialist — either a podiatrist, physical therapist, or running shoe specialist — and try on a lot of different styles.
If you don’t already have an orthopedist, the Healthline FindCare tool can help you find a physician in your area.
While every shoe discussed in this article is designed to be supportive and prevent pronation, your goal is to find which one feels best on your feet.