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How to Select the Best Running Shoes for Women with Flat Feet

Susanna Sisson's picture
Woman Running at Dawn

Flat feet or fallen arches can come with a lot of other issues and for runners with flat feet it means four things: they have to take extreme care with stretching, training, knowing warning signs of problems, and selection of running shoes. There are a lot of considerations when selecting the right footwear so I decided to consult the experts regarding how to select the best running shoes for women with flat feet.


“For people with flat feet, support and cushioning are very important,” says Andrew Smith of True Grit Running Company in Fort Smith, Arkansas, “and if you have weak ankles you would also want to consider an ankle brace to provide more support and prevent pronation. For any runner, proper fit is the key, but for people with flat feet, it’s even more important.”

“Some runners also use an extra insert in their running shoes,” explains True Grit owner and organizer of “Women Run Arkansas” in the River Valley area, Melissa Vitale, “so they purchase a Soft Sol or Stenco insole, remove the original insole to use as a template, cut to size, and replace both insoles in the shoe. The extra cushion helps protect the feet, knees, and back and provides extra support since pronation and over-pronation are often issues in people with flat feet." You may also want to read about these 4 tips that will make your athletic shoes last longer.

About 20-30% of the population suffers from fallen arches in one or both feet. Flat feet are often associated with plantar fasciitis, a painful disorder in which the fascia and plantar tendons of the foot become inflamed and begin to tear away from the heel. Stretching is the best way to prevent plantar fasciitis. Over-pronation in women with flat feet can lead to other painful issues such as shin splints, tendonitis of the knee, and hip and back problems.

In order to get the best fit many stores, including True Grit Running Company, have gone high tech and do video gait analysis which determines any anomalies such as pronation, over-pronation, or supination. This high tech method of determining the best shoes for women with flat feet can save a lot of money and misery as well as reduce the risk of injury due to over-pronation which causes the foot to roll toward the midline leading to the knees having to overcompensate.

Shoe manufacturers take the problem of over-pronation into consideration in their design of running shoes. The best shoes for women with flat feet have a medial support made of a harder dual density foam injected under the arch on the medial side to increase stability, support, and to control motion. By the way popular "barefoot" running shoes may cause injury.

Runners who are extreme athletes and participate in events like the Spartan Races need to be particularly aware of purchasing the best running shoes that provide the most stability and motion control for flat feet. Here is a good runners review of specialized athletic shoes for foot pain relief.

Best Running Shoes for Women with Flat Feet

Here’s a quick view table with the 10 best running shoes for women with flat feet as recommended by runningshoesguru.com that includes price. We recommend you visit their site for more information and a longer review of each shoe.

Best Exercises for Women with Flat Feet

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“Flat feet can be problematic,” says Dr. Kenneth Farrish, a prominent podiatrist in Jackson, Mississippi, “but there are exercises that can help strengthen the muscles of the feet and ankles and improve flexibility and balance, all issues that can lead to injuries such as torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs) of the knee. Flat feet can even cause problems with the hip flexors and lower back.”

Dr. Farrish recommends these daily stretching techniques and exercises for anyone with flat feet:

1. Golf ball roll – place a golf ball on the floor under the foot on the side of the big toe. Roll your foot forward and backward between the great toe and heal along the inner side of the foot for about 3 minutes on each foot. This can be done standing or sitting.

2. Towel scrunch – place a towel on the floor and with your toes scrunch the towel toward your body. Keep repeating 50-60 times and increase by 10-20 reps each day until you are doing about 150-200 repetitions with each foot.

3. Toe spreads – practice splaying your toes out in a fan like motion. This not only strengthens the muscles of the foot but activates the muscles of the ankle and anterior portion of the leg.

4. Stair stretches – place both feet on a stair and slowly lower both heels to stretch the tendons of the foot then back up until the foot is straight. DO NOT BOUNCE. You may do this exercise one foot at a time or together. Do 50-60 repetitions and work up to 100 daily.

5. Toe raises – stand with feet evenly placed and raise heels so that the muscles in the back of the leg contract then lower. Do 50-60 repetitions and work up to 100 daily.

6. Ankle circles – turn ankles clockwise then counter-clockwise for 3-4 minutes on each ankle.

Also See: 3 Most Common Foot Problems for Runners.

If you are a flat-footed runner or want to start a running program, don’t despair, just remember to start slowly, pay attention to what your body is telling you, do the proper stretches and exercises for your feet and supporting muscles and be sure to choose the best running shoes for women with flat feet in order to avoid future problems.