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People with flat feet need the right style of shoe for their feet to be comfortable.
Flat feet can cause back pain, bunions, or tendon damage. However, wearing shoes that support the arches can make walking more comfortable and reduce the risk of complications.
Flat feet do not look the same for everyone. The toes may point outward, the Achilles tendon can be tight, or the arches of the feet may return to normal when standing.
A doctor who specializes in foot health can give advice on the best style of shoe for an individual with flat feet.
For example, they may prescribe a custom orthotic device. This is a shoe insert designed to fit a person’s foot, usually based on a plaster cast. This supports the foot and keeps it in line.
It is important to choose shoes with removable inserts for flexible use with one’s own orthotic device. Wide fit shoes with arch and heel support are generally best for flat feet.
Keep reading to learn more about how to choose the right shoes for flat feet, plus some of the best options available for purchase.
Most people with flat feet need a wide fit shoe. In general, they should try to avoid shoes with a pointed or narrow front.
The front of the shoe should be high enough not to squash the toes. Shoes that are wide at the toes allow them to spread out. This reduces pressure on the front half of the foot, which can help prevent pain and bunions.
A firm sole and heel support can prevent the foot from rolling inward. The medical term for this is overpronation, which is common in people with flat feet.
Overpronation can cause pain and may damage the tendons in the foot. The most common injury is to the tendon that connects the bones on the inside of the foot to the calf muscle. This tendon supports the foot when walking.
People with flat feet should choose shoes with a reinforced heel. A firm heel counter in the shoe provides support for the foot. This can protect the heel, the tendon that attaches the bones of the foot to the calf muscle, and the Achilles tendon. This tendon attaches the heel bone to the calf muscle.
Wearing high heeled shoes puts a lot of pressure on the front half of the foot. It can cause pain and damage the tendons. If possible, choose a low heel with cushioning and heel support.
Different shoes meet different needs. For example, a person may need one style of shoe for being on their feet at work all day and another for exercise.
The shoes on this list cover a range of styles. All have the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) seal of acceptance. The APMA test for safety and quality, deciding whether or not shoes can benefit foot health.
To all shoes on the list below, alternative brands and styles are available.
1. Women’s work shoes
- Alegria Duette Black Shoe: $89.95
This shoe has a flexible, nonslip sole. The slip-on design and sections of elastic on each side make it easy to get the shoe on and off.
A firm sole supports the foot and distributes weight evenly, while the padded heel offers comfort and a snug fit. The removable insert means that these shoes can accommodate a custom orthotic.
2. Men’s work shoes
The soles of these shoes are nonslip to suit a range of workplaces. An extra layer of material between the sole and the inner works to cushion and protect the foot.
A wide front to the shoe allows room for the toes to spread. Shoes with laces have more flexibility for tightening or loosening the fit.
3. Women’s dress shoes
- Vionic Minnie Kitten Heel Pump: $139.95
The heel is less than 2 inches, with heel support to protect the foot. The design of the shoe stabilizes the foot to help prevent it from rolling inward.
A cushioned footbed supports the foot and makes these shoes more comfortable. The strap is adjustable to get the right fit. It is best to wear these heels for short periods of time to begin with, to break them in.
4. Men’s dress shoes
- Vionic Shane Oxford: $149.95
These shoes have a deep heel cup to support the foot. The sole is rubber, which provides more support to reduce the risk of tendon damage.
The insert is removable for use with a custom orthotic.
5. Children’s shoes
Children have flexible bones and joints, and when they stand up, their feet will often be flat. Most children develop arches around the age of 6, but some will continue to have flat feet.
Look for shoes that are flexible and durable for play, with a firm sole that supports the foot.
6 and 7. Running shoes
Runners with flat feet have a lot to think about when choosing sneakers. They need to consider running gait, foot shape, and whether or not collapsed arches are causing flat feet.
Stretched or damaged tendons can cause collapsed arches. In this case, the arch of the foot needs support while it heals.
If a person has naturally flat feet, using arch support when running can push the foot into an unnatural shape. This may cause stress on the joints and muscles. Choose running shoes without arch support to avoid this.
For both types of flat feet, look for shoes with a wide base to spread the pressure evenly across the foot. Cushioning and support are important for absorbing shock and can help prevent overpronation.
8 and 9. Shoes for summer
Shoes designed for warm weather often have an open design to keep the feet cool. However, this can offer the feet less support. Look for a wide, sturdy sole, cushioning, and heel support.
FitFlop cushioned soles absorb shock. They offer more support at the heels and toes, as well as a softer midsole for comfort.
10 and 11. Slippers
Poorly designed slippers can cause problems for people with flat feet if they do not provide support. Look for slippers with firm soles and heel support.
Spenco slippers have a molded rubber sole, heel cupping, and arch support. A lightweight outer reduces weight and pressure on the feet.
According to an Institute for Preventive Foot Health national survey from 2012, around 18 million adults in the United States have flat feet. However, every instance of flat feet will be slightly different.
Once a person knows what style of shoe will best fit their feet, they can compare shoes for style and price.
Shoes that do not offer enough support can lead to complications for people with flat feet. When a person wears them alongside orthotic devices such as heel supports, the right shoes can reduce the risk of bunions, tendon damage, and joint problems.
People with flat feet should look for shoes with enough room for the toes, cushioned soles, heel support, and removable inserts.