Having flat feet doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t run. The real question here is how to run with flat feet properly. The problem is that you are more prone to injury than if you have normal arches. To find out whether you classify as a person with flat feet, the easiest way is to take the “wet test”. Make a foot imprint of your wet foot. If the imprint is of a complete foot, then chances are you have flat feet.
Disadvantages of flat feet
Having flat feet usually leads to overpronation – the foot strikes more on the outside of the heel and tends to roll inward extremely. This improper strike is the reason why people and especially runners with low arches are prone to overuse injuries and pain, if they are not wearing proper running shoes, inserts or orthotics which help correct the overpronation and the lack of support of the feet. But are the flat feet bad?
Thankfully, having completely fallen arches is quite rare. More often, runners who think they have flat feet actually have low arches. This is quite common. According to some podiatrists every third person has similar issue.
Plus, this condition could be better than having high arches, because the shock absorption of the feet is better, and the feet are more flexible, while with high arches the feet are more rigid, which can cause pulls and strains of the foot and leg muscles when running. Also, high arches do not provide sufficient shock absorption when running.
Running with flat feet technique and precautions
Thankfully, there is a suitable technique for running with flat feet. But even so, runners with low arches need to take the necessary precautions to keep the feet from overpronating because it could lead to shin splints, and soreness and injuries in the knees, ankles, the legs as well as the lower back.
The precautions include buying appropriate running shoes for flat feet. These sneakers need to be of the motion stability type, with firm midsoles, and with medial posts to keep the feet from pronating. Runners with this issue shouldn’t wear trainers with too much cushioning and will little support, because this will encourage the pronation.
Also, you should avoid running on uneven surfaces, which will heighten the pronation and increase the soreness and risk of injuries. Try to find even surfaces to do your running – this will help reduce the overpronation.
You can also consult with a podiatrist about getting customized orthotics, or the cheaper version – inserts which provide the necessary arch support to the fallen arches and keep the feet aligned.
Also, there are some simple exercises which you can do to rebuild your arches. Sit on a chair and place your bare feet on the floor on a towel and curl your toes to get a ridge of the towel under your toes. Grab the towel with your toes and pull it towards you. Repeat this 10 times, and then reverse the motion by grabbing the ridges of the towel, and pushing your curled up feet away from you – repeat 10 times too.
There are ways to correct the overpronation and the problems when running with flat feet, so don’t lose hope of becoming a good runner only because you happen to have low arches. Everything can be resolved with a suitable pair of running shoes, orthotics, insoles, and choosing the proper terrains for running.