Previously, we discussed preventing running injuries with the right running shoes, but many people have asked a more pointed question lately online. What about flat-footed runners?

For starters, flat feet are caused when the medial longitudinal arch of a person’s foot flattens or collapses. When this happens, the person’s feet appear to sit perfectly flat on the ground with no visible arch in the center. Unfortunately, having flat feet leads to problems such as lower back pain, knee pain, bunions, ankle pain, and heel pain.

Because of this, it’s important to be careful when doing any form of physical activity, especially running which relies ‘solely’ on the feet (pun intended). Below are five things every flat-footed runner should know before hitting the track.

1. The Right Shoes are Everything

When it comes to running with flat feet, it’s all about the shoes you choose. Unfortunately, a regular pair of running shoes truly won’t cut it for a flat-footed runner. The reason is these shoes are not made to have the kind of arch support necessary for flat feet and do not focus on stability or motion control like others do.

The key is to look for a shoe that counteracts what is known as overpronation. Basically, overpronation is when a flat-footed person’s foot hits the ground. Instead of molding to the ground and reducing shock impact, flat-footed individuals hit the ground in a curved angle which sends all the pressure straight into the ankle and foot.

Some great shoe options include the Asics Gel Kayano 19, the Brooks Trance 12, the Nike Zoom Structure 16, and the Saucony ProGrid Stabil CS2. You can find out more about high quality running shoes for flat feet on Running Shoes Guru.

2. Steadily Increase Distance and Speed

Although this may seem obvious to most runners, taking a 10-mile jog without any preparation can lead to some serious foot and ankle pain. For flat-footed runners, this is even more important.

The best way to approach running is by starting with a slow and short jog and building up each day until you find the right distance and speed that suits you. If you don’t do this, you may push yourself too hard which could lead to serious pain and even ankle or foot injury.

3. Run on Even Surfaces

Another important thing to keep in mind when you have flat feet are the surfaces you run on. Of course, the best options are man-made tracks or treadmills, but this doesn’t mean you can’t go for a jog in the woods or on concrete.

It only means you must be very careful and reduce your speed on these routes—and limit the number of uneven trails you run on. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry. The last thing you would want is to be out for months due to an injury that could have simply been avoided with caution.

4. Get Custom Orthotics

Even with some of the most supportive running shoes on the market, you more than likely will find little to no interior support. Most insoles are simply meant for comfort, but few have the arch support or shock support needed for a flat-footed runner.

Therefore, it is better to go to your podiatrist and have them make a custom orthotic that suits your special needs. A professional opinion is always best when dealing with something like flat feet.

Although you may think insoles would work just as well, having your podiatrist take time with you to recognize the parts of your foot that are affected most is the best way to ensure you do not get hurt when running.

5. Properly Recover Before Heading Back Out

This is perhaps the most important thing once you have chosen the right shoes for you. You may think pain is a sign of hard work or is completely normal, but this is far from true. When lifting weights, for instance, pain is your body’s way of letting you know you should take time to repair your muscles—and running on sore feet is no different.

When you run on sore feet, you don’t allow them time to grow accustomed to the exercise, risking further injury. Instead, take a break from running. You can use various methods to speed up your recovery including heat therapy, massaging the area or even simply stretching the sore muscles. However, if the pain does not go away, it is crucial that you visit your podiatrist as this could be caused by an underlying injury you may be unaware of. At Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle, you can learn more about how to properly care for your flat feet during exercise and discover problems before they take you off the track and into the emergency room. Set up an appointment with us today for a consultation.