Have you ever felt pain on the inner sides of your feet after a long period of walking or standing? If you answered yes, then it is possible that you may need walking shoes for flat feet.
But how do you know if you do need these special shoes and are not just tired of all-day walking or standing?
Checking for flat feet
Place a mirror on the floor or use a floor-length mirror. While barefoot, stand sideways in front of it. While facing left, lift your right foot so that the left foot, touching the floor, is visible in the mirror. If you are flat-footed, there will be little to no space between the arch area and the floor. If you have defined arches, a gap will be fairly obvious. Repeat the process on the other side.
Another test you can perform at home is the wet test. Put two sheets of paper on the floor, one for each foot, and have enough area to accommodate each one. Wet your feet, then step on the sheets then quickly step off. If the wet pattern is pretty uniform from the toes to the heel, then there’s a good chance that you have flat feet. If there is a dry spot where the arch was positioned, you do not have flat feet.
Check your shoes
Another way to check if you have flat feet is by looking at the wear pattern on the outsole of your everyday walking shoes. If the wear pattern is in the middle of the ball area and the heel, you have a neutral gait. If the outside of the rubber is worn out, you are supinating. And if the wear pattern is on the inner side, you are overpronating. Overpronation can be caused by flat feet or those with soft arches that collapse when they walk.
Remember! The best way to determine whether you need flat feet shoes is to go to a podiatrist and have your feet analyzed. Also, some shoe stores have tools that can assess your foot shape.
What to look for in the best walking shoes for flat feet
Roomy toe box
People with flat feet tend to overpronate or excessively roll their foot inward when walking. This involuntary foot action can cause bunions to develop because the big toe is pushed towards the other toes. Wearing trainers with tight or narrow toe boxes could aggravate bunions and cause extreme pain for the users. Having an adequate room in the toe area also allows folks to spread their toes, aiding in balance during the walking cycle.
Another feature to look into when purchasing a pair of walking shoes is the type of cushioning it uses. People with flat feet may do well if the trainer they are wearing has firm cushioning. Now, don’t confuse firm with uncomfortable.
A firm foam is one that doesn’t easily compress when you apply pressure on it. This means that it won’t collapse under your weight and will be able to keep your feet in a neutral position. Despite being firm, the sole is still flexible, allowing the smooth heel-to-toe transition of the foot while walking.
Another thing to note about walking shoes with firm midsoles is that they also provide shock attenuation. Thus, walking on hard surfaces won’t be too troublesome for the knees and the ankles.
A common material found in some of the best walking shoes for flat feet is leather. Leather is excellent in retaining its shape. It also works well in keeping the foot contained for people who overpronate.
However, not everyone is fond of leather walking shoes because they can be quite unfashionable. There are walking shoes for people with flat feet that use a combination of mesh and leather that are more stylish and offer more breathability without compromising foothold.
Another sought after feature of walking shoes for flat feet is a reliable outsole. The underside should be lined with rubber or a similar compound that can provide traction both indoors and outdoors, and even in wet conditions.
You should also consider the groves and the tread pattern when examining the outsole. Deeper furrows mean that the trainer has more flexibility at the forefoot. As for the tread pattern, avoid shoes with smooth outsoles as those usually have diminished grip, especially on smooth surfaces.
Arch support: do you need it?
When you hear someone has flat feet, the automatic assumption is they need shoes with arch support or use an insert with it. But do flat-footed people really need arch support in their walking shoes?
The short answer is no. Unless you are experiencing foot pain, podiatrists don’t usually require the use of shoes with arch support. And not all walking shoes for flat feet have arch support. In some cases, they use technologies, like a firm midsole, that corrects the foot’s position to prevent overpronation.
For some flat-footed people, using walking shoes with arch support feels very uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. The reason being the raised section feels like a ball under their foot, which they do not appreciate.
One can argue that arch support can help stabilize the foot and prevent injuries, but there have been studies in the running community disproving it. According to several findings, the presence of arch support in running trainers has no significant effect in reducing injuries in runners. As for the benefits of using arch support in your walking shoes, it’s mainly for the reduction of discomfort, and not necessarily for performance.
Notable walking shoe technologies
Most of the top-rated walking shoes for flat feet are often made by Brooks, New Balance, Saucony, and Asics. Though these brands may be popular for their running trainers, they also offer comfortable walking shoes for flat feet. These brands employ unique technologies that aid in stabilizing the feet while keeping them comfortable.
Extended Progressive Diagonal Rollbar (PDRB). This component is placed under the medial side of the arch and heel section. This firm, wedge-like structure prevents the foot from rolling inwards. It also serves to keep the foot in a neutral position to facilitate smooth midstance to toe-off action. The Brooks Addiction Walker uses this midsole technology along with BioMoGo DNA foam for comfort and stability.
Rollbar. This structure is placed under the heel area. It features two posts on the medial and lateral side of the rearfoot that is connected by a plate sandwiched between the midsole and the outsole. The structure prevents the foot from excessively rolling in or out, keeping it steady during the walking gait cycle.
Walking Strike Path. Another feature seen in most New Balance walking shoes for flat feet is a band that runs in the middle of the outsole. It helps center the foot as the weight of the wearer transfer from the heel to the toes.
The New Balance 928 v3 features both of the above-mentioned technologies. According to owners, this model relieved foot pain and they feel stable while walking.
Walk Trac. These lines work similarly to New Balance’s Walking Strike Path. They are found in the outsole and guides the foot for a smooth heel-to-toe transition. The Saucony Grid Omni Walker uses the Walk Trac in its outsole which works with GRID cassette in the midsole, affording users better control of their foot movements.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the best brand of walking shoes for flat feet?
A lot of men and women have recommended the Brooks Addiction Walker. According to users, wearing this product relieved discomfort in their feet, legs, and knees. It is also regarded for its durability and how steady the users felt while wearing these shoes. Other brands to consider include, Vionic, New Balance, and Saucony.
Are there wide men’s walking shoes for flat feet?
Yes, there are several men’s walking shoes for wide flat feet. Aside from the Addiction Walker, another model offered in a roomier option is the New Balance 813. Both models are highly recommended because of their respective midsole technologies. They are equipped with the Rollbar, which is a reinforcing element that prevents the medial side of the foam from compressing, which could lead to overpronation. The Rollbars also ensure that the foot is in proper alignment to avoid discomfort during long periods of walking or standing.
What’s the best walking shoe for women with flat feet?
Based on user reviews, the Brooks Addiction Walker tops RunRepeat’s charts. However, it may not be as cute as some women want in their everyday walking trainer. Other contenders include the Ryka Devotion Plus 3. This model can be mistaken for athletic footwear because of its sporty vibe.
The Devotion Plus 3 features an Anatomical Precise-Return insole, enhancing the shock protection offered by the RE-ZORB foam midsole. Its unique shape delivers arch support and cups the heel for a steady feel.