Having flat feet can be a pain if you’re not outfitted with the right gear. Shin splints, knee pain, and Achilles aches can come up quickly if you’re running in a shoe that doesn’t offer the support you need. Use this list to help you find the best running shoes for flat feet on budget.
Kinds of flat feet
Flat feet, also known as “fallen arches,” occur when your feet press flat against the ground. They’re fairly common and usually cause no concern.
Some runners have anatomically flat feet, while others have “collapsed arches,” which are flat due to muscle weakness. Although the two types may appear to be very similar, how you approach buying shoes for them differs greatly, according to Dr. Kimberly Davis of the RunLab, an Austin, Texas-based clinic that assesses running biomechanics and provides physical therapy and training.
When shopping for a shoe for a flat-footed runner with collapsed arches due to muscle weakness, Dr. Davis recommends adding arch support until the foot becomes stronger and can support its own arch. However, with an anatomically flat foot, arch support simply transfers stress up into the knee, where it can cause knee problems. That’s why it’s critical to understand your flat foot type before selecting a shoe—and to consider not only your foot but your entire body, including knees, hips, and range of motion.
Factors to consider for choosing the best running shoes for flat feet
There was a time when you could only buy one or two pairs of running shoes. When you walk into a store or shop online these days, it’s not uncommon to be presented with a variety of brands and styles to suit your specific needs.
Categories of running shoes
Running shoes are classified into three types, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:
- Cushioned shoes are ideal for people who have a high arch or rigid feet and supinate frequently (weight is more on the outside of each foot while running).
- Stability shoes: These aid people who pronate (place more weight on the inside of each foot while running) and have a collapsed arch.
- Motion-control shoes: These provide the most stability for people who have flat feet or are severe pronators.
Comfort — the ultimate goal
The ultimate goal, regardless of shoe category, is comfort.
Dr. Steven Neufeld, a foot and ankle surgeon at The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics, believes that comfort is the most important factor to consider when purchasing a running shoe.
Neufeld adds that when looking for a running shoe for flat feet, you should consider your specific feet.
“If you have stiff and rigid flat feet, look for a shoe that is softer and provides adequate cushioning when the foot strikes the ground. However, if you have flat feet that are flexible, a shoe with arch support that is not overly rigid is likely to be the best option,” he explained.
Neufeld also advised considering a shoe designed to prevent pronation, as overpronation is often associated with flat feet. And, because pronation causes the foot to widen, he advises avoiding shoes with a narrow toe box and a floppy heel.
Best practices when shopping for shoes
When it comes to shopping for running shoes, here are a few suggestions:
- Fittings should be done at a specialty running store with knowledgeable staff.
- Before purchasing the shoes, try them on in the store.
- When your feet are swollen at the end of the day, don’t try on shoes.
- In case the shoes don’t fit, inquire about a return or guarantee policy.
Best running shoes for flat feet
1. Saucony Guide 13
The Saucony Guide is designed to do exactly what its name implies—gently steer you toward a more neutral stride. Built for comfort and cushion at the expense of a little extra weight, it’s an admittedly hefty shoe for good reason: the midsole contains three layers of foam designed to dial in a custom-fitting feel. That fit has earned it a following among a wide range of runners, including those with flat or wider feet. Despite its weight, the shoe has a quick energy return and a smooth ride that is never clunky or rigid. Inside the shoe, a guidance frame made of bouncy fused TPU beads combats overpronation while remaining unobtrusive and keeps you rolling through your stride.
2. Mizuno Wave Inspire 16
Mizuno fans with flat feet have consistently gravitated toward the Wave Inspire series because of its nice balance of moderate cushioning and stability. Overpronators, in particular, will find much to like here: The midsole of the 16 has a denser, reshaped plate at the inner arch that is designed to support your foot if it rolls inward. The new midsole is also slightly more flexible without losing the snap of previous versions, which translates to smoother transitions. Our only quibble with this model is that the forefoot feels narrower than previous versions, which could be an issue for those with wider feet.
3. Asics GT-1000 8
A model in Asics’s stability-focused GT series, the 1000, will gently guide your foot from overpronating while providing plenty of very firm cushion and responsiveness. Flat-footed runners will appreciate the wider platform and less sculpted last, as well as a long-lasting, high-mileage midsole and outsole to keep runners of all sizes going. The latest version of the shoe has a lighter feel and a more streamlined design; however, the upper can run a little snug, so if you have a wider forefoot, consider sizing up or purchasing the wide version. It’s difficult to find a more durable shoe at this price.
4. Brooks Dyad 11
Heavier runners and those with wide feet have long appreciated the Dyad’s spacious toe box, which allows your feet to spread out and feel at ease. The shoe has also gained popularity among flat-footed individuals, owing to its generous fit and a straighter last that allows for more on-ground contact through the midsole. Yes, the shoe is heavy—but with that weight comes a lot of long-lasting cushioning and support. The shoe’s midsole has a soft, memory foam feel that conforms to different foot shapes. Two dual arch pods at the midfoot provide a small amount of stability for overpronators while having no effect on runners with a neutral stride, and a “heel crash” pad smoots the heel. Injury-prone and injured runners have also found that the Dyad has enough space to accommodate orthotics—so this shoe is a solid option for walkers, as well.
5. New Balance Fresh Foam 860 V11
The New Balance 860 has returned, this time in a redesigned Fresh Foam guise. It still has a firmer medial post that adds support to the inner midsole. This is, however, a modified 860. One with a softer ride and new looks. One with a true-to-size upper as well as smooth and soft interiors.
A triple-density midsole provides a more cushioned and neutral ride than before. The firmer wedge blends into the midsole seamlessly, while the rest of the midsole makes the 860 comfortable enough for most runs without feeling sluggish.
The outsole is made up of a mix of hard and soft rubber, which provides grip and a smooth transition.
To sum up, the softer Fresh Foam 860V11 is a versatile trainer that will appeal to most runners, flat-footed or otherwise.
6. Altra Provision 4
At the heart of Altra’s philosophy is a commitment to designing running shoes with an enlarged toe box to allow the foot to expand and the toes to fan out, as well as zero or very low drop from heel to toe. This widened shape, combined with a straighter last, works well for many runners with flat or wide feet. Runners of all foot shapes have found it to be comfortable and supportive enough to forego orthotics. This version of the shoe brings in Altra’s new InnovArch, a mesh layer beneath the inner side of your foot designed to ensure a more secure, customized fit.
7. Hoka One One Arahi 5
The Arahi demonstrates that a stable shoe can still feel lightweight and responsive, rather than bulky or clunky. This iteration of the shoe provides a lot of comfort and cushion to runners of all foot types, especially those with slightly wider feet, thanks to its open construction and roomy forefoot section. The 5 also boasts a new streamlined upper and lighter-weight feel, plus a stiffer midsole that works well for heavier runners.
Hope our list of best running shoes for flat feet can help you to make the best choice.