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How to Run With Flat Feet

author image Tim Petrie
Tim Petrie is a Physical Therapist and an Orthopedic Certified Specialist working in Milwaukee, Wisc. When he isn't working, he loves distance running, Packers football, and traveling with his wife and his energetic kids.
How to Run With Flat Feet
A person with flat feet is standing on a wooden floor. Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

If you have flat feet, a condition where the arches of the feet have collapsed, a lack of foot strength and flexibility can inundate you with physical symptoms, such as pain in the feet, low back and legs. But having flat feet doesn’t warrant hanging up your kicks for good. With your doctor’s permission, the right self-care program and footwear can put you back on track in no time.

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Step 1

Support your ankles and feet when running. Choose orthotic arch support inserts to wear in your running shoes. Arch support insoles prevent your feet from overpronating when you run, giving extra support to the foot and ankle. The type of orthotic you need depends on the severity of your condition. Insoles range from rigid to soft support. Working with a podiatrist can help you choose the right arch support for running. Some conditions call for a minimalist approach.

Step 2

Rebuild your arches with simple exercises such as toe curls. Sit in a chair and lay a towel on the floor in front of you. Place your bare feet flat on the towel. Your knees should be above your ankles at 90 degrees. Curl your toes, gathering a ridge of the towel under your toes and pulling the towel toward you. Use all your toes to scrunch the towel and pull it toward you. Repeat 10 times. Reverse the motion by grabbing the ridges in the towel with your toes and pushing them away from you. Perform 10 repetitions.

Step 3

Run on level ground to help prevent overpronating when running. When you have flat feet, your feet turn outward when you run, causing the legs to twist inward. This dysfunction puts tremendous pressure on the mechanisms of the lower leg, including knee joints and ankles. Choose flat terrain with little to no unevenness to minimize pronation.

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