Runners with flat feet know that a good pair of shoes can make all the difference between an exhilarating run and a grueling, painful slog. Just like people suffering from things like supination, shoes make a difference. People with flat feet don’t have natural arches, and as a result, the entire sole of the foot come into contact with the ground when moving. This can cause great pain and discomfort while running. That is why we put together this list of the 7 best running shoes for flat feet of 2020. Consulting this list will help you make the right choice that will protect your feet.
Mistakes to Avoid When Looking For Running Shoes For Flat Feet
(Arch support is not always the answer!)
Unfortunately, there is no one simple answer as to which shoes are the best for flat feet. The question will depend on the specific anatomy of the foot. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of flat feet. Some runners have anatomically flat feet, in which their feet never naturally develop arches. Others have “collapsed arches” that are the result of muscle weakness. The specific kind of flat feet are relevant to what features you should look for.
For example, runners with collapsed arches normally benefit from added arch support and get stronger over time. However, for runners with anatomically flat feet, extra arch support can put stress on the knees. This is because people with anatomically flat feet simply do not have arches; it is not something that can be fixed with a shoe. That is why it is important to know what kind of flat feet you have; it will affect the features you look for in a running shoe.
That being said, there are a few universal things to avoid when looking for a running shoe for flat feet.
Most running shoes for flat feet work by giving more arch support, though this is not always necessary. It is, however, necessary for those with flat feet to get a shoe whose midsole makes complete contact with the foot. Runners with flat feet tend to overpronate. If the midsole does not make full contact with all parts of the foot, there is the risk of the uppers of the shoe bearing part of the foot’s weight. This problem is best solved by finding a shoe with a straight “last”; i.e. the mold that dictates the shape of the shoe. Most common running shoes have an “hourglass” mold that tapers near the arches. Runners with flat feet should focus on getting running shoes with a more straight last.
Low Arch Support
Runner’s with anatomically flat feet may not always require extra arch support to help their feet. For those with collapsed arches, good arch support is crucial and helps strengthen the muscle in the the feet so they can return to their natural shape. Running shoes that have low or no arch support can be very bad for runners with flat feet, in particular, those with collapsed arches. However, the benefits of high arch support might be mitigated if you have anatomically flat feet. It all really depends on the specifics of your feet.
Bad Heel/Toe Support
Flat-footed runners will almost always find themselves wearing the heels and toes of their shoes more than normal. This is simply due to the structure of the foot; people with flat feet just have to put more force on the toes and heels to compensate for their lack of arches. That is why it is a good idea to get running shoes that have extra support and durability in those areas. Unfortunately, this means that running shoes for flat feet are generally thicker, bulkier, and heavier than normal running shoes, but it is a necessary trade-off if you want to keep your feet protected.
What Are the Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet for 2020?
1. Brooks Levitate
Starting off our list is the Brooks Levitate. The Brooks Levitate is a great shoe for those with collapsed arches. The shoe offers decent arch support which is good for correcting and strengthening fallen arches. However, those with anatomically flat feet may find the arch support too high. The thick rubber sole is durable and offers good support near the heels and toes and the upper meshes are light and breathable.
The arch supports are a bit tough and may require some getting used to. The Levitates also offer a great amount of cushioning for shock absorption and have a pretty wide footbed for those with flat feet. Unfortunately, they are not incredibly durable and may show signs of wear quickly, especially if you are a frequent runner.
2. ASICS Gel-Kayano
Another running shoe from ASICS, the Gel-Kayano series is a favorite among flat footed runners. Complete with ASICS trademark cushion and comfort, the Gel-Kayano has a guidance line midsole that keeps the foot aligned during each step to enhance the natural gait. A generous toe box allows for maximum stability and balance.
Like all ASICS, the Gel-Kayano are a bit clunky and large, though the amazing comfort and support makes it not such a big factor. The heel is a bit less cushioned than previous model and they are a bit expensive though. The lace holes are a bit fragile too, so tying your laces too tight may rip them.
3. Nike Air Zoom Structure
The name Nike is synonymous among shoe enthusiasts for high quality and top-tier performance. The Zoom Air Structures are designed specifically with those with flat feet in mind. The triple density midsole ensures that the shoe makes contact with the bottom of the foot at all points and the sturdy foam wedge in the heel keeps the foot aligned properly.
The unique pentagon tread design is made to eas transition from surface types and is extra tough near the heels and toes. Like many Nike shoes, the Zoom Airs run a bit narrow so they don’t fit wide feet too well. This can be a problem as many people with flat feet have wide set soles. They also do a good job of correcting the overpronation that is common in those with flat feet, though some reviewers state they overcorrect a bit too much.
4. ASICS Gel-Venture Running Shoes
ASICS has long been a brand favored by those with flat feet. The Gel-Venture line of running shoes offers great stability and superior cushioning to alleviated pain associated with flat feet and to correct over pronation. The rubber outsole is very durable and has extra thickness near the toes and heel.
The midsole contains packets of gell that work to evenly distribute force along the bottom of the foot and the removable sockliner allows you to place custom orthotics if you need them. However, the shoe does have pretty low arch support for an orthotic shoe, so may not be best for those who have high arches and need extra support. Alternatively, the lower arches can be very beneficial for those with anatomically flat feet who need something that focuses more on stability.
5. Brooks GTS Adrenaline
The Brooks GTS Adrenaline offers a lot of arch support and stability for runners with flat feet. The footbed is specifically designed to assist with stability and to prevent overpronation. Brooks’ trademark guide rails system keeps your foot aligned which can help alleviate knee and ankle pain. It also has a removable foam insole for custom orthotics.
The generous arch support and stability options are perfect for flat feet but they are a bit hard and take some getting used to. It also takes some time to get used to the guide rails step correction but once you do running gets much easier.
6. Mizuno Wave Inspire
The next item on our list is the Mizuno Wave Inspire running shoes. The thick outsole and insole provide a great amount of cushion and support. They are very lightweight and reviewers note they are particularly effective at correcting mild to moderate overpronation. The “Double Fan Wave” technology of the construction of the outer and midsole is meant to better distribute weight along the foot while also giving good flex.
The shoes are a bit tight fitting so may rub against the tops of your feet, especially if you have high-seated arches. Arch support is decent, but the real draw is that you can take out the insoles if you need to modify the fit. The laces are thick and somewhat cumbersome to tie, but they are tough and won’t break easily. All around, the Mizuno is a great choice for men and women alike who suffer from flat feet.
7. Saucony Echelon
This road training shoe is meant to reduce mile to moderate overpronation while also providing solid arch support that is not too high. As such, the Saucony Echelons are best for those who have mild to moderate problems with flat feet. The last is molded very straight and the insole is level which is good for flat feet that need full contact with the footbed. The fabric uppers are a bit heavy and somewhat lack in breathability, though an interior shoe liner wicks away moisture from the feet.
The Echelons also have a wider construction to allow for insertable orthotics. Reviewers rave about how the Eschelon’s alleviate and prevent pain associated with their flat feet. Since they are wide, they are not a good fit for narrow feet. Reviewers also note that they may not be a good choice for bigger runners as the extra weight can damage the structure of the shoe. Despite these flaws, the Eschelons are a perfectly competent running shoe for runners with flat feet.
8. Hoka One One Vanquish Running Shoe
It should come as no surprise that a product from Hoka One One made it on this list. Hoka One One is known for their excellent cushioned shoes and the Vanquish series is no different. The carbon treated rubber is extremely durable and springy which gives great shock absorption. The Meta-Rocker Geometry construction makes contact with all points of the feet and gives great stability.
The shoe does have lower arch support so may not be best for those who with collapsed arches. On the other hand, they are very good for anatomically flat feet, even though they run a bit narrow. The toe box is also a bit short, so if you need more toe room something else may be a better choice. The shoes are a bit pricier, but they are worth the extra money for the quality of build. These shoes are pretty darn durable and will last for a good while.
9. Altra Escalante
A slightly lesser know shoe manufacturer, the Altra Escalante series of running shoes is great for runners who have anatomically flat feet. The zero drop platform means that your toes and heels remain at the same level so the bottom of the shoe makes contact with the whole foot. This level design also distributes shock evenly along the base of the foot, keeping any one part of the foot from doing too much work.
The Escalantes also have Altra’sFootpod technology, which focuses on helping the bones and tendons in the foot flex in the right manner. Again, since they have a zero drop design, they do not offer too much explicit arch support, but for anatomically flat feet this can be a good thing. Unfortunately, they offer very little insulation so your feet will get cold running in the winter, and they are a bit more expensive.
10. New Balance NB 860
The last item on our list is another shoe from New Balance, the NB 860. Made for extra stability and support, the 860s have a durable TruFuse midsole that gives cushioning at all points on the feet along with a dual density post that keeps your feet stable while running.
The toe box does run a bit small and the shoe is a bit narrow, which is strange for a New Balance shoe. Nonetheless, the footbed is extremely comfortable and springy enough for good response on all kinds of surfaces. The outsole is not incredible durable but unless you scrape your feet while running, it should not be too big a problem. Unfortunately, there are only 3 color options, but all available versions look sleek and are good for casual wear.
So which are the best running shoes for flat feet? Like we said, the correct answer depends heavily on the specifics of the individual foot. The main feature to focus on with shoes for flat feet is making sure they have good contact and full touch the foot at all points. Arch support is a second important feature, though the importance of arch support differs depending on whether you have collapsed arches or anatomically flat feet. This is why it is very important to figure out what kind of flat feet you have. Combined with a good pair of running socks, this list should give you the necessary info to find the right running shoes for your flat feet.
“FAQ About Flat Feet Risks and Care” Carolina Podiatry Group, Article
“What Are Fallen Arches?” WebMD, Article