“OMG! What’s wrong with my legs?” was my initial thought when I saw how my feet look in the mirror from behind. Baffled and in shock, I was looking at a case of overpronation of my feet, which made me wonder if there is something I could do for flat feet now that I apparently have them.
To be honest, I was really upset with this newly discovered feature of mine. For a couple of days, just thinking about having flat feet brought tears to my eyes.
But, I put on my big girl pants and decided that this won’t be the end of me (or at least my confidence). I decided I would thoroughly research this topic in order to learn everything there is to know – what it actually is, how it occurs, how it can be treated, and whether it can be prevented.
I also decided I would see what shoes are best for flat feet, so I could have an excuse for yet another online shopping spree.
I have gathered all the necessary information that I’ll gladly share with you today. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into our topic!
What exactly are flat feet?
Flat feet is a term used to describe a foot condition that’s characterized by low or no arch. It is most visible when a person is standing on a flat surface and the pads of their feet completely touch the ground. Normally, there should be a medium arch visible.
Believe it or not, we were actually all born with no arches. All babies have flat feet, and the arches start to appear around 2-3 years of age.
According to research, two out of ten adults have flat feet, which is a not-so-terrible condition to have. Usually, it poses no serious or life-threatening problems, but it can result in mild to severe ankle, hip, back, or knee pain.
Having flat feet can be a result of genetics. However, it can also occur as a cause of certain problems which greatly increase the risk of flat feet, like Achilles tendon injuries, obesity, pregnancy, diabetes, cerebral paralysis, Down Syndrome, or others.
Are there some different types of flat feet?
There are four major types of flat feet: flexible, rigid, adult-acquired, and vertical talus.
Flexible flat feet refer to a condition where the arches are visible when the person is standing or sitting. In other words, the arches can be seen when there is both pressure and no pressure on the feet.
This is the most common type that usually appears in childhood. It can even result in tendons and ligaments in the feet swelling, stretching, or tearing.
Rigid flat feet are the type of feet that have no arches at all. This condition usually appears in adolescence and continues to get worse as one gets older. It is characterized by extreme foot pain and difficulty when flexing the feet up and down or moving them from one side to the other.
Adult-acquired flat feet are characterized by fallen or collapsed arches. This causes the feet to turn outward. This problem usually affects one leg, and it is caused by inflammation in the leg tendon that’s supporting the arch.
Vertical talus refers to a birth defect that prevents the arches from ever forming because the talus bone in the ankle is positioned wrong. This condition is also often referred to as “rocker-bottom feet” since the bottom of the feet reminds of the bottom of a rocking chair.
What are some symptoms of flat feet you can spot?
Most of the time, flat feet don’t bother the people who have them. Some don’t even experience any pain or difficulties with this condition and are living a normal and unbothered life.
However, for some others, flat feet are a living nightmare. Some symptoms of flat feet include foot muscle pains, ankle or heel pain, toe drift, pain when walking, leg cramps, and more.
If you’re not sure if you have flat feet or not, just pay attention to the pain you are feeling. For example, if your ankles hurt for no particular reason whatsoever, you might want to take a look at the bottom of your foot.
A good home test you can do to determine whether you have flat feet is to put a piece of paper on a flat surface, dip your foot in the water or something that would leave a trace on the paper, and notice the shape that forms. If you are able to see the entire sole of your foot, then you have flat feet.
What to do for flat feet? How to treat this condition? Can it be prevented?
As we said, many people with flat feet don’t experience any pain. Therefore, they don’t need any type of treatment.
However, some people have drawn the short straw, and they do need some help in treating this condition. Rarely do these treatments involve surgery, but it can still happen in some cases.
Some of the most common non-surgical treatments involve physical therapies, using different supportive aids, like orthotics, arch supports, or leg braces, or taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Many people also opt for at-home flat feet exercises which involve heel stretches, tennis ball rolls, arch lifts, calf raises, and more.
Unfortunately, this condition cannot really be prevented. If it’s not in your genes, all you can do to avoid having flat feet is to steer clear of obesity. However, even that can’t guarantee that you’ll never have to deal with them.
If it’s meant to be – it’ll be. C’est la vie.
What are the best shoes to wear with flat feet?
When it comes to the questions like what to do for flat feet in general and what shoes to wear for flat feet, podiatrists almost always recommend shoes with exceptional arch support.
These shoes simply have to be comfortable and supportive, so the people wearing them, who unfortunately have to struggle with flat feet, could walk freely and have a pain-free gait.
Here are some of the best footwear options to wear for flat feet.
1. HOKA Arahi 6
Some of the best running shoes for flat feet on the market are the Hoka Arahi 6. This brand is famous for creating great shoes for walking, especially for people who are predisposed to flat feet.
These shoes are APMA-approved (The American Podiatric Medical Association) which means that these shoes prioritize exceptional foot health.
They are made out of textile and synthetic upper, and they feature a lace-up closure. They have cute mesh details on top which makes them very lightweight and breathable. They also come with synthetic soles which have decent traction on runner-friendly surfaces.
These shoes are very comfortable and supportive. They come in ten fun colors and designs, and they cost around $220.
2. Anodyne Boots
When it comes to boot options, the best ones for ladies with flat feet are these Anodyne No. 91 Casual Boots.
These lifestyle boots with a hook and loop closure have a very clean, stylish, and trendy look. Their upper is made out of vegan leather and the lining is microfiber.
They come with lightweight outsoles, a rigid heel counter, and a protective toe box. All of these features signalize that these boots are comfortable, supportive, and durable.
What’s great about these boots is that they come in three width options, medium, wide, and extra wide, and they generally fit true to size. However, they are designed a bit wider, so bear that in mind if you happen to have “normal” feet.
These boots are perfect for people with different medical conditions, like bunions, hammertoes, diabetes, plantar fasciitis, and others. They come only in black and cost around $155.
And for our male readers, we have these Anodyne No. 56 Trail Boots. They are perfect for men who want to have a pair of boots for both outdoorsy activities, like hiking, and for casual day-to-day running-some-errands activities.
The upper of these boots is made out of oiled leather, and their outsoles are made of synthetic materials. They come with removable foam insoles whose main purpose is to ensure comfort and great arch support, and with reinforced toe box and rigid heel counter.
Similarly to the aforementioned female boot option, these are also available in three different width options and are suitable for people with different medical conditions, like neuropathy, diabetes, bunions, hammertoes, arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and others.
These boots come in the color black and brown (a.k.a. Whiskey) and cost around $80.
3. Ugg Yarrow Sandals
When it comes to heels, if you happen to have rigid flat feet, it would be for the best if you completely avoided wearing them. However, if you have other types of flat feet, you can get away with wearing shoes with some heel height.
Generally speaking, heels that work best for flat feet are platforms, wedges, kitten, and chunky heels.
For example, these Ugg Yarrow Sandals offer amazing arch support. They are very stylish and trendy and can go well with any type of summery outfit. Their heel is not very high, only 2.5 inches, meaning they’ll give you no trouble.
Their upper is made out of a combination of canvas and suede, and their outsoles are made out of durable rubber. They come with a functional zipper and a strap to tie around the ankle area. They also feature signature Ugg footbeds, meaning comfort is guaranteed with these ones.
These sandals come in three colors, black, natural, and red, and they cost around $100.
4. Vionic Slippers
Finally, people who have flat feet need a pair of slippers with great arch support. It’s important to stay comfy and supported inside your home, as well as outside of it.
One of the best slippers for flat feet are these two Vionic models – Gustavo (for men) and Relax (for women).
Gustavo is a model great for men who prefer a closed-heel model of slippers. They are made out of soft suede, and they come with outsoles made out of extremely durable rubber. These slippers feature faux-shearling covered EVA footbeds which are a sign of guaranteed comfort.
Relax female slippers are probably Vionic’s most well-known model. They are entirely made out of soft 100% polyester terrycloth, and their outsoles are made out of durable rubber. They also come with flexible EVA midsoles for great arch support and amazing comfort.