Pes planus – (flat feet to most of us) is a postural deformity in which the arch of the foot comes into or almost comes into contact with the ground when the foot is planted on the floor. If you find that you’re suffering from flat feet, don’t worry – your certainly not alone. It’s an extremely common problem affecting roughly 1 in 4 people.
While it’s not normally a problem for the majority of folks, it can nightmare for runners, especially new runners who aren’t wearing the right shoes.
In this guide, we will explore what flat feet are, take a look at the best running shoes for different arches before recommending some exercises that everyone with flat feet can do.
The arch of your foot is made up of 2 bones, the tarsal and the metatarsal. Supported and strengthened by tendons and ligaments, the arch has evolved to support your weight when standing.
The arch of the foot is your bodies built-in shock absorber; when your foot strikes the ground, the arch naturally absorbs the impact, protecting your ankles, knees and hips from the shock.
People with low and collapsed arches don’t have this natural level of protection which means that when the foot strikes the ground, the impact is often absorbed by the ankles and knees which is one of the reasons that those with flat feet are prone to injury.
Do I have flat feet?
So how do you know if you have flat feet? You can normally tell if you have low arches simply by standing in your bare feet and asking someone to take a picture of your foot. People with low arches will have little to no ground clearance at the arch.
Many runners still recommend using the “wet test” to diagnose foot type. If in doubt, head down to the nearest running store with a foot analysis machine and they will be able to give you a definitive answer.
Bonus tip: If you’ve got an old pair of running shoes you can take a quick look at the sole of your shoe; if the inner edge looks worn when compared to the rest of the sole then there’s a good chance you’re an overpronator.
In the video below you’ll be shown how to tell if you have flat feet or fallen arches.
As a runner with flat feet, you’ll find that you over-pronate (although this isn’t always the case); your foot naturally rolls inwards way too much, stressing the ankle, knee and lower leg muscles. Unfortunately, those runners with fallen arches tend to be susceptible to shin splints, knee problems and even back issues.
There are a couple of options that can make a world of difference, orthotics and specialist running shoes.
Orthotics are insoles that help create a fake arch which improves cushioning and helps reduce the amount of shock from each foot strike. Most orthotics will also help you to control the amount your foot rolls.
However, the most popular option for helping runners with flat feet improve are specialist running shoes.
Once you’re aware of how your foot falls, it’s time to start taking action!
As a runner with flat feet, there’s one main thing you need to look for when buying a new pair of shoes – a reduction in overpronation.
The big difference between standard, neutral running shoes and shoes for those runners with flat feet is that typically running shoes for overpronators have an added layer of foam underneath the arch which helps to emulate a natural foot arch.
There are two main types of shoe for overpronators – stability and motion control; the severity of your overpronation will determine which of these types you should buy.
The majority of stability shoes are suitable for those runners with some overpronation. Typically they have a “band” under the arch that helps to reduce the pronation by encouraging the foot to turn out.
In extreme cases, those with an overpronation should look at motion control shoes. These shoes have all the benefits of stability shoes, but the big difference is that the foam that sits under the arch tends to be significantly stiffer (sometimes even a more solid material is injected).
You’ll often find that motion control shoes have a different upper design that locks your foot into place.
If you’re tempted by a motion control shoe I would advise you try before you buy – lace up a pair and walk around on the flat. If it feels uncomfortable when you take a few steps then chances are that these certainly aren’t the shoes for you.
|Mens Mizuno Wave Alchemy 12||5||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
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|Mens Saucony Stabil CS3||5||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Womens Mizuno Wave Alchemy 12||5||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Womens Asics Gel Foundation 11||5||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
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|Womens Brooks Addiction 11||5||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Womens Saucony Stabil CS3||5||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
The great news for any of us suffering from flat feet is that there are exercises that you can do to strengthen those arches.
Ping Pong Ball Pickup
Place the ping pong ball on the ground and pick it up with your toes. Once you’ve grasped the ping pong ball, hold for a few seconds and place back on the ground and repeat.
Stand on the edge of a step, making sure that only the ball of your foot is in contact with the surface, the heel slightly lower. Practice raising up so you’re almost on your tip-toes. Gently lower and repeat.
Soup Can Rolling
This is another great exercise that you can do from the comfort of your favorite chair.
Put a can of soup down on a flat surface so that it can freely roll back and forth and put the arch of your foot on the can and roll it back and forth.