Low Arch

Flat feet, also known as “pes planus”, are a defect of the foot that eliminates the arch. This condition is most often inherited. Arches, however, can also fall or descend during adulthood.

Some factors that may lead to flat feet are: wearing high heels for long periods of time, obesity, diabetes and injury.  Low arches have shown to exert abnormal pressure on the ankle joint that can create foot pain and muscle soreness at the foot, calf muscles and lower back [1].

Treatment for Flat Feet in Adults. In general, conservative treatment for flat feet acquired in adulthood are recommended.  This includes pain relief and insoles or custom-made orthotics to support the foot and prevent progression.  Surgery may also be considered to correct the foot posture and stabilize the arch, however, procedures such as these have potential complications and conservative methods should be tried first. [1,3]

Scientific Research and Recommendations

Recent research data collected at the Hong Kong Polythechnic University has found that rearfoot overpronation is decreased in runners that wear shoes with stiff and supportive insoles.  runners who wore shoes with no supportive arch insoles had a rearfoot overpronation angle of 17.7 degrees and runners who wore stiff and motion control arch insoles only overpronated 11.2 degrees [2].    The clinical evidence found in this study showed that all subjects with rearfoot overpronation had larger rearfoot pronation when wearing neutral footwear lacking arch support than when wearing motion control footwear. With their results, this study was able to conclude that excessive rearfoot pronation movement is reduced when runners with overpronation put on motion control footwear, as compared to neutral footwear.  Furthermore, this research study concluded that if the subjects with rearfoot overpronation (due to low arches) put on inappropriate footwear e.g neutral footwear lacking arch support, the excessive rearfoot pronation is further increase after prolonged running. [2]

Runners with low arches need a more structured and supportive shoe with a stiff midsole and insole in order to prevent the overpronation that is common with low arches.  Scientific evidence suggests that in order to avoid painful side effects such as overpronation, runners with low arches should be careful when choosing athletic shoe.

Shoe Recommendations

Motion Control Shoes

Motion Control shoes are for runners who generally have a low or flat arch and are moderate to severe overpronators. These shoes have extra stiff arch support on the medial side to slow excessive pronation and tend to have wider and flatter outsoles. Heavier runners who need extra support and durability may also want Motion Control shoes. [3]







[1] “Foot Pain: High Arches and Flat Feet” http://www.about.com http://adam.about.net/reports/000061_10.htm

 [2] “Investigation of Running Shoe Design on the Foot Kinematics, Kinetics and Muscle Recruitment Pattern in People with Overpronation Problem” by Roy Tsz-Hei Cheung, Ph.D.  Department of Rehabilitation Sciences.  The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2010.

[3] “Shoe Fit Guide” http://www.zappos.com/running-shoe-fit-guide

image: http://footcarexpress.com/foot-orthotics/arch-support-for-flat-feet/.  Accessed 4/18/2012


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