The best walking shoes are the ones that are, well, actually comfortable to walk in. And when you have flat feet, finding a shoe that supports your lack of arches involves looking out for a couple specific features.
Dr. Patrick McEneaney, owner and CEO of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists, shared the types of shoes to look for and the specific options he recommends to his patients.
“Make sure that you have a good kind of shoe that’s stiff in the midsole,” he said. “With a lot of shoes, if you go to bend the middle of them, they bend really easy. These are some of the ones that have the keywords like ‘flex,’ ‘free’ and ‘memory foam.’ A lot of these shoes are just really fancy bedroom slippers, in my opinion, and they don’t give you the kind of support you need.”
If you have flat feet, the entire sole of your foot touches the floor, meaning you need all the support you can get to prevent discomfort and injury. Although McEneaney said kids with flat feet typically don’t experience pain because their feet are still flexible and malleable, complications can arise for adults who don’t wear the proper shoes for their flat feet.
“With adults, we tend to start seeing joint pain more often, a lot of tendinitis, especially with a tendon called the posterior tibial tendon, which is kind of on the inside of your arch. That tendon does a lot of the work of holding up the arch,” he said. “What happens is that after all those years of trying to hold it up, the tendon just can’t do it anymore. The tendon becomes weak and, over time, it can develop scar tissue or even tearing within the tendon itself, and that can lead to to pain and problems in that area.”
When it comes to selecting shoes for your flat feet, McEneaney emphasized the importance of paying less attention to brand name and more attention to how the shoe is constructed and how supportive it is.
“The key thing is that you don’t just buy a shoe based on the brand. It’s more important to find the right model for your foot,” he said.
Check out McEneaney’s picks for the best walking shoes for flat feet below, in both men’s and women’s sizes.
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