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Shopping for shoes is a bit like finding the right skin care products for your unique complexion. Since no two feet are created equally, certain shoe styles work better depending on your foot care needs, and flat feet are no exception.
In an effort to discover what unique challenges flat feet can pose, Shop TODAY recently consulted two podiatrists to gain their insight on how to nip them in the bud with the right footwear. We also took their guidance and rounded up 13 pairs of supportive, stylish shoes you'll be thrilled to add to your collection.
What are some of the issues flat feet can create?
Having flat feet isn't an issue in and of itself, but it does make you more prone to certain feet woes.
"Flat feet can cause heel and arch pain (plantar fasciitis) and pain to the joints in the midfoot and the ligaments/tendons around the ankle," Dr. Ashley Lee, a foot and ankle reconstructive surgeon at Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists, told us.
When you have flat feet, they don't absorb shock properly, and this means your feet aren't as protected as they could be.
"Flat feet can oftentimes experience foot pain due to increased foot fatigue and compensation patterns. Common issues include posterior tibial tendinitis, knee pain, bunions and low back pain," podiatrist and movement specialist Dr. Emily Splichal said.
How to shop for shoes for flat feet
When you're shopping for shoes for flat feet, the name of the game is support.
"Flat feet that are also associated with ligament laxity and muscle weakness may benefit from shoes with built-in arch support and more structure. Features of supportive footwear includes heel toe drop, stiff midsole, heel counters and arch support insoles," Splichal said.
In general, sneakers are ideal for flat feet, whether you're heading to the gym or chilling out at home.
"The best shoe for flat feet is a supportive stability or cushioned gym shoe, when possible. I also encourage people with severe or symptomatic flat feet to wear this type of shoe in the house as well," Lee explained.
Just because you have flat feet doesn't mean you have to wear sneakers all the time, though. Lee told us that low-heeled wedges are another practical option.
"Wedges are a much better choice over true heels because wedges help to distribute weight evenly across the bottom of the foot as opposed to the 'tripod' distribution a heel offers (heel and both sides of the ball of the feet)," she revealed.
While these two shoe types are most suitable for flat feet, that doesn't mean you have to ditch your other favorite kicks. According to Splichal, a quality insole can also help make traditionally non-supportive shoes feel a lot more comfortable for flat feet.
"Insoles that are designed to either support or strengthen feet can be beneficial. Insoles with built up arch support can take pressure off the muscles of the foot and plantar fascia. Insoles that strengthen the feet include sensory stimulation to help the muscles of the feet contract and become stronger," she said.
Shoes for women with flat feet to shop
Talk about the best of both worlds! This fashion-forward style from Dr. Scholl's combines the comfort of a sneaker with the sleek appeal of a wedge and it comes in several neutral colors that go with everything. Notable features include a cushioned footbed, flexible sole and padded collar. Fun fact: The fabric lining is also made of recycled bottles!
Craving the look of luxury for less? A New Day's Esperanza Wedge Heels offer style in spades. The sleek shoe has a solid 2.25" heel and two straps that hold feet securely in place, and the slip-on design is ideal for busy ladies who don't have time to waste while getting dressed.
Meow! Ryka infused just the right amount of flair into these animal print sneaker boots. The slip-on style has a cushioned heel cup, comfortable insole and a wedge heel that gives you the height you need without making your tootsies tired.
Looking for a shoe you can take from the office to date night? Consider your search complete. Nine West's crocodile print wedges have a solid 3.25" heel that helps elevate flat feet, and a stylish pointy toe. Plus, the price is certainly right.
Sporty with a touch of sass, just the way we like our shoes to be. Cobb Hill balanced this supportive style with plenty of visually appealing features, including sleek perforations and mixed materials. The cushioned sole, midsole cushioning and removable insole with arch support also help ensure that your tootsies are happy while you walk around in these cool kicks.
It might still be chilly outside, but this sassy sandal has us dreaming of warmer, sunnier days. The slip-on slingback style has comfortable cloud technology and a cushioned footbed that hugs feet in the best possible way. Other cool features that set it apart from the pack include odor control technology and air infused outsoles. Did we mention that the shoe is machine washable, too?!
Sneakers should make you feel like you're floating on air, and this Reebok pair has responsive Floatride Energy Foam to help cushion your feet as you go about your day. The style works equally well for running and running errands and has breathable fabric to keep your feet nice and cool.
The term "supportive shoes" often gets equated with clunky, heavy sneakers, but this lightweight pair from Sorel puts that misconception to rest with its breathable design and sleek silhouette. The chic style features a removable molded footbed for extra support and a cushioned midsole. Plus, the color options are making us get super excited for spring!
Building an all-weather shoe collection that will support your flat feet is key, and we're currently crushing on these winter-ready booties. The lace-up hiker boot has a walkable 1.5" wedge heel, arch support with memory foam and a flexible outsole. The water-repellent style will also keep you nice and toasty with its warm lining!
Ballet flats aren't the most practical option for flat feet, but they don't have to be off limits. This Vionic pair has three zones of comfort to make sure your feet get the support they need, including an orthotic footbed, a deep heel cup and plenty of arch support. The flat has the APMA Seal of Acceptance and it's also caught our eyes with its chic leather uppers and laser-cut perforated details.
Spring is right around the corner and if you're ready to step into style once the warmer weather arrives, this breezy espadrille wedge is a comfortable option that's worth considering. The practical wedge style offers just the right amount of lift for flat feet and the shock-absorbing insole and traction sole keep feet safe.
You'll want to walk for miles and miles when you step foot into these hardworking walking shoes. The supportive style has all the features you need with flat feet, including a footbed with extra arch support and shock absorption, and space for a custom orthotic. It's also ideal for anyone with an active lifestyle since it's made with waterproof materials and has built-in odor control.
Stay comfy while you're stomping through the snow with this practical snow bootie that has plenty of panache. The 1" wedge heel offers nice lift to help you dodge puddles and snow banks and the memory foam insole helps absorb all your moments. There's also a warm fleece lining!
For more stories like this, check out:
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- Why are New Balance shoes so popular? We spoke to 2 experts to find out
- Cole Haan launched a sustainable shoe — and you'll never guess what it's made of