They say that you’ve got to own a shoe for every occasion. This is even more important if you are an athlete in training or someone who just loves spending time in the gym. Wearing the right kind of footwear during training for sports or during exercises can enhance your performance while keeping you safe. However, not all feet are similar. A lot of people in the world have flat feet, where the arch isn’t curved at all. In this article, we take a closer look at some of the best cross-training shoes for flat feet.
From Alan Webb to Said Aouita, there are many successful athletes all over the world who have flat feet but have been very successful at their sport. In the past, there used to be this misconception that athletes with flat feet cannot perhaps perform at the same level as athletes with regular arched feet. However, all of those myths have now been debunked, and specialized training gear has been created that suits the need of flat-footed athletes.
Flat feet are basically overpronated feet and this is nothing uncommon.
Roughly 20 to 30% of the world’s population has flat feet. Sometimes it can happen in both your feet and sometimes just one foot. A lot of people (who aren’t athletes or are into gymming/working out) don’t really realize that they have flat feet and that they need specialized shoes.
In this article, we first discuss what flat feet are and what are some of the most common problems that people with flat feet tend to face. After that, we move on to understanding what cross-training shoes are, and what is so special about shoes that are specifically made for people with flat feet. We also have a buyer’s guide to these shoes, answers to various FAQs, and much more.
What Are Flat Feet?
In the simplest of words, having flat feet is a condition where your feet are not arched. A majority of human feet have a small arch in the center, between the toes and the heel. However, people who have flat feet do not have this arch, which causes the entire sole of the feet to touch the floor when they are standing up.
This is a very common condition that affects between 20 to 30% of the world’s population. People who have flat feet do not generally experience any pain due to it. This is usually something that is formed at birth – but then there are some cases where a flat foot develops due to an injury.
There are no ‘symptoms’ of flat feet as such and the only visible sign is that your entire sole is touching the floor when you are standing erect. A flat foot does not require any medical attention unless there’s pain. Some people with flat feet report pain in the toes or the heels region after a long period of strenuous exercise.
Best Cross Training Shoes for Flat Feet
Flexible Flat Feet vs Rigid Flat Feet
When it comes to having flat feet, there are actually two different kinds of flat feet. Rigid and Flexible: here’s a closer look and the difference between the two.
Rigid Flat Feet
These are the kind of flat-footed people who experience flat feet at all times. Their arches are always dropped and they have a permanent flat foot.
Flexible Flat Feet
People with flexible flat feet, on the other hand, have arched feet when they are in a resting position, but the moment they stand up, or apply weight on the feet, the arches collapse and they become flat-footed.
What Are Cross-Training Shoes?
There are different shoes for different purposes. Some are specifically designed for walking, there are others designed for running, some for lifting weights, etc. Cross-Training shoes are hybrid shoes, which pick up the best features from all these shoes and create a product that is good for all general physical activity but not specialized for any of them.
These shoes can be worn for long walks, for running, and even for gymming and lifting weights. Some special kinds of cross-training shoes have been designed to help people with flat feet arch their feet. A cross-training shoe isn’t really confined to one activity but can be used for multiple activities where your feet are involved.
These shoes generally feature a high-quality heel and toe support, a comfortable insole, and very firm stability. The stability aspect of these shoes is what attracts a large number of people with flat feet towards them.
So what are cross training shoes?
Cross trainers are casual athletic shoes that can be worn around by athletes or by people who enjoy working out for long periods. These are also more durable than regular sports-oriented shoes. Cross trainers are also good for people who want to dance or perform aerobic exercises.
Some good examples of classic cross-training shoes from top brands are
Basically, a cross-training shoe gives you an all-around package for various different athletic activities. Let us now focus on the topic at hand and talk about some of the best cross trainers for flat feet. These shoes are of great help to people who are flat-footed, let us take a closer look at what makes these shoes so special:
What’s Special About Cross-Training Shoes for Flat Feet?
A naturally arching foot makes it easy for you to perform physically strenuous tasks without damaging your foot. Arches provide the kind of springboard movement that you need when you are walking or running. Without this arch, performing intense physical tasks involving the feet for a long period of time can risk an injury of the tendon.
Cross trainers help you get that artificial arch in your foot while you are working out. These shoes provide you with an adequate amount of arch support, as well as additional rest to your heels so that your feet are not overpronated.
Overpronated feet are at a major risk of getting hurt or injured.
If your feet are comfortably placed in your shoe, thanks to the added arch support that a cross-training shoe has, it helps you balance out the problems caused by the flat foot.
Cross-training shoes for flat feet generally feature a well-built arch support system that allows your feet to curve naturally and gently. Shoes such as New Balance Men's M1260v6 Running Shoe help people with a flat foot run with the same ease as someone with arched feet does.
Not only do these shoes provide your feet with arch supports, but they also improve your stability and balance. Furthermore, there are some shoes which specialize in ‘motor control’ where your feet will not move inside the shoes as much and would be comfortably gripped in them, providing you even more stable motion while walking or running, reducing the chances of an injury, or of slipping and falling.
An Ultimate Buyer’s Guide to Best Cross Training Shoes for Flat Feet
Let us now take a closer look at a buyer’s guide which will help you choose the best cross-training shoes for flat feet. You can use this section as a checklist of sorts when you are buying shoes so that you know the exact features that your shoes MUST have.
Know the Kind of Flat Foot You Have
You need to know if you have a flexible flat foot, or if it is a rigid flat foot. In the case of the former, you can correct it by using stability shoes, which provide arch support which isn’t too hard and sort of flattens on its own when the foot is resting. If you have a rigid flat foot, however, you will need to use motion control shoes, which are cross-training shoes for flat feet but feature a sturdier arch support system that can help you reduce pain and pressure on your knees as well.
Get the Right Size of the Cross Training Shoes
Now, this holds true for all shoes, but this is even more important if you are looking for the best cross-training shoes for flat feet. If your shoes are not of the right size and are a size smaller or a size larger, the arch support won’t fit where it ideally should and you will end up getting a very uncomfortable walking and running experience which is counterproductive and undesirable. Sometimes you need gender-specific shoes as well. For women, we suggest checking out the New Balance Womens 608 V5 Casual Comfort Cross Trainer.
This is the most important part when it comes to cross-training shoes for people with flat feet. Your shoes need to have decent arch support, which arches your feet but does not hyperextend the arch so much that it becomes uncomfortable. The height of the arch should be just right – the arch should be able to provide your feet the kind of natural lift that a regular arched foot gets on a floor. Anything more than that would be counterproductive.
Heel and Toe Support of Cross Training Shoes
Heel and toe support are very important for flat-footed people. Your cross-training shoes need to provide a cushioned heel and a wide toe box. This is because when you are flat-footed, your heel and toes overcompensate for the lack of an arch and that is where most of the pressure goes while walking. The right kind of cross-training shoe will provide additional comfort and support to your heels and toes. Reebok Men's Nano X Cross Trainer provides just the right kind of comfort in your heels and toes!
Straight-Lasted Cross Training Shoes
Not many people appreciate a shoe last. Flat-footed runners should avoid getting shoes with a curved last. A cross-training shoe with a flat mold provides a more natural and sure-footed grip to people with flat feet.
Stability and Grip of Cross Training Shoes
A good cross-training shoe also needs to be one that provides a very stable footing to the wearer. Stability Shoes and Motion Control shoes are two of the best types of footwear that can benefit people with flat feet.
Besides that, the chosen cross-training shoe also needs to have a sturdy grip and traction so that the wearer can walk and run without the constant fear of slipping and falling. For flat-footed people, sure-footedness is a very important aspect to have in a shoe.
Sole Quality of Cross Training Shoes
When we talk of sole quality, we mean all three – the insole, midsole, and outsole need to be top-quality. Insoles protect your feet by ensuring they are getting an appropriate amount of padding and aren’t directly coming in contact with the hardness of the surface underneath. ASICS Men's Gel-Craze TR 4 Cross-Trainer Shoe comes with just the perfect kind of gel-based cushioning system that gives you a very soft and comfortable support system for flat feet.
Midsoles provide the right kind of shock absorption layer and are a protective layer that ensures that even if the outsoles encounter a rough surface, the feet don’t feel a jerk.
Outsoles need to be tough enough to last you a long time without holes forming on them. Typically a good outsole will easily last you about 500 miles.
A good cross-training shoe also needs to be breathable and airy enough so that the feet get some air and don’t stink up. Air circulation also ensures your feet don’t get tired as easily as they would otherwise do.
Weight of the Cross Training Shoes
The shoe needs to be light in weight, as a heavy shoe isn’t really suited for running or sports because it will add on to your weight and it would take you longer to take steps than wearing a lightweight shoe. However, the weight shouldn’t be so light that it compromises the stability of the shoe.
Durability of the Cross Training Shoes
We don’t even need to point this out, but a good cross-training shoe MUST be durable. Given how expensive shoes are getting these days, it will be a total bummer if your shoes wear out in just a few hundred miles. Aim for getting shoes that can last you for about 300-400 miles without any problems or replacements. Also, ensure that the insoles in your shoes are replaceable. Shoes such as Nike Mens Air Monarch Iv (4e) Cross Trainer, which are made out of leather can last you a really long time and are very tough and durable.
Design of Cross Training Shoes
A shoe is more than just footwear. While your cross-training shoes are helping you get an artificial arch on your flat foot, people also wear shoes that are a projection of their self-expression. A good pair of cross-trainers also need to be good-looking. Nobody wants to hang out in ugly shoes! This is something that can be overlooked if correcting flat feet is your only goal. However, if you can find something that looks good, even better!
If you are looking for a pair of good-looking cross trainers, check out the Nike Reax 8 TR Men's Cross-Trainers.
Price of Cross Training Shoes
Last but not least, always make sure that you are setting up a budget before you head out to buy shoes. Otherwise, you might end up shelling hundreds of dollars on shoes! If you are ordering online, check if there’s a delivery charge associated with the shoes.
What are the Disadvantages of Having Flat Feet?
Having a flat foot isn’t a disability as it is just common human variation and billions of people all over the world have it. In fact, almost one out of every four people in the world is likely to be flat-footed. Athletes who are flat-footed have excelled at their sport and have shown the world that this is, after all, not a drawback.
However, it is true that people with flat feet do tend to face some disadvantages compared to people who have arched feet. Let us take a closer look at some of these disadvantages.
Reduced Shock Absorption
Having a naturally curved arch in your feet provides additional shock absorption support. When you are flat-footed, this advantage is taken away and hence you end up putting more stress on your toes and your heels instead of the arches.
Hinders Natural Movement
A flat-footed person will face difficulty with natural movement compared to a person with arched feet. This is because when you have flat feet, you tend to overpronate your toes and your heel, which can be painful as well as restricting when it comes to natural movement. This is why people prefer wearing cross-training shoes for flat feet so that the artificial arch support can help them walk better.
Problem Picking Pace
Given that an arch basically acts as a springboard that helps you pick a natural pace and accelerate your speed while running, people with flat feet face this is a natural disadvantage because they hit their entire foot on the ground while running and have to depend more on the toes and the heels because there is no arch.
Pain on Prolonged Exercise
People with a flat foot condition generally tend to feel more pain while working out compared to people who have natural arches. Shoes such as Reebok Men's Flashfilm Train 2.0 Cross Trainer help you adjust the arch of your flat feet in a way that will help you reduce your pain.
Risk of Injury
Going through a list of these problems is the best way to stress how important it is for flat-footed people to wear cross trainers with good arch support. This will eliminate all the disadvantages that you face and will bring everyone to par.
Tips for People with Flat Feet
People with flat feet just got unlucky in the genetic lottery. However, if you wear the correct kind of cross trainers with proper arch support, there’s nothing to worry about! Here are some tips that people with flat feet should keep in mind when it comes to taking care of the health of their feet:
Keep Replacing Your Cross Training Shoes Frequently
It is best advised to replace your shoes every 500 to 700 miles, but if you have flat feet, we suggest you start considering that at about 350 miles to 500 miles because the more your cross-training shoes wear out, the harder it will become for you to correct your feet using them. You need to take special care of your midsole too, and the moment it starts to go bad, it is time for you to discard your shoes and get a new pair.
Stretching and Strengthening Feet
There are a number of feet-strengthening exercises that you need to try out if you have flat feet. These include rolling a ball with the soles of your feet, exercising your toes by lifting them once and then the other four toes at once, rounds of 10 on both feet. You can also try some stretches of the heel, by getting up in a tip-toe-like fashion and then putting them to rest. These are a good way to exercise your arches.
Be Aware of Pain
This is critical. If you are flat-footed and if you are experiencing pain in your feet, take a rest! Do NOT overpronate your feet by running even more or exercising your feet more than you should. Let the feet rest and heal, and once the pain is relieved, you can go back to the exercise you were doing.
Why Do Flat Feet Happen?
There are a number of reasons why someone can have flat feet. One thing that we need to understand is that these are neither a disability nor an abnormality, but just a simple variation – some people have arched feet while others have flat feet. Here are some of the reasons why flat feet happen:
Develops at Childhood
A flat foot develops at birth. When children are born, almost all of them have a flat foot, but arches are developed with time. However, these arches do not develop in all children and hence some people grow up with a flat foot.
If one or both of your parents have flat feet, or their parents have them, there’s a chance it gets passed on to you in the genetic code. Genetics plays an important role in people being flat-footed.
Another very common reason behind people being flat-footed is Arthritis. People who may not be born with a flat foot can develop one due to arthritis or Rheumatoid arthritis. This can even lead to a condition where you have only one flat foot and the other one is arched.
Injury to your foot, particularly in the posterior tibial tendon can lead to the arches of your feet collapsing and developing a flat foot. In this case, too, there’s a chance that you get flat foot only on one foot.
This is a condition where all the bones of your feet fuse together. This is something that is usually diagnosed and treated at birth and can cause your feet to get stiff and flat and can restrict your movement in many ways.
Wear and Tear
Lastly, age-related wear and tear is among one of the most common reasons why people develop a flat foot. With time and with age, as your muscles weaken, the arch support also starts to slow down and you will notice a lot of older people have flat feet.
Can Flat Feet be Corrected?
Flat feet are not a deformity but something that you have received via the genetic lottery. Unless you have developed them due to an injury or a health condition, it is unlikely to get them reversed. However, there are some means to ‘correct’ these feet and get artificial arched support.
By Losing Weight
Sometimes, overweight people tend to develop flat feet even if they aren’t naturally born with that. This is because of a lack of exercise and also because all the weight pushes the sole into the ground. Sometimes the presence of fat can also cause the arch to fill up. Losing some weight is likely to correct your flat feet if you didn’t have them in the past.
There are a number of foot exercises that can help you strengthen your arches if you are someone who has a flexible flat foot. The right kind of stretching, therapy and physical training can help improve the arch though it is unlikely to permanently reverse it.
Cross Training Shoes with Arch Support
This is the best way to deal with a flat foot. Get specialized shoes for flat feet, which come with arch support. These are cross-training shoes that ensure that your feet are arched, thanks largely to the build of the shoe. These cross-training shoes for flat feet provide you with an extra support system which makes it easier for your feet to arch at the right place. However, it gets reversed the moment you take off the shoes.
If you have developed flat feet due to an injury or due to arthritis, there are a number of ways in which you can treat them. Surgeries such as a tendon transfer process can help reverse the damage, but only in the early stages of the injury. For those with arthritis, getting fusion surgery done might do the trick.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Cross Training Shoes for Flat Feet
We get a large number of questions from people planning on buying a set of cross-trainer shoes but have questions related to flat feet. If you, too, are planning on buying these kinds of shoes and have some questions in mind, do go through this list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to get a better idea:
How Do I Know if I Have a Flat Foot?
If you have a flat foot, you would know it by just looking at it. Chances are that if you are hanging out barefoot with your friends who have arched feet, they are going to point it out to you anyway. Nonetheless, people with flat feet can know that they have a flat foot by observing their feet when they are standing. If the entire sole touches the ground, you have flat feet. If there is an arch visible, you have arched feet.
Can I run with Flat Feet?
Yes, you can run with flat feet and it poses no major difficulty in the initial run. However, when you are running, the arch of your feet gives you a natural springboard-like movement that helps you accelerate and which also helps you take off some pressure from the toes and the heel. When you are flat-footed, however, you lose this advantage. A short run might not feel difficult or different at all, but it is when you have to go a longer distance than you might face some problems. Wearing a good set of cross trainer shoes can fix this by providing you artificial arch support.
What are Stability Shoes?
These are lightweight cross-trainer shoes that are great for people with flat feet when they want to run. These shoes are designed to provide more stability to the feet and come with collapsable arches which form and deflate based on the movement of your feet. These shoes generally feature dual-density foam and are more ‘breathable’ than regular shoes. Basically, a stability shoe is a very good option when it comes to cross-training shoes for running.
What are Cross Training Shoes Good For?
Cross-training shoes are multipurpose shoes that can be worn by people who aren’t focusing on one specific physical activity but are into different kinds of activities. These include running, playing sports, gymming, aerobics, walking, etc. Cross trainer shoes fit all purposes and can provide a comfortable shelter for your feet for moderate to intense physical activities.
Where to Buy Cross Training Shoes for Flat Feet?
You can walk into any sportswear shop or a shoe store nearby and you will find a collection of cross-training shoes there. However, Amazon is perhaps the best portal to get these specific shoes as they are delivered to you right to your doorstep and you find a much larger collection along with reviews from thousands of users. One of our favorites are the NOBULL shoes, go check out the article about NOBULL cross-training shoes.
We hope that by the time you reach this section, you are well aware of what wonders a pair of good cross-trainer shoes can do for those who have flat feet, and how to choose the best cross-training shoes for flat feet. One must know that a flat foot is not an abnormality and it is not something that should discourage you from your athletic or sporting goals. You just need the right kind of cross trainers with the right arch support to help you perform better. If there are any more questions or doubts that you have, feel free to let us know in the comments below and we shall get back to you as soon as we can!