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Walking shoes for flat feet: The struggle is real. And according to the Mayo Clinic, arch support is essential for added comfort. Flat feet are not to be confused with low arches; while you should still seek out shoes with arch support, a true flat foot is when your entire foot is touching the ground. After we researched and vetted some top brands and shoes for flat feet, we’re confident that these ones will keep you feeling comfortable and cute (spoiler alert: they aren’t all athletic sneakers).
The Best Walking Shoes for Flat Feet At a Glance
Meet the Expert
Dr. Neal Blitz, DPM, FACFAS is a board certified foot and ankle surgeon and is the creator of the Bunionplasty® procedure, with practices in New York & Beverly Hills.
How We Chose the Best Walking Shoes for Flat Feet
Podiatrist recommendations, customer reviews and advice from PureWow editors helped us decide on the best walking shoes for flat feet. We paid attention to the arch support, durability and the sturdiness of the shoes.
No closet is complete without a pair of white sneakers. These have a padded arch and high arch support to offer your feet lift for when you’re walking. Reviewers mention that the heel is a little stiff and needs some breaking in, but the positives clearly outweigh the negatives.” “[They’re] super cute and comfortable shoes with soles that feel like a cloud,” says one customer. “Only qualm is that there are a couple hard parts around the ankle that need to be broken in and caused some discomfort the first time wearing.”
Athletic sneakers are always a great option for a day filled with walking, or to wear to work before switching into heels. These sneakers have a rubber wrap on the side to help increase stability during physical activity. Your feet will also be getting an arch lift because of the cushioned midsole providing extra support in the center. “They are super versatile,” raves one Nike customer. “I went from the gym to the zoo in them and they were perfect in both instances. At the gym, the shoe is stable and comfortable. At the zoo, I walked a couple miles without any pain or hot spots. Highly recommend and will be buying a second pair!”
Thanks to New Balance’s chunky look and sporty-yet-casual vibes, the brand has made a comeback recently. These sneakers have an EVA insole for comfort and support and the mesh upper offers great ventilation for breathability. “I love New Balance in general, but the Fresh Foam sneakers are just such a great everyday training shoe. They are my workhorse running sneakers,” says fashion editor Abby Hepworth. We are also obsessed with the sole because of the cool bubble design and chunkiness. “I find they run about a half size small, so you may want to go up half a size from your usual for maximum comfort,” mentions Hepworth.
For flat feet, Dr. Blitz recommends HOKA shoes. This model is available in regular and wide size options and a sturdy rubber outsole for stability. The midsole is well padded and lifted for that arch support you’ll need. “These sneakers give my bunions plenty of room to breathe while still giving a little pressure for some support,” says commerce editor Olivia Dubyak. “Plus, the sole has a great bounce, which I love for walking.”
Sneakers aren’t for everyone, and if you’re planning on doing a lot of walking, these sandals have everything you need to keep your feet comfortable and supported. “These sandals are well cushioned and attractive,” one customer says. “The velcro straps allow a perfect fit. As someone with multiple foot problems, the pure comfort and support is much appreciated. The leather upper has foam padding while the orthotic insole has an arch booster for even more support. They’re available in three colors.
If we know we’re going to be doing a lot of walking, heels are almost never our first choice. But sometimes, we need a practical yet dressy heel for an event that may require a bit of cardio to get there (we’re looking at you, city dwellers). “I wore these for a wedding over the summer and we had to park far away from the venue,” says PureWow commerce editor Olivia Dubyak. “Luckily the anatomical arch support and padded footbed made these a breeze to get to and from.” In addition to the great arch support, it also has a wider toe box (our bunions are grateful) and 6 millimeters extra of footbed padding.
If you have flat feet, not every bulky hiking shoe is going to be right for you. Because hiking shoes and boots typically have a very sturdy, non-flexible design, having enough arch support and cushion is key. These Merrell hiking shoes are a great option for long hikes because the insole is padded for arch support and it’s removable, so you can add an arch booster insert underneath if you want a little extra. “I instantly felt the support beneath my feet and there was no break-in period for these shoes,” says one Nordstrom customer.
Need lots of support? Look no futher. “I love my Ariels—they are the best shoe I’ve ever come across for the maximum support,” raves one customer. “I have plantar fasciitis and these shoes are wonderful! Brooks shoes are the only shoes I like…My podiatrist introduced them to me years ago and I have worn them since.” Plus, if you have overpronation, the sturdiness and aforementioned support will help align your feet and help avoid any injuries while walking.
We love the look of a chunky dad shoe for casual wear. But these ones aren’t just a cool design; they’re made to support and cradle your foot, even when you’re wearing them for long periods of time. The brand uses lightweight foams and gel technology inserts to support your arch, heel and ball of your foot during extended wear. Plus, customers say the shoe holds up wonderfully. “Asics knocked it out of the park with this shoe,” says one customer. “They fit and feel great on feet, perfect mix of comfort and stability so you can wear these all day no problem.”
The materials of this shoe are sustainably made and they’re available in tons of colorways. According to commerce editor Olivia Dubyak, the outsoles and mesh can be a little tough to clean, so it’s probably best to avoid hiking or nature adventures in these shoes. The midsoles are padded and cushioned making them super comfortable to walk in over long periods of time, too. “These are my favorite walking shoes when I need something super light to wear. The materials are flexible without feeling flimsy and the lightweight design makes them easy to wear all day long,” says commerce editor Olivia Dubyak
What to Look for When Buying Shoes for Flat Feet
If you have flat feet, support and a high-quality shoe are must haves, especially if you’re going to be doing a ton of walking. According to Dr. Neal Blitz, there are a few things people shopping for flat feet should keep in mind:
While Dr. Blitz likes brands like HOKA and Brooks for flat feet (“[they] generally provide most of the stability requirements for a flat foot,”) he mentions the importance of taking the qualities of each shoe into consideration before you buy.
How Can You Tell If You Have Flat Feet?
Because flat feet by a specialist, you can likely self-diagnose this. Look at the inside of your feet while standing. If your entire foot is touching the ground, your feet are flat. If you have even a slight arch or lift in the middle of your foot, you do not have flat feet. However, if your flat feet are causing you issues or pain, checking in with a doctor is always a good idea.
Do Flat Feet Need More or Less Arch Support?
Give your flat feet all the arch support. Having that extra support “can lift the arch preventing collapse while standing/walking,” Dr. Blitz tells us. If you go for a shoe that doesn’t have enough arch support, you can always add an insert to give your foot that added lift.
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