If you regularly read the blog, you probably know our position regarding shoes designed for flat feet. We oppose brands or retailers who blindly recommend a specific category of running shoes simply because you have flat feet. Look best walking shoes for plantar fasciitis.
The “one model fits all” approach is imperfect, because each runner is unique, just like every shoe model – even if they are made by the same brand and from the same category.
A balanced and thoughtful buying process guides the runner through various options, taking into account the history of his running shoes, personal preferences, budget and running conditions. The final choice may or may not be a model from the sustainability category.
It is also likely that shoes from the “neutral” category will work just fine.
Professional sport was lucky because we had the opportunity to interact with thousands of readers, and we came to the following conclusion: runners with flat feet do not have to wear “stabilizing” shoes.
Our opinion does not coincide with the generally accepted dogma, which suggests otherwise. The most accessible literature implies that runners with flat feet are prone to injury, and therefore need special shoes. This is not true at many levels, because even runners with a normal height of the arch of the foot are not protected from injuries – they get injured all the time.
If there is convincing research (with a large sample size and consistent methodology) that establishes evidence that runners with flat feet are more prone to injury than runners with a normal arch of the foot, we would like to read it.
We also take into account that not all stabilizing models are the same. The Brooks Transcend 4 works differently than the Nike Zoom Odyssey 2, which in turn works differently than the Asics Kayano 23. And so on.
The Stabilized Sneakers category was created in the early 1980s when the sports shoe industry was still in its infancy. This meant that most models used a primitive midsole design, which was based on gluing a rubber outsole and upper mesh with a low-quality piece of carved foam.
The midsole profile was also very thin, which sometimes meant that the rounded edges of the upper in the heel area protruded beyond the edge of the sole. Why? Because the old sneakers used the technique when the top was directly sewn to the midsole – unlike the modern strobel design, which allows the upper part to sit on a much wider (and more stable) midsole base.
The foot of any runner has pronation (deviation from the vertical) regardless of the height of the arch, for some it is greater than for others. Thus, in those days, this deviation led to the fact that the lower midsole was flattened on the inside. Add to this an army of unprepared runners who enthusiastically go out into the street after the then completely new fashion, and injuries followed quickly. Moreover, a flattened midsole made the leg fall dangerously inward – even when just standing still!
This led to the fact that brands began to introduce elements of stabilization and support systems on the inside of the midsoles. The high level of injuries in that era was undoubtedly aggravated by the inferior design of shoes, which led to the birth of a paradigm that considers “excessive pronation” or the type of arch of the foot as the cause of the injury. Flat feet were supposed to be a prerequisite for excessive blockage of the foot, as a result of which these two terms are used interchangeably.
In short, hard foam inserts and pronation are a matter of the 70-80s, based on then an effective theory, created under completely different circumstances.
But in 2017, the midsoles for running shoes became very advanced, both in the overall design and in the materials used.
Even the classic “neutral” models, such as the Brooks Ghost 9 or Saucony Ride 9, offer a high level of built-in stabilization. The high-tech foam materials used in models such as adidas Supernova Sequence 8 retain their structure throughout the life of the shoe.
So, if you have flat feet and you are looking for shoes to buy, what should you do? Great question.
Obviously, we are not going to make a final list of shoes that is “suitable for runners with flat feet.” There is no guarantee that this approach works, and anyone who tells you otherwise should know better.
The best way to buy new sneakers is to use your current pair as a reference. After all, this is what worked for you without problems, so the next model should have a similar fit and ride. Or, if it’s not, find the properties you need that are missing from your old shoes. On the other hand, if you are an absolute beginner in the world of running shoes, then we recommend that you stick to stable shoes, and it is also worth considering a few supporting neutral models, mentioned at the end of this article.
In this article, we will recommend models based on a set of properties that you are looking for or feel in your current model. For example, there is a certain group of runners who need shoes, which remains stable without aggressive “pronation control”.
You already know that there are sneakers whose midsole controls the pronation of the foot by dividing the shoes into clear, hard and soft areas, with the inside looking harder than the outside.
Some may prefer shoes that have this clear division into hard and soft sides. Others want shoes that offer a noticeable sense of arch support. And a small percentage of individuals do not want additional elements of stabilization from the inside, but they are looking for stable shoes with a softening of the shock load.
Ultimately, the best running sneakers are those that are comfortable for you, and we hope we can point you in the right direction. This is not a simple list, and it is not exhaustive, because the process of buying sneakers is purely individual.
We divided the list into several categories; See which one best suits your needs.