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Holabird Sports

Running Tech Center

Choosing the Right Running Shoes for Flat Feet


Before you run out to buy running shoes for your flat feet, you have to make sure that you actually have flat feet. This is important; buying the wrong type of running shoe can cause pain or injury.

The best way to see if you have flat feet is to do the footprint test. Take a brown paper bag and put it down on the floor, step in some water and then step on the bag. If you have flat feet your footprint will look like a foot-shaped blob, there will be no inward curve.

Pronation is the way your foot rolls from heel to the toe when you step or your foot strikes the ground. Neutral pronation means that the outside of your heel and the ball of your foot land evenly, reducing the stress of impact as your foot strikes the ground. If you are underpronate your foot doesn’t even out enough and the outside of your foot absorbs most of the shock. Overpronation means you have too much roll, from the outside to the inside of your foot.

Most people with flat feet are overpronators and your feet roll inward while you run.

Overpronators or people with flat feet should use running shoes that maintain stability. Your shoes should say motion control or stability. If your feet are extremely flat, you may even need to wear orthotics, this is something you should visit your doctor or podiatrist and about and something you may have to get custom made.

Out of all the different types of feet, runners with flat feet need to be extra careful when choosing a running shoe—your foot arch is your body’s natural shock absorption system. Your arch is meant to support three times your body weight each time you run. Everything in your body is connected. Your foot arch is meant to absorb your body weight and remove some of the impact. Think about it, if you have no shock absorption, your hips, knees, and ankles will be taking too much shock. It can even affect your spine. People with flat feet are missing a lot of this natural shock absorption which can lead to pain and injury, especially in your knees and ankles.

Luckily there are many shoes that can help runners with flat feet run safely and without pain. You need more support, how flat your feet are can be the difference between stability and motion control. Every major brand of running shoes offer stability running shoes—stability is the industry’s term for more support—you can recognize these by the grey piece of foam inside the midsole. However, people with severely flat feet or the most overpronators may need more than just basic support, they may need motion control shoes—shoes for serious overpronators.

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