For runners, it's even more important to find shoes that provide the right support; the wrong shoe can result in injuries that cause lasting damage to your feet. Or, at the very least, it can cause a great deal of discomfort and discourage you from wanting to run.
To know what to look for in a running shoe, it's important to understand the causes of flat feet and how to address them.
What Are Flat Feet and What Causes Them?
"Flat feet" is the term used when the arches of your feet don't "arch"; instead, your entire foot touches the floor when you stand up. Because the arch plays such an important role — it helps distribute body weight across your feet and legs — people with flat feet often feel pain that moves up their legs and into their back. The right shoes are required to help meet the needs of runners with flat feet.
Even if you weren't born with flat feet, you can become flat-footed over time. The structure of our feet can continue changing, and things that contribute to being flat-footed include:
- Fallen arches
- Nerve damage
- Health problems like obesity and diabetes
Also, if your parents are flat-footed, you may have been genetically predisposed to it.
Flat feet will affect the kind of running shoes you buy, and wading through all the information about it can be overwhelming. To avoid getting too caught up in the information overload, focus your attention on shoes that are specifically designed to address the challenges of people with flat feet.
Before investing in new running shoes, it's also important to identify whether your flat feet are anatomical or are the result of fallen arches, which is related to muscle weakness. If your condition developed over time, it is more likely due to muscle weakness. The types of shoes and support needed differ depending on the cause of the flat-footedness.
While runners with fallen arches will benefit from shoes with additional arch support (which can be reduced as the muscles in the foot get stronger and can support the arch on their own), people with anatomically flat feet can experience more pain from too much arch support. Because their feet are structurally built without an arch, the addition of arch support can lead to greater stress on the knee, causing pain and injury.
What Shoe Is Right for Me?
A running shoe that compensates for flat feet may offer better stability, more arch support, and greater motion control than the average running shoe, depending on the individual design of the shoe. Overall, flat-footed runners should look for shoes with a wider midfoot base that provides more midsole support and an even surface. Fortunately, technology is evolving and providing more options for flat-footed runners.
Here are three of the best ASICS running shoes for flat feet:
The GEL-KAYANO running shoe has been around for almost 20 years, and it has become a favorite among flat-footed runners. The GEL-KAYANO 26 model saw the addition of GEL® technology, which improved with its extra shock absorption. That shoe is still a hot seller and has been joined by the GEL-KAYANO 27 , which has the same renowned midsole FLYTEFOAM® midsole technology that, in tandem with GEL® technology, creates a bouncy landing to provide a better foot strike. The heel cap in the GEL-KAYANO 27 running shoe has been upgraded to provide a more solid feel, and both iterations of the GEL-KAYANO come in gender-specific models to provide the best fit for your feet.
The GT-2000 running shoe has earned its reputation as a great stability shoe, and it consistently ranks as one of the top shoes for combating overpronation. ASICS's winning combination of DUOMAX® and TRUSSTIC SYSTEM™ technology in the midfoot creates unbeatable stability needed by anyone with flat feet. The GT-2000 9 version has upgraded the GT-2000 8 shoe with more foam density for a softer landing and a tighter toe box that provides a more secure fit in the forefoot. Between these two, there's a GT-2000 that can provide the fit that overpronators have been looking for.
A newer offering from ASICS, the GT-4000 shoe is designed to toe the line between stability and neutral foundations. It's a great shoe for runners who need just a little support, and it has the DUOMAX® arch support and FLYTEFOAM® cushioning that have helped drive the popularity of the ASICS brand. The GT-4000 shoe also features the GUIDANCE LINE™ technology, which helps reduce stress on the foot while running.
When looking for the right shoe, there's no single answer for runners with flat feet. But knowing which options are designed with flat feet in mind can make the search must easier.