Tips for Running When You Have Flat Feet

Tips for Running When You Have Flat Feet

Having flat feet can make running and other activities more challenging but not impossible. Strengthening your feet and wearing the right shoes can help. Learn more tips about running with flat feet.

Flat feet are common and are often present from childhood or develop due to wear and tear. For most people, the foot condition doesn’t cause any problems. However, if you’re a runner with flat feet, you may have concerns about how your preferred form of physical activity may affect your feet. 

At Hansen Foot & Ankle in Mill Creek, Washington, our experienced podiatrist and ultra trail runner, Dr. Nathan Hansen, understands your concern and can help you find solutions. 

You don’t have to stop running because you have flat feet. Exercise is good for your foot condition. However, there are a few things you need to know about running with flat feet to prevent sports injuries

About your flat feet

If you have flat feet, then the arch in your foot disappears when you stand. Most people with flat feet don’t have any problems, but it can cause foot pain, leg cramps, or muscle fatigue.

Everyone is born with flat feet and develops arches during childhood. However, some children never develop the foot arch, resulting in flat feet. Some people develop flat feet later in life because the arch drops or collapses, a condition called pes planus. 

You’re more likely to have flat feet if it runs in your family. Some health problems, such as diabetes, obesity, or Achilles tendon injuries, increase your risk of developing flat feet.

Why running is a concern

Your foot arch helps keep your body aligned when walking or running and acts as a shock absorber when the foot hits the ground. If you have flat feet, your foot and ankle may roll too far inward during locomotion, something we call overpronation

The abnormal gait puts extra stress on the foot, increasing injury risk. Runners with flat feet are at greater risk of developing shin splints and may experience heel, knee, or back pain. However, not all runners with flat feet develop injuries or pain conditions.

Tips for running with flat feet

You can run if you have flat feet. However, taking a few precautions may prevent injuries and pain. If you have flat feet, we recommend:

Adding strength-building exercises

Many foot-specific strength-building exercises can help your feet, short foot arch lift, marble pickups, heel raises, resistant bands. We can teach you how to do these exercises at home.

Massaging your feet

Use your thumbs or a golf ball and gently massage the arch in the foot. Massaging your feet before and after your run may prevent the muscles from getting too tight.

Wearing supportive footwear

Running shoes that provide arch support may help prevent injuries. Or, you may benefit from custom-made orthotics that match your specific foot mechanics.

Don’t let your foot problems keep you from living an active life. If you have concerns about running with flat feet, we can help. Call our office or request an appointment online today.