I personally have had flat feet my entire life. Luckily I was treated by a Podiatrist at a young age with custom orthotics to assist in arch support. I also learned some techniques over the years to allow me to participate in competitive sports and most recently over the past few years long distance running. I have been able to run in the Cooper River bridge run the past four years without injury. So I would like to offer my best advice, based on my own experience, on how to care for your flat feet and run without pain or discomfort.
This will be a two part series first focusing in on finding the proper motion control running shoe, being evaluated for orthotics, and stretching.
Part two will focus on starting a running program and tips to ease discomfort in your flat feet during and after your runs.
- The correct running shoe
- Over the counter or custom foot orthotics
- Consistent stretching exercises
If you have flat feet then starting with the proper running shoe is the first step
1) It is worth your time and money to go to a specialty running store to be fitted for running shoes. You should first have your foot measured to make sure you haven't changed shoe sizes over the years. The next step is looking for a anti-pronation running shoe or "Motion control" running shoe. In my experience you need to try on these running shoes in the store and go outside and jog in place to see if they feel comfortable. The "Brooks Beast" in my opinion offers the most motion control but is to heavy and bulky for me. The running shoe that I have used over the past four years has been the "Mizzuno Alchemy". I really leave it up to the individual because if you suffer from flatfeet you may be more of a degree of pronation than others. I personally am as flat as one can be so this specific shoe has worked for me. In addition while your are at the running store look for a moisture wicking sock which well help to "wick" away moisture from your feet to help prevent blister formation.
It is almost equally important to be evaluated by your local Sports Podiatrist if you suffer from flatfeet. X-rays and clinical evaluation are essential steps in having the proper diagnosis and treatment plan. X-rays would be able to give information with regards to degree of flattening of the arch and if arthritis, stress fractures, or bone spurs are presents. In addition it is important to evaluate if your flat arch is flexbile or rigid which can be easily tested in the office. At the time of the office visit it will be determined if you need a really good over the counter orthotic or custom foot orthotic. The custom foot orthotic is typically the best treatment and can be made according to the given sport you participate in. The orthotic is made from a plaster impression of the feet and a specific prescription is written out for the type of sports orthotics to be fabricated. Most insurances do cover custom orthotics and they take two weeks to be made.
So now that you have the proper running shoe and orthotic the next step is stretching. I personally like three stretcing exercises to begin with. The first stretch involves taking a stretching band or towel and placing it on the balls of your feet. Pull the streching band or towel towards you and hold for three sets of thirty seconds. The next stretch is the runners stretch. Same hold three sets for thirty seconds. The third stretch is placing our feet against a stair and leaning forward for three sets of thirty seconds. These three stretching exercises stretch the achilles tendon and plantar fascia ligament to get you warmed up.
Another stretching device that our practice utilizes is the plantar fascia/achilles night splint. The night splint assist in stretching the plantar fascia ligament and achilles which in turn helps to prevent plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis. Our practice has tested various night splints and we are able to offer them at each of our two locations West Ashley and Mount Pleasant.
Please look our for the second blog on Tips for running with flat feet that will focus on more of my personal experiences with running.