If you’re like me, along with a few million others, you have flat feet and suffer some pain on an almost daily basis. You probably curse your luck, and who’d blame you?. I know l do! I have also made some major faux-pas when shopping and buying shoes that l hope would bring me some modicum of relief. Needless to say, I have wasted untold amounts of money on shoes that became unbearable after a few days, sometimes even hours. I have been known to abandon shoes worn just once. It took me a while to realize that one needs to put comfort over looks when it comes to shoes. This is especially true for someone like me who travels often and enjoys walking. Here is my guide to finding and picking the best possible shoes for your flat feet.
What is Flat Feet?
Flat feet is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a postural problem where the arches of the feet are non-existent, resulting in the entire sole of the foot being flat with the ground. It is estimated that 20-30% of the population suffers from either one (unilateral) or both (bilateral). That’s a lot of people, so don’t feel bad!
Having an arch in the foot provides a springiness and elasticity between your forefoot and hind foot. This helps distribute the weight put upon it. With flat feet, there is pain radiating up from the foot to the calves, thighs and back since there is no arch. End result is a lot of misery. It is entirely possible to have flat feet and not experience any pain. For those lucky ones, they can just go about life as is. I’ve had foot problems since l was a child. While in primary school, I was playing with my friends. As l was going down the slide, my left leg got caught in one of the side rail opening (in those days, there were side rail openings) and l went down. Needless to say, l’ve forever had hip problems. Combine that with the flat feet, and l find it hard to wear “fashionable” shoes like high heels and certainly not for a long time.
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What causes flat feet?
- Family History. Sometimes, you’re just screwed in life :-)
- Nerve damage can also be a root cause of flat feet
- Arthritis and weak arches can end up in flat feet
- Health problems like obesity, diabetes and hypertension. It’s not unusual for pregnant women to develop flat feet due to the increased elastin and other temporary changes of the body.
- Wearing shoes without correct support. I suspect this is especially true of women who put beauty and looking good over comfort.
- Normal aging process! This is my favorite one. A lot of people are so afraid of getting old and will go to crazy lengths like Botox injections, plastic surgery etc, but sometimes age just catches up with you and you have to deal with it. Flat feet is most common in women over the age of 40! Just one more thing to look forward to in life. Oh Joy!!! :-)
How do you know if you have flat feet?
You can go to the doctor and have it properly diagnosed or you can do it the old fashioned way. You wet the foot, and then stand on something smooth like wet concrete or heavy paper. The more imprint you leave, the flatter the foot. Most medical practitioners are able to diagnose flat feet by simply looking at the patient whilst standing.
What are the available treatments for Flat Feet?
- Arch Support: This is often the most recommended form of treatment by podiatrists. For people who show no symptoms, there is obviously no reason to do anything. For those experiencing pain, podiatrists might suggest rigid inserts. I wore those for over two years as a teenager in Boston and it did absolutely nothing to correct my flat feet. Zip! All it did was give me more pain on my heels. God, I hated those hard orange things. My older sisters had to check on me daily to make sure l was wearing them. I remember the day after they moved back to Nigeria permanently, I threw those suckers out. I don’t know if they work for others, but for me.. Nope.Just a whole lot of money down the drain. It is also something that one needs to wear forever. Mmm..No!
- Removable corrective Arch Support. I have found them to be wonderful and highly recommend them if needed. You just slip them in your shoes and get relief. I haven’t had to do that lately because a lot of shoes (at least that l wear) now come with the arch support in the form of raised insoles.
- Gymnastics and various forms of exercise designed to reduce pain in the tendons.
- In severe cases, surgery might be recommended.
There are some people who claim to be able to cure flat feet. I am a bit skeptical about that. Did you know that a long time ago, flat feet was a cause of rejection to serve in the military because of perceived foot stress? I can understand that for sure.
Tips for picking the best shoes for flat feet:
- Shop for shoes later during the day. It’s generally known that feet swell as the day passes. This way, you can get the shoes that fit the best and give you optimum comfort.
- Makes sure you try the shoe on your larger foot. You can always wear thicker socks, but if the shoe is tight from the get go on the bigger foot, then chuck it and try another size.
- Recognize that not all sizes are uniform. Just like women’s clothing, shoe sizes can vary. Wearing a size 8 Nike for instance doesn’t mean you will be a size 8 Adidas. Even within the same brand, I have noticed differences, so be open minded.
- Wear socks that you intend on wearing with the shoes. If you normally wear thick socks, make sure that’s what you’re wearing when you try shoes on instead of those super thin hosiery the store gives you to avoid a tight fit later on.
- Make sure their is some wiggle space between your big toe and the tip of the shoe for flexibility.
- Wear them around the house to get a feel for them.
- If you have wide feet like l do, make sure to ask if the styles come in “Wide” styles. If not, you might need to go up a size, like with my NB 410 shoes below in the picture which fit perfectly.
Best Type of Shoes for Flat feet:
From this list of shoes, you should be able to find the best arch support shoes that will work for you. In the not so distant past, there was little choice. Thankfully, a lot of the companies have stepped and designed nice looking footwear for flat feet. No more looking like Nurse Rachet! :-) . I’m sure there are other good shoes for flat feet, but these are some of the best for sure.
Running Shoes for Flat Feet:
The best running shoes for overpronation provide stability with good cushioning and low arch. They provide good motion control for overpronators (flat footers whose feet roll inwards and the arch of the foot flattens). These are my favorite type of shoes for comfortable walking when we travel. Here are some excellent choices of good running shoes for flat feet. I’m no runner, I walk in these.
ASICS Men’s Gel Venture 5 Running Shoe, Black/Onyx/Charcoal, 10.5 4E US
Nike Women’s Air Max Sequent 2 Black/Mtlc Hematite/Dark Grey Running Shoe 9 Women US
Cross Trainers for Flat Feet:
Cross trainers are excellent for flat feet. Resistance training sports such as basketball and tennis put weight on all your joints. The arch in the cross trainers should have a mid sole that lifts your arch, making it feel as if the ground rises to your feet.
ASICS Men’s Gel-Craze TR 2 Training Shoe,Black/Platinum/Onyx,8.5 M US
Tennis Shoes for Flat Feet:
For those that prefer tennis shoes for walking in addition to playing their favorite sport. Asics makes a good pair with front and rear support. My mother-in-law swear she has the best work shoes since we presented here with a pair :-).
ASICS Men’s Gel-Solution Speed 3 Tennis Shoe, Black/Grey, 10 M US
Walking Shoes for flat feet:
These are some of my favorites when l want to look stylish and comfortable. Sometimes when we’re sightseeing, we might walk 5 miles or more. The last thing you want is feet pain. I like the support that these shoes provide and can definitely recommend them highly. You can never go wrong with Ecco.I have owned many pairs over the years and have yet to be disappointed. I also love my Clarks Wave shoes and l won’t bother glossing over it since you can find them on the travel gear recommendations page.
ECCO Footwear Womens Chase Tie Sneaker, Warm Grey, 36 EU/5-5.5 M US
Best high heels for flat feet:
As mentioned previously, I don’t wear heels too often. I find stilettos painful for the most part. What works for my flat feet are chunkier heels because l find they provide support. I am also willing to pay a little bit more for that comfort. My favorite brands are Clarks and Aerosoles. These two black pairs take me everywhere :-). I feel these are the best shoes for women with flat feet (heels).
Aerosoles Women’s Plush Around Wedge Sandal,Black Canvas,8 M US
I kick it up a notch (weddings mainly) with these :-) :
Clarks Women’s Kendra Sienna Pump,Black Leather,US 8 M
Best sandals for flat feet:
In addition to my trusty Merrell sandals, I have also in the past worn Teva sandals and l loved them to death. One of the advantages of coming from a big family with lots of girls is that l can always pass them on, so l never feel guilty about buying shoes. I reached out to Anita, our friend in Portugal and she swears by her Chaco sandals. In her exact words “I love Chaco sandals with their terrific built-in arch. I wore those suckers for 2 years daily in Central America and was super-gluing them at the end. I’m on my 3rd pair now.. Haha!”
Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal,Black,9 M US
For great, classic, stylish and most comfortable shoes for flat feet for both men and women, Federico and l both vote for Clarks original desert boots :-) . I find them comfortable enough, but even more so with an insert while he loves them as is. So, in our humble opion, the desert boot wins for best shoes for overpronation!
Clarks Originals Men’s Desert Boot,Beeswax,10 M US
Clarks Originals Women’s Desert Lace-Up Boot,Taupe,8 M US
You can’t go wrong in picking any of these shoes for flat feet. Of course you don’t need to own them all :-). It’s just nice to know that having flat feet doesn’t condemn you to a life of pain. You can find awesome footwear that delivers.
Do you or anyone you know have flat feet and suffers? Have you tried any of these brands for relief? If not, what is your preferred brand of footwear to alleviate pain?