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"Hey ya flat-foot!" Questions from a gal with flat feet

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Hey everybody!

So I'm new to the site, and new to getting fit. I'm still learning which questions to post in the correct forums, so if this isn't the right place to ask this question then forgive me.


I also have flat feet. Not flat flat, the doc says their some kind of thing called "pronated". My footprints show an arch, and I have somewhat of an arch which I attribute to some of the foot/arch strengthening exercises I've done such as walking on my toes all day, writing the alphabet with my toe, and just walking around barefoot while forcing my feet to give themselves an arch by kind of pushing down with my toes while keeping my heel on the ground and essentially "lifting the arch". 


My left foot is the worst, I've rolled the ankle a few times, and I have this funny little knobby bone that sticks out right at the top of the arch, which is caused from the pronation  ( I can post a pic if anyone's interested, but I'm not gonna go flashing my funny feet right away I mean, I only just met you guys ;) ). After a day of moving around a lot in shoes with no support, or if i don't constantly focus on how I'm placing my foot when i move, or even if I'm over zealous with holding it an arch it freaking KILLS and the following day I'm left with an unattractive limp.


I've come here because I've been working on a couch to 5k program and I've started to enjoy running. When I saw a podiatrist he suggested wearing New Balance or Nike or something with lots of support. I'm very against those for one just because of all the bad things barefoot running blogs say about them, also because I get pretty bad knee and shin pain when I run in them. I also was wearing shoes like those the past three times I rolled my ankle. I find i get the least pain and I'm most comfortable running in my pair of Feiyue wushu shoes with the (old lady) orthotics the podiatrist gave me. 


So I was wondering if you guys have any tips on running with flat feet and how to prevent any injuries? Does it seem like I'm doing things right so far?





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This is purely anecdotal but I can tell you that my wife used to wear orthotics due to some issues similar to what you describe. She started running in Vibram five fingers and now has no troubles with her feet. If you have issues be aware that the Ct5K plan my take some adjusting if you have existing issues, repeating weeks may be nessecary to get through it without major pain or injury. That's my two cents as someone who hasn't directly had many issues like this.

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I've got flat feet and am lucky enough to have a specialist running shop fairly close by.  They have a treadmill and video equipment for gait analysis and then recommend shoes based on that.  In some ways I suspect that gait analysis is a bit of a gimmick - probably all they do with it is narrow down the choice to a type of shoe.  But even that is valuable.  Of the three pairs that they recommended on the basis of that, the pair I bought are by far the most comfortable shoes I own or have ever owned.  I wear custom orthotics in all my other shoes, but I'm lucky enough that one type of shoe was a pretty much perfect fit.  The shoes weren't cheap, but they were worth every penny.  For indoor sports I have fairly standard trainers which I wear with orthotics, and they're fine and I can run well enough indoors like that, but these running shoes just give me a bit of extra support/comfort/stability.  Essentially they're the same as having orthotics, but they've got them built into the shoe, rather than fitted in on top. 


I don't know much/anything about barefoot or near barefoot running, but I can't imagine even trying it with feet like mine, especially running mainly on concrete/gravel/paths rather than grass or mud.  I think there is something appealing about barefoot running, but my guess would be that if you don't have "survival of the fittest" feet and don't run on the same surfaces/terrain/conditions that we're evolved to run in, then going back to barefoot might not be the best idea.


For what it's worth, my recommendation would be to head down to a specialist running shop if you have one nearby, get gait analysis and some advice, and try on different shoes based on that, then buy what's comfortable.

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 Level 4 Human Adventurer / Level 4 Scout, couch to 5k graduate, six time marathon finisher.



Current 5k Personal Best: 22:00 / 21:23 / 21:13 / 21:09 / 20:55 / 20:25 (4th July 17)

Current 5 mile PB: 36:41 35:27 34:52 (10th May 17)

Current 10k PB: 44:58 44:27 44:07 44:06 43:50 (29th June 17)

Current Half Marathon PB: 1:41:54 1:38:24 1:37:47 1:37:41 (14th June 15)

Current Marathon PB: 3:39:34 3:29:49 (10th April 16)


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I suffer from a similar problem, from the sounds of it even more so. I went to my doctor freaking out in fear that I had gout, and turned out to be an issue somewhere between a pronation issue and a bunion of sorts, with a dash of turf-toe. 


Nonetheless, I recommend getting inserts, not like Dr. Scholl but something with serious support. I use something called the Powersteps Pinnacle, the Pinnacle was the key because it has a serious insole support that forces your foot to operate correctly. 


I buy a pair of shoes, any brand will do, and *RIP OUT THE BRAND NEW SHOE'S INSOLES* (it just feels wrong every time I do it, but my feet love me) and replace them with the heavy duty insole. 


I still get pain in my toe and foot if I push my mileage pretty hard, however nothing like what I was experiencing.




PS: The insoles are actually so heavy duty I only have 2 at a time and swap them in and out of shoes non stop from runners to slip on casuals. So don't fear the price, you only need 1-2 of them for as many shoes as you want. Took me about a year of running, sports, and everyday use to destroy my first one.


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I've read up on this a fair bit, and unfortunately, there's not much evidence beyond anecdote for what to do. In a nutshell, inserts will possibly alleviate the pain but will probably not fix the underlying problem.

There was an army study a few years back which basically destroyed the whole motion control shoe idea. In short, most people are best off with neutral shoes with around

10mm padding.

You can do barefoot work to strengthen your feet (as you described) too.

As for your feet killing after a lot of non-supported walking/running, that's the trouble with flat feet unfortunately. Some people have luck with a consistent exercise routine, but don't overdo it.

Best exercise to try is step on a towel and try to pull it towards you using the balls of your feet, keeping your heel still. Hard to describe...

Sorry if this is rambling...on my phone...ping me if you have any barefoot questions and I'll get back to you when I'm at my computer


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