If you have low arches or flat feet, a supportive shoe can make walks more pleasant (and errands more tolerable). While a good insole can upgrade less-than-supportive footwear, you might just prefer having shoes that feel comfortable and sturdy from the get-go. With that level of convenience in mind, we asked the experts what to look for in a walking shoe that’ll meet flat feet at their level.
How to choose the best walking shoes for flat feet
The first thing you should check in a new pair of shoes is the arch height. Even if you have very low arches, you don’t want the inside of your shoe to be entirely flat, Paulina Piekarska, DPM, a foot and ankle specialist and surgeon at Hartford HealthCare Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute St. Vincent’s Medical Center tells SELF. Your foot should feel held by your shoe. That level of support will keep your feet comfortable for longer. It’ll also take some stress off your knees and lower leg muscles, which tend to work harder to help you walk and maintain your balance when you have flat feet, Jared Gremillion, DPM, a podiatric surgeon at Holston Medical Group in Bristol, Tennessee, tells SELF. Plus, wearing supportive shoes can help prevent plantar fasciitis, which is characterized by stabbing heel pain.
The arch of a shoe shouldn’t be noticeably higher than the arch of your foot, either. If you try on a shoe and feel pressure against your midfoot, that shoe’s arch is likely too high for you, Dr. Piekarska explains. Another feature to avoid is flimsiness: If you can fold a shoe in half, it’s not adequately supportive, Dr. Gremillion says. Your shoes should be rigid, but still flexible enough to bend with your foot when you’re walking or running—that’ll give you a nice balance of stability and freedom of movement. Finally, cushioning can also affect a shoe’s stability, so be wary of shoes that feel too soft or cause your feet to sink, Dr. Piekarska says.
Best walking shoes for flat feet
You’ll probably need to try on a few pairs in order to determine what type of arch, flexibility, and cushioning feels best for your feet. But you can get a leg (or foot) up on your search by checking out our list of the best walking shoes for flat feet below. Our picks include expert-recommended brands like Hoka and Teva, as well as editor-approved options.
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