I have very flat feet. If you read through some of my older posts, you’ll see me talking about my feet hurting and sometimes even going numb on bumpy ground. Over the years, I’ve tried several shoes and orthotics and will share what works for me.
I use the cheap, blue Powerstep inserts for my dress shoes and tennis shoes. They work fine when I’m limited in my walking or walking on flat ground. These are great for everyday use and may work for people with slightly fallen arches. But my feet are very flat.
After a lot of trial and error, I have settled on some relatively expensive orthotics from Spenco called Total Support Max. I buy them at a high-end running store near my house, but you can get them online. They are very stiff with high arches. This helps tremendously on uneven ground riddled with rocks and roots.
I’ve tried several pairs of boots and trail runners and have settled on Altra Lone Peak 3.5. They have a wide foot box and grip pretty well. My heels never lift out of the shoes, even when they’re new. As a cautionary note, I’ve found that these shoes increase my odds of rolling my ankles to the outside. But that (low) risk is worth it for the comfort that I otherwise enjoy.
Update: I’ve moved on to the Lone Peak 4.0 shoes and they are superior to the 3.5, which ran small.
My feet will cramp a bit for the first couple of miles each day. After that, I’m like a machine. I can crank out big miles without my feet ever bothering me. I should add that I stop to stretch my arches and lower calves on small rocks and roots throughout the day. This is good for preventing plantar fasciitis.
I usually get +/-500 miles on each pair of shoes and double that on the Spenco orthotics. After that, the inserts lose their rigidness. The plastic pieces that comprise the support structure actually separate and start to fail. The foam/gel sections still work fine, but the inserts are no more supportive at this point than the cheap Powerstep inserts I wear in my everyday life.
This footwear combination, in addition to my merino wool Darn Tough socks and knee sleeves, is what allowed me to crank out 25+ miles days through the High Sierra on my John Muir Trail thru-hike. I highly recommend it to anyone with flat feet.
Check it out
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Note that the price on this particular set of orthotics varies wildly on Amazon. You might be better off looking at your local running store for a better deal if the price is over $50. They’re reliably cheap on Zappos, which is owned by Amazon. Odd, right?
Note that trail runners for long-distance hiking should be ½ to 1 size larger than your everyday shoes. This allows your feet to flatten out without constriction. I’ve found that these particular shoes run a bit small, so you may need to buy 1½ sizes larger than usual.