There are two things in life you should never be cheap with.
Shoes and mattresses.
You spend far too much time using them and the consequences of having poor shoes and an uncomfortable mattress are simply too significant to justify saving a few bucks.
Today I am here to talk about shoes.
Specifically, shoes for people with flat feet who need the best cross training shoes for flat feet.
I plan to discuss what flat feet are, exactly, and offer both the traditional and “new school” ideas about how to deal with flat feet.
I will also discuss some exercises and stretches you can do to alleviate flat feet and finish with my reviews of the 13 best shoes for flat feet.
- What are Flat feet, Exactly?
- What is the Purpose of the Arch in Our Foot?
- Will Orthotics or Shoes with Arch Support Alleviate My Pain from Flat Feet?
- Stretching and Relief for Flat Feet
- What to Look for in a Shoe if You have Flat Feet
- Top 13 Best Cross Training Shoes for Flat Feet 2021
- Reebok Crossfit Nano 8.0 Flexweave Cross Trainer
- New Balance Men's Vazee Prism v2
- Merrell Men's Vapor Glove 3 Trail Runner
- Inov-8 Women's F-Lite 235 V2 Cross-Trainer Shoe
- Vibram Men's KSO Evo Cross Training Shoe
- Vibram Women's KSO Evo Cross Training Shoe
- Merrell Women's Vapor Glove 2
- Converse Chuck Taylor High Top
- Reebok Women's Crossfit Nano 6-0 Cross-Trainer Shoe
- Inov-8 Men's F-Lite 235-M
- Xero Shoes Prio Men’s Minimalist Barefoot Shoe
- NIKE Men's Lunarglide 7 Running Shoe
- New Balance Women's Vazee Prism Mild Stability
What are Flat feet, Exactly?
The medical term for “true” flat feet is Pes Planus. This condition is where the bones have joined together causing flat feet.
This can not be fixed with exercise nor orthotics.
True flat feet are actually quite rare and this is not the type of flat feet I am here to talk about today.
What I am here to discuss is what you might call “flexible” flat feet.
Want to know if you have flexible flat feet.
Stand on the balls of your feet, kind of like a calf raise. Look at your feet. Do you see an arch form? If so, you have flexible flat feet.
Some experts say that the term flat foot is actually a misnomer, and the problem really is pronating ankles.
Pronation on the ankle means an inward movement or roll of the ankle, which throws the alignment of the leg off, all the way to the hip.
Notice many people with “flat feet” have collapsed arches, and “knock knees” (knees that move inward and come together) and the aches and pains that come with the misalignment.
What is the Purpose of the Arch in Our Foot?
Without getting too technical, there are actually 4 arches in the bottom of the foot, but for simplicity, let’s call it the arch.
The arch is our bodies natural shock absorber.
They capture energy from your body weight and return it, during movements like running. These shock absorbers also lighten the wear and tear on our bodies from walking, jogging and running.
Will Orthotics or Shoes with Arch Support Alleviate My Pain from Flat Feet?
The old school of thought is this:
This seems intuitive, and there is a reason behind it. The pain is caused by the misalignment due to the arch being flat instead of curved.
Orthotics can be useful to alleviate pain, but they do not fix the problem.
So, just what is the problem? What causes flat arches?
I said earlier that pronating ankles are what is behind flat arches, so what causes that?
I realize this may sound counterintuitive, but…
Would you believe that some experts say that arch support and lack of use of the muscles that create the arch are the cause of the problem?
The idea is that if you support the arch, and do not use the muscles that create the arch shape in the first place, those muscles will waste, and you are left with a foot with no arch.
So the solution you have been using may be the cause of the problem in the first place.
In addition to that…
Many with so called flat feet are turning to minimalist style or barefoot style shoes to find relief.
Although these style shoes may seem like the opposite of what a podiatrist would recommend as they have NO arch support, are flat, have thin soles and wide toe boxes, many sufferers of flat feet say they have found relief.
That is not to say that insoles have no value. It is advisable if you are going to try a minimalist or barefoot style shoe you work up to using them more and more, while still using an insert sometimes.
Do not jump into using a barefoot style shoe 100% of the time if you have not used one before.
Split your time between a barefoot style and using a shoe with a traditional insert or insole like Superfeet Black Premium Insoles (link to Amazon.com) and gradually cut back on the time you use the insoles.
Don’t push your feet too much. If you experience pain, scale back and use the insoles a little more.
Stretching and Relief for Flat Feet
Looking for relief and possibly a way to fix “flat feet”?
This Dr. who has flat arches himself will walk you through some stretches you can do to alleviate pain and stretch those arches in his video.
Sometimes flat feet are caused by squeezing the feet into shoes with a narrow toe box, as nearly all dress shoes for me and women do.
Unnaturally squishing the toes together causes bunions and prevent a proper arch from forming. Correctors or YogaToes fix this issue by spacing the toes out so they are aligned properly, in a more natural position.
If you wear them for a while they train your toes to stay in the more naturally spaced position, and can alleviate problems caused by flat feet.
Another excellent exercise video and explanation of the true nature of “flat feet” is this video called the Anti-Pronation exercise for “flat feet”.
In it, the instructor demonstrates a simple exercise and explains the mechanics behind so called “flat feet”. I highly recommend watching this one!
What to Look for in a Shoe if You have Flat Feet
Try a Barefoot or minimalist style shoe
If you have flat feet, it is also likely that you have pronating ankles or ankles that fall inward somewhat.
This causes alignment issues fro your toes all the way to your hips.
Barefoot style shoes force your feet to strengthen the muscles that create the arch shape. If you use shoes that do the work those muscles should be doing, those muscles get or stay, weak.
Standard, more supportive shoes with smaller toe boxes can throw the toe and foot bones out of alignment so they are not in the ideal position to create the arch shape your body needs to absorb shock.
Barefoot shoes allow your tootsies to lay in a natural formation so a proper arch can form.
Barefoot shoes also have a natural, or 0 drop angle. (more on that in a minute.)
What is Stack height and why should I care?
Stack height is simply the measurement of how much material is between the sole of your foot and the ground.
A short stack height places you closer to the ground and you are therefore more stable.
Why this matters:
Stability is important if your gym or workout routine involved standing lifts. Stability may also be a factor while running or performing lateral moves. A shorter stack height lessens the chance of rolling ankles too.
What is this “Drop” Business and what’s it got to do with my arch, or lack thereof?
The “drop” of a shoe is the difference in height from the heel of the shoe, to the front. Think of high heels as having a HUGE drop. The heel is way higher than the toe height.
For athletic shoes, the drop can be anywhere from 10 mm (that’s 1 cm for those counting) to 0 mm. 0 mm is also known as a “0 drop”.
What does the drop “do”?
In theory, a larger drop would move you forward, since the heel is higher than the toe and tips you forward a bit and help you run faster.
With this theory you would think running in high heels would make you faster than speedy Gonzales. But as I have some experience with high heels I will tell you, you ain’t going NOWHERE fast with high heels on.
Anyways, I am not here to argue the biomechanics of the drop, or if it benefits performance, but what I will say is that some think 0 drop shoes are best for those with the “flat foot” problem.
Any height drop will put your feet, ankles and leg muscles in an unnatural position, hindering arch formation. We were born with feet that have a 0 drop, and barefoot shoes honor that position.
I have rounded up 13 of my favorite shoes you can use for cross training if you suffer from flat feet. To be fair, some are barefoot or minimalist style, some have just a wee bit of arch support, and a few have full on arch support.
As I said before, I am not saying to drop arch support cold turkey and commit to barefoot shoes full time in one fell swoop.
But I am a believer in the barefoot style and think they are among the best fitness shoes for flat feet, so there are several to choose from in the list below.
Top 13 Best Cross Training Shoes for Flat Feet 2021
What do you think are the best cross training shoes for flat feet? Are you more traditional and want to support the arches in your flat feet, or have you tried out the barefoot style?
I am curious to know what your experience was like.
Drop me a line in the comments below-I read each one!