An estimated 20 to 30 percent of the population has flat feet, a condition that occurs when the arches flatten, allowing the soles of the feet to completely touch the floor while standing. Many issues can cause the condition. For some people, it's hereditary. Others develop flat feet because of pregnancy, aging, obesity, or a health condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Whether or not your flat feet cause you pain, wearing the right shoe is vital. Slipping your feet into the wrong pair can lead to ankle, knee, hip, back, shoulder and even neck problems. And not to mention, the right shoe will provide a comfortable haven for tired, achy, and swollen feet.
The toe box should provide ample room, and the shank, or middle part of the shoe, should be somewhat flexible—not too rigid, but not too flimsy. Sound like a tall order. It is—but we’ve got you covered. From flats and sandals to boots and sneakers, here are eight pairs of shoes that fit the bill and will help keep you pain-free.
Naturalizer Clarissa Flats
When feet flatten, they tend to get longer and wider, so in addition to possibly needing a shoe that is longer in length, you also need to consider width when you’re purchasing shoes. This loafer-like flat has a round toe box to give your piggies lots of room. And it’s available in narrow, medium, wide, and double wide widths, to accommodate feet of all sizes. Plus, this flat has a cushioned footbed and a sturdy, arch-supporting insole.
Vionic Kirra Backstrap Sandal
This wear-everywhere sandal is perfect for keeping flat feet cool in the warmer months. It has Vionic’s Orthaheel Technology, which is designed to hug and support your arches. The EVA footbed absorbs shock, helping to reduce stress on your feet, ankles, and knees, and the ankle strap adds stability while allowing you to adjust the fit. Another perk: The Kirra is available in medium and wide widths, which is ideal for flat feet which tend to become wider as the arches collapse.
Having flat feet doesn’t mean you can no longer rock heels. You just need to retire your sky-high pumps. “No higher than 2 ½ inches is recommended.” The Penelope is a basic pump with lots of comfort features. It has a 2 ¼–inch heel, so it’s not too high, and it has an anti-impact layer in the footbed for a well-cushioned ride. Plus, the upper part is leather, which allows the shoe to stretch to accommodate your feet as they swell throughout the day. This pump comes in narrow, medium and wide widths and is available in leather and suede, so you can pick up a few pairs to accommodate all of your style needs
Having flat feet doesn’t mean you can no longer rock heels. You just need to retire your sky-high pumps. “No higher than 2 ½ inches is recommended.” The Penelope is a basic pump with lots of comfort features. It has a 2 ¼–inch heel, so it’s not too high, and it has an anti-impact layer in the footbed for a well-cushioned ride. Plus, the upper part is leather, which allows the shoe to stretch to accommodate your feet as they swell throughout the day. This pump comes in narrow, medium and wide widths and is available in leather and suede, so you can pick up a few pairs to accommodate all of your style needs.
Rockport Cobb Hill Natashya Bootie
The same heel height applies to boots: Stick to styles that are 2 ½ inches or lower. This chic bootie—which comes in medium and wide widths—is right on target. It also feels as good as it looks. The Natashya has a lightweight and flexible footbed to absorb shock, while the embedded steel shank provides arch support. And the molded heel offers impact resistance and additional support. Another win for the heel is its thickness. Chunky heels provide a greater surface area to distribute your weight across, so they're more comfortable and offer extra stability.
It’s best to avoid flip flops because they don’t offer enough support. However, if you really want to give your toes some breathing room this summer, go for a pair that isn’t entirely flat. This pair has arch support, a comfy cushioned footbed, and a thick sole, so it will keep your feet pain-free. The icing on the cake. The iQUSHION comes in a variety of colors, so you can grab a pair to go with all your warm weather outfits.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18
When choosing a sneaker for flat feet, a good medial arch support and insole are very important, Nau says. The Adrenaline GTS 18 is designed for flat and low arches and has a cushioned midsole that adapts and molds to your stride over time. The shoe’s built-in Progressive Diagonal Rollbar provides added stability,helping to keep your feet from overpronating (rolling inward when you walk), which is typical for people with flat feet.
Ballet flats are another type of shoe that doesn’t offer much support for flat feet. But if you like the style too much to give it up, try these. They have a 1 ¼-inch hidden wedge, so your feet aren’t completely flat on the ground. These ballet flats also feature a cushioned and flexible (but not too flexible) sole, and a contoured footbed with arch and heel support.
Vionic Gemma Slippers
Even when you’re just lounging around the house, your footwear should pamper and support your flat feet. A podiatrist designed these super soft and stylish slippers, so you know they’re feet-friendly. They have contoured arch support, a deep heel cup, and an EVA midsole to absorb shock. As with all Vionic shoes, they have Orthaheel Technology, designed to help reduce aches and pains by putting your feet in the proper alignment. A bonus: The shoes slip on easily and have a Velcro closure, so you can adjust and customize the fit. Looking for silppers to wear in the warmer months? Vionic's Indulge Relax Slipper has an orthotic footbed approved by the American Podiatric Association.