Um, running is hard. Between the typical fatigue, muscle soreness and huffing and puffing, we don’t really need any extra challenges thrown our way — but when you’re a flat-footed runner, things get extra special. Flat feet can cause overpronation during each foot strike, and this excess inward rotation of the foot can lead to pain and lower-extremity injuries.
So what’s a runner to do? Simple: Seek out the support you need before you hit the road.
After surveying more than 30 runners on their arch height and shoe preferences, it became clear that even the best shoes may not deliver quite enough support for low-arched ladies. Start with a high-support shoe (like the ones suggested by fellow runners below), but don’t be afraid to add a commercial or prescription orthotic like many of those who were surveyed did.
Cassandra Pisone, a health and food writer, shared that after experiencing jarring knee pain as a high school cross-country runner, a physical therapist linked her pain to her flat feet. She received a prescription for custom orthotics, and says, “I’ve been running for 12 years and pretty much the last 10 have been injury-free.”
Even if you don’t go the prescription route, over-the-counter insoles could help. Smitha Arons, a lawyer and runner who blogs at Running with SD Mom shared that she uses Superfeet insoles with her Hokas to help get her through multiple half and full marathons each year.
1. Asics GT-2000
Several of those surveyed cited the Asics GT-2000 series as their go-to shoe. Crystal Gauvin, a professional archer and recreational runner says, “I have very flat feet and have struggled with running shoes. I’ve had to go with very heavy, full-support shoes like the Asics GT-2000 with over-the-counter orthotics.”
Asics GT-2000 5, $90 at Asics
2. Asics GT-1000
Like the 2000, the GT-1000 was another overpronator fan favorite. Jillian Tengood, a post-doctoral fellow and group exercise instructor who blogs at FitYaf, even doubles up on the two shoes, “I train in ASICS GT-2000 and race in ASICS GT-1000.”
Asics GT-1000 6, $90 at Asics
3. Asics GEL-Kayano
Asics seem to be coming up gold for the women who need extra stabilization, like Amy Marcum who recently started using the GEL-Kayanos. “I was just told I have flat feet and hyper-mobility joint syndrome. I’m actually being sent for additional testing to find the root cause. I went and was re-fitted at my running store into stability shoes.
Asics GEL-Kayano 24, $160 at Asics
4. Brooks Ravenna 6
Brooks is one of my personal favorite brands of running shoes (especially for trail running), so I was surprised more women with flat feet didn’t swear by them. However, Summer Marie Groth, a health coach and personal trainer was one who didn’t hesitate to talk up the brand. “I’ve found a new love for the Brooks Ravenna. I’ve had the 4s and the 6s and I swear by them. I have flat feet, but these are a runner’s dream — I always recommend to those with flat feet and need a bit of control. Plus, I ran in my 6s for Boston Marathon this past year and my feet were still feeling fresh and fine at the finish line — didn’t even have a single blister, black toenail or rubbage of any sort!”
Brooks Ravenna 8 Road Running Shoes, $110 at Brooks
5. Hoka One One Bondi 5
Hokas may not look like the lightweight, slim-line running shoes that most people don, but don’t overlook their benefits. Despite the oversized appearance, they’re actually quite lightweight and offer greater support for overpronators. Arons says she discovered them after a negative experience, “I started running in Nikes when I first decided to do the couch to 5K thing in 2013. Sure enough, within days, I started developing horrific foot pain. I went to my local running store and they said I would be the ideal candidate for Hokas because of the cushion. You can only imagine the change from Nikes to Hokas.”
Arons currently rotates between Hoka Bondi 4s, Hoka Stinson ATR and Hoka Challengers, which are ideal for varied terrain.
Hoka One One Bondi 5, $150 at Hoka One One
Originally published December 2015. Updated October 2017.