Even if you have flat feet, chances are you haven't given much thought to the type of shoe you should be wearing. That's because the condition — which occurs when the foot does not have a natural arch, allowing the entire foot to touch the ground — is fairly common and typically painless.
But even if your flat feet aren't causing you pain, wearing the wrong shoes could lead to other issues. "Many problems can occur or be made worse, such as bunions, hammertoes, tendinitis, plantar fasciitis or back, hip and knee pain," podiatrist Jackie Sutera, DPM, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
With that in mind, we've rounded up seven of the best shoes for people with flat feet, along with what to know before you buy a pair.
We've included both men's and women's shoes on this list, as shoemakers typically market their products based on gender. Here's what to know about the difference: "Men's shoes tend to be cut wider and are usually over a size bigger than women's shoes," Dr. Sutera says, adding that the best option depends on a person's anatomy, fit, personal comfort, style and individual preference.
"It is more common for women to wear men's shoes, especially after surgery, to accommodate for swelling, and also in people with severe arthritis, where they need to wear wider or higher toe box shoes to accommodate for stiff, rigid joints," Dr. Sutera says,
1. Best for Walking: New Balance Fresh Foam 860VII
These lightweight New Balance sneakers offer a ton of support without being heavy, making them ideal walking shoes for people with flat feet.
Dr. Sutera recommends them for their extra cushioning as well as the fact that they're built with a medial post, a device inside the insole that offers more support for pronated feet.
They also come in widths ranging from narrow to extra wide, which wins them extra points in the comfort category.
2. Best for Running: Brooks Adrenaline
A beloved running shoe in general, Brooks Adrenaline is a great option for runners with flat feet, too, thanks to what Dr. Sutera says is great stability and cushioning.
They are built to offer added support without sacrificing comfort. Not to mention the many colors, widths and sizes they are available in. This is one simply solid, everyday running shoe.
3. Best Everyday Sneaker: Vionic Miles
Vionic bills itself as "the most supportive shoes... ever," and these everyday sneakers are no exception.
The women's Miles sneakers, which are made with breathable mesh for cool-foot comfort, are also expertly designed and approved, using a "podiatrist-designed orthotic with a flexible, cushioned outsole" to round out a perfectly supportive option for flat feet.
Buy it: VionicShoes.com for women's sizes 5-12; Price: $99.96
4. Best for Overpronation: Brooks Ariel
Overpronation occurs when the foot rolls inward with each step. Dr. Sutera calls Brooks Ariel sneakers a favorite for people with this issue thanks to the amount of stability, motion control and cushioning.
The Ariel also wins points for its supportive fit using its GuideRails technology — they are built to lessen the impact when a foot hits the pavement and prevent excess movement.
Buy it: BrooksRunning.com for women's sizes 6-13; Price: $160
5. Best on a Budget: Dr. Scholl's Blitz Walking Sneaker
Dr. Scholl's is synonymous with foot comfort, and their sneaker selection is no exception. Priced right at just $45, they are perfect for everyday use. Reviewers love them for their support and comfort during long periods of standing, walking or running.
They also come equipped with an ultra-padded insole for added comfort.
Buy it: DrSchollsShoes.com for women's sizes 6-11; Price: $45
6. Best Hiking Shoe: Merrell Moab 2
Merrells? For hiking? Groundbreaking.
There's a reason these shoes are on everyone's best-of lists, though: They're the real deal. The Moab 2 hiking shoe features everything you'd want out of a hiking shoe (they're waterproof, ultra-durable and breathable, to name a few) but also are a great choice for hikers with flat feet.
"They are breathable, light and shock-absorbing, and the molded nylon adds to the stability of the shoe," Dr. Sutera says.
7. Best Sport Sandal: Vionic Toe Post Sandals
Dr. Sutera recommends the Vionic sandal, which are "made to wear for longer periods of walking and standing," she says. "They offer support, a deep heel cup and cushioning."
These sandals are also approved by the APMA for comfort, durability and support. The unisex design is also affordable, clocking in under $70.
Buy it: VionicShoes.com (unisex sizes 5-13); Price: $64.95
What to Look for in Shoes for Flat Feet
Before you buy a new pair of kicks, here are three things to keep in mind:
1. Arch Support
Dr. Sutera calls arch support a "must-have" for people with flat feet.
"The raised padding or elevation located on the top of insoles in shoes or orthotics helps elevate and neutralize the inside of the mid-foot," she says.
Because people with flat feet tend to wear down shoes faster than those with a more neutral or higher arch, it's a good idea to look for a long-lasting shoe. This is important not only because you need a better quality shoe to alleviate any issues associated with flat feet, but also to prevent you from having to spend a lot of money replacing shoes more often.
3. Metatarsal Pads
While not as crucial as support and durability, Dr. Sutera calls metatarsal pads (which put an elevation behind the ball of the foot) a "nice-to-have" feature in shoes for people with flat feet.
"This cushions, redistributes and takes pressure off of the metatarsal joints of the forefoot," she says.
In general, people with flat feet tend to wear down their shoes more regularly. So regardless of the type of shoe you buy, Dr. Sutera says it's important to monitor them for signs of wear and replace shoes more regularly than someone with a more prominent arch.