What are flat feet?
Those afflicted with flat feet suffer from a condition where the arches of the foot collapse and the entire sole of the foot, or most of it, comes into contact with the ground.
How do I know if I’m flat-footed?
You may not even be aware that you have flat feet; then again, you may notice that your feet tire easily, arches and heels are achy, you have back or leg pain, and certain foot movements are difficult.
A simple test for self-diagnosing flat feet is as follows:
- Wet the bottom of your feet.
- Stamp your foot on a flat surface.
- Look at the prints.
If you see the entire imprint of your foot’s bottom (i.e. no arch) you likely have flat feet.
Why are flat feet a problem?
Humans were designed so that when our body weight goes over our feet, the mechanism absorbs the shock and eases the impact on knees, ankles, feet, and hips. Thus, foot arches serve as the body’s natural shock absorbers.
Flat-footed runners tend to twist their ankles inward and overcompensate with their knees after each step. They also have a habit of overpronating, meaning their feet also roll toward the inside. Without the proper footwear to counteract the effects of flat feet, runners suffering from it have an increased chance of injury and experience significant discomfort while running.
What do I need to take into consideration if I’m a flat-footed runner?
- Make sure you change out your running shoes as they age. A good rule of thumb is 300 to 500 miles, but err on the side of 300 miles if you have flat feet.
- Particularly for flat-footed runners, you’ll want to choose shoes that offer durable, rigid support, especially in the arches. Arches help lift that foot and ease pressure from the upper body weight.
If I’m a flat-footed runner, what kind of shoes should I look for?
Major footwear manufacturers have come a long way in developing advanced technologies to assist runners with flat feet and help them exercise in comfort and without injury. To combat issues related to fallen arches, runners with flat feet require optimized support systems built into their footwear. The two categories that tailor to people with flat feet—stability control and motion control—offer specific solutions designed to minimize injuries and maximize comfort.
What are stability shoes?
Manufacturers design these shoes with layers of polyurethane material in the arch to create more support and stability for runners with flat feet. Stability shoes can limit or eliminate overpronation by reducing excess motion of the foot and improving biomechanical efficiency. Sleek and light, these shoes deliver cushioning, support and durability, while helping runners pronate forward and not inward.
What are motion control shoes?
Tailored to runners with extremely flat feet and significantly higher levels of overpronation, these shoes provide motion control and stability control through advanced foam technology or padding material found on the arch of the foot. Simply put, these shoes keep the foot in place and from rolling inward as the runner makes contact with the ground. Keep in mind that the added support equals added weight.
What if I have a pair of running shoes that doesn’t provide motion or stability control?
In some instances, runners can insert special insoles inside their shoes to provide extra support.
What are some other things I can do for my flat feet?
Proper footwear isn’t the only way to mitigate the effects of flat feet. Avoid uneven running surfaces like golf courses or underdeveloped trails. While lush grass and soft soil sound appealing for aching ankles and knees, the uneven ground compounds the issues related to flat feet and can cause even more damage.