Flat feet or fallen arches are a very common condition caused by the arches of our feet collapsing, sometimes to the point where the entire sole touches the ground on which we stand. Genetics, injuries, obesity and quite simply the aging process can contribute to the development of flat feet. Plantar fasciitis often occur as a result of fallen arches. If you have recurring heel pain, especially after waking from sleep, read this post on the best shoes for plantar fasciitis.
If you have flexible flat feet, you might not even experience any pain or other symptoms. Flexible or “supple” fallen arches are only presenting as flat when you stand on a level surface, but not when you sit or stand on your tip-toes. Though this condition might not cause any pain, you should get regular orthopedic check-ups to prevent pain in your ankles, calves and knees due to misalignment.
If your flat feet are rigid, which means that your arches remain flattened in any foot position, the misalignment of your feet and lower legs can make walking and standing for longer periods quite painful. In this case, getting the best shoes for flat feet is crucial for your well-being and long-term health.
Many people with flat feet are fitted for orthopedic shoe inserts, e.g. arch supports, customized to accommodate their individual foot shape. However, since about 25% of Americans have flat feet, shoe manufacturers are offering an increasing range of comfortable shoes with built-in orthotics.
Related: The best running shoes for flat feet
How to choose the best shoes for flat feet
The first choice for many women and men with flat feet is athletic footwear. Sneakers and other types of athletic shoes are very popular, because they offer just the right kind of comfortable support. Plus, many athletic shoes have removable insoles and will accommodate your own orthotics. It is commonly assumed that flat feet cause a problem with over-pronation – rolling your feet inward while walking or running. This is true for many people, but before you buy a pair of running shoes, you should find out whether you are one of them. To get a first impression, you can look at your sneakers. If the sole appears more worn on the inside, chances are that you do over-pronate. In that case, it is important that you choose an athletic shoe with motion control, stability and arch support. Added gel pads, especially at the heels and balls of your feet provide extra comfort.
If you want to buy the best shoes for flat feet, fashion trends are probably not your primary concern. Still, few sneakers go with power suits or eveningwear, so dress shoes with adequate support for fallen arches are a must for women and men.
Let’s come right out with it: heels and little strappy kitten-heel sandals are not your friends. You need proper support in the right places, even weight distribution and most likely a shoe with a wider frame. Additionally, your dress shoes might need to accommodate your orthotics or at least supportive gel pads to prevent over-pronation. Still, comfort and style don’t have to be mutually exclusive – flats, loafers, moccasins, lace-ups, Mary-Janes and athletic sandals are all fair game for the flat-footed fashionista. The most important considerations are orthopedic insoles, extra arch support or enough room for your own inserts. Some brands specializing in orthopedic footwear, e.g. Vionic/Orthaheel and Aertrex, use their orthopedic know-how and technologies to develop a wider variety of styles for women with fallen arches.
Good to know: Straps are a great idea, especially if you wear orthotics in your shoes, because they keep your feet securely in the right position inside your shoes. Look for a cute pair of Mary-Janes!
Finding dressy shoes with support for fallen arches is somewhat easier for men, because most men’s styles lend themselves well to being adapted to accommodate flat feet. On the other hand, the selection of fashionable shoes is still a little more limited. Look for good arch support, heel padding and orthopedic or removable insoles. If you need wide shoes, make sure they are the correct width throughout, not just in the toe box.
Good to know: Quite a few athletic shoe styles come in solid black, some even in black leather without mesh or other inserts. If you don’t need your shoes to be super formal, these styles might work for you.
To start you off in your search for the best shoes for flat feet, here are some popular styles for women and men. They are all available online, and thanks to the increasing selection of quality shoes for problem feet and more information provided by the manufacturers, you can shop with confidence.
Alegria Paloma Mary-Janes
This is a fun shoe that combines support for flat feet with many stylish designs. Favorites are Black and Western Romance, a floral design in autumn colors.
Size 5 through 12, medium width.
Orthaheel Jane Mules
If mules are your go-to shoes for the summer season, Jane by Orthaheel is certainly a good choice for a supportive, stylish shoe. The shoes are available in Black, Red and Navy as well as two metallics.
Sizes 5 through 11, medium and wide.
Easy Spirit Abide 8 Loafers
Abide 8 loafers by Easy Spirit may not offer the built-in arch support that people with flat feet need, but unlike most classic loafers, you can wear them with your orthopedic insoles and still get the elegant look. They come in 25 different styles – including classic Black. The choice is yours.
Sizes 5 through 11, medium and wide.
Vionic Amber Sandals
These flat summer sandals are designed to support flat feet and correct excessive pronation. With styles like coral mock croc or brown cork with a tribal pattern, Amber by Vionic is a fashionable shoe for pain-free summer fun.
Sizes 5 through 12, medium and wide.
Vionic Eve Thong Sandals
Eve is one of the stars of Vionic’s line of supportive sandals. The design will please fashion-conscious wearers – frankly, they don’t look like podiatrist-designed shoes at all. Yet they will support your flat feet even on the most active summer days.
Sizes 5 through 11, medium and wide.
New Balance W940V2 Running Shoes
These running shoes are not just for athletes, as great cushioning is always welcome to people with fallen arches, who want to be comfortable on the go. W940 V2 running shoes by New Balance are available in one truly athletic style.
Sizes 5 through 13, narrow through extra wide.
Vionic Endurance Walking Shoes
Men sometimes have a difficult time finding the best shoes for flat feet that are supportive, but also stylish. With the Endurance walking shoes, Vionic offers both qualities – Orthaheel technology ensures the right kind of comfort in three modern designs.
Sizes 7 through 14, medium through extra wide.
Sole Sport Flip-Flops
Sole Sport flip-flops come in Black and several other colors – all made from water resistant-materials, which makes them perfect for the beach and poolside. And they are supportive enough to be worn all day.
Sizes 7 through 14, medium width.
Johnston & Murphy Melton Oxfords
For a traditional dress shoe, the Melton Oxfords by Johnston & Murphy offer more comfort and support than many other brands. They accommodate orthopedic insoles and come in three classic colors – Black, Bordeaux and Tan.
Sizes 6 through 16, narrow through extra wide.
Asics Gel-Kayano 21 Running Shoes
Asics has long been a favorite of runners with fallen arches. The Gel-Kayano 21 running shoes combine stable support with good heel-to-toe transition. You have a choice of a dozen stylish sneaker designs.
Sizes 6 through 16, medium through extra wide.
Finding the best shoes for flat feet can be a challenge. You want to stay pain-free throughout your busy day, yet you are tired of the infamous “orthotics” look. Take heart, your perfect shoes are out there.
Going through the shoe reviews, you may have noticed that the recommended shoes have a somewhat higher price point. Well, cheap, one-season fashion shoes are not for you – they are not for anyone, really, but people without foot problems take longer to find that out. Make the investment in your health and quality of life and find your dream shoes that will make you forget you even have flat feet.