A Quick but Helpful Guide to Running With Flat Feet

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Maybe your doctor’s told you running just isn’t in your cards. But you really don’t believe that.

You see the open road or the winding trails and your heart wants to soar. But every time you try, your feet just hurt too much.

About 20% of us have flat feet. And doctors are often too quick to dismiss us as invalids.

The truth is, you can run with flat feet. Some of the top athletes in the world have flat feet. It just takes some strength work and adaptation.

Here’s our quick guide to running with flat feet.

1. What Makes a Flat Foot?

Flat feet makes it sound like you have platypus feet. This isn’t the case.

People with flat feet have what we call “fallen arches” or pes planus. Your feet aren’t just flapping around like two sheets of paper.

We have three arches in each foot. Two on either side of the foot, the inside arch being the most prominent general, and in the very center of the foot.

These arches act as natural shock absorbers. When you run, they absorb some of the energy and then spring back, helping you move.

When the ligaments and muscles in these arches lose strength, they quit working properly. Sometimes this loss of strength is due to injury sometimes it’s hereditary.

Either way, collapsing arches aren’t how feet are supposed to work.

2. Over-Pronation:

If you’ve been in the running field for very long, you’ll have heard two terms: over-pronation and under-pronation. Often, running shoe sites will ask you about your pronation when helping you choose a shoe.

Most people with flat feet over-pronate. This means their feet and leg turns inward when they impact the ground.

If your quads and posterior tibialis aren’t strong enough, you could cause a number of injuries after a time. Ignoring over-pronation could eventually end a running career.

3. Do I Need Arch Support for Flat Feet?

The answer to this question is case-based. It probably wouldn’t hurt to support the arches in your flat feet. Especially if you’re running long miles like a marathoner or ultramarathoner, your feet will get tired and you’ll want that extra arch support.

But whether you “need” to support your arches really depends on how strong your feet and legs are. You could have a strong tibialis that’s just lengthened. This means you still have no arch, but can handle neutral shoes.

But that’s probably not the case for most people. Unless you’re specifically strengthening the right muscles, and you should see a physical therapist to figure out which ones, you’re not going to be strong enough for neutral shoes.

This means you should wear stability or motion control shoes. These shoes include a bost in the medial arch of dense foam. When you contact the ground, it essentially forces your foot into a natural arch position preventing overpronation.

Running With Flat Feet is Totally Possible:

If your doctor says that running with flat feet is impossible, get another doctor or see a sports doc. You’re going to just lose out on your runner’s high if you don’t.

What have you found to work with flat feet? Let us know in the comments below.

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