If you have flat feet, the arch strain, instability and foot pain they cause can make daily activities like standing and walking unbearable. While many turn to insoles for relief, questions remain. Do insoles fix flat feet? What should you look for in an optimal insole?
In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about relieving discomfort for flat feet, including what type of insoles work best and the pros and cons of using them. With the right insoles matched to your needs, you'll find relief that allows you to return to walking and standing comfortably.
What Are Flat Feet?
Flat feet are a condition where your entire foot makes contact with the ground while standing. Usually, our feet have a slight upward curve in the middle called an arch. This arch is formed by tendons pulling up on the foot bones and ligaments connecting the bones.
The arch structure properly supports the body when standing, walking and running. However, some people lack this normal arch from birth or due to health conditions later in life. Fallen arches are flat feet that were once normal but have since flattened due to health issues or injury.
Flat feet can be caused by genetics, injury, illnesses like arthritis or diabetes, pregnancy, obesity, aging and overuse.
Symptoms of flat feet include:
- Pain, aching and swelling in your feet, ankles and legs
- Feet feel tired quickly, even after short periods of standing or walking
- Shin splints, knee pain or lower back pain
- Difficulty with stability and balance
- Feet turning inward excessively when walking, or overpronation
The lack of arch support strains other parts of the feet, ankles and legs, leading to misalignment and instability over time. Flat feet can ultimately result in chronic pain, impaired mobility, poor posture, plantar fasciitis and lower body injury.
Which Type of Insoles Are Best for Flat Feet?
The ideal insole should offer firm, structured support without being uncomfortably high. Arch support insoles are often the best option for relief and support for flat feet. This is because they have a built-up arch area that compensates for the collapsed arch in flat feet. The added arch support also helps realign the foot into a more neutral position, preventing excessive inward rolling.
Here are other key ways that arch support insoles help flat feet:
- Redistributing weight evenly across the foot reduces pressure on overloaded areas like the arch and ball of the foot, easing strain.
- The arch provides stability, lifting the foot and absorbing impact as you walk to enhance comfort.
- The added arch height restores the foot's neutral structure by realigning the bones and muscles into the proper position, which corrects overworked areas and prevents future issues.
Choosing the right arch support height is vital for getting the desired benefits, which depends on whether you have a rigid or flexible flat foot. If your feet remain flat when unweighted (such as when sitting with your foot resting on your knee), you have rigid flat feet and need low arch support.
If your feet show an arch in the same position mentioned above, you have flexible flat feet and a medium arch height provides better support and comfort. You'll also want to find an arch support insole that has deep, cushioned heel cups to support the heel and prevent overpronation.
Pros and Cons of Arch Support Insoles for Flat Feet
- Targeted Arch Support: Arch support insoles are designed with built-up arches to provide the support your flat feet lack. By supporting the fallen arch, quality arch supports can significantly reduce the pain, fatigue and discomfort associated with flat feet. The arch support works to redistribute weight away from overworked areas.
- Improved Alignment: Flat feet cause the ankles to roll inwards excessively, leading to poor mechanics and strain. Arch support insoles provide a firm base and lift in the arch area, which helps realign the foot into a more neutral position. This proper alignment reduces the issues caused by overpronation and improper foot motion.
- Enhanced Stability: Flat arches lead to poor stability and balance problems. Arch support insoles improve stability by supporting the foot structure against collapse. This makes standing, walking and running on diverse terrains much easier by preventing wobbling and rolling ankles.
- Shock Absorption: Flat feet have no arch to absorb impact, which increases shock directly to the feet, ankles, knees and back. Quality arch support insoles are designed to compress and absorb some of the force from each step, protecting the joints from repeated impact.
- Convenient: Arch support insoles can be purchased without a prescription or custom fitting. They are versatile and can be switched between shoes depending on your requirements, making them a convenient and readily available choice.
- Not Customized: Arch support insoles are not custom-molded to the exact contours of your feet, so you may not get the tailored support your arch needs. The fit and comfort levels can vary from person to person.
- Not Guaranteed to Provide Relief: While arch supports can provide significant relief for many people with flat feet, results can vary from person to person. The arch support provided by insoles may not relieve pain and discomfort for every person's unique foot issues. Also, severely collapsed arches may need more than insoles for complete relief.
- Ongoing Costs: Besides the initial upfront cost, you'll need to replace insoles every 6 – 12 months as the materials compress with use and lose effectiveness. You may also want to purchase more than one pair so you don't have to swap them between your shoes. Over time, these costs can add up.
Can Flat Feet Be Permanently Fixed with Insoles?
While insoles cannot permanently alter the structure of the feet to create arches in flat feet, they can effectively relieve symptoms. By supporting the arch and heel, quality arch support insoles promote better alignment and take pressure off overworked areas, reducing the pain, fatigue and instability caused by flat feet.
Other conservative treatments include:
- Wearing shoes with good arch support and stability
- Physical therapy exercises to stretch and strengthen the feet and calves
- Medications and ice/compression to reduce pain and inflammation
- Losing weight if extra pounds are contributing to arch collapse
For fallen arches that develop due to injury or overuse, treating the underlying cause is key. Rest, ice, medication, bracing and physical therapy can help in the short term. Custom orthotics and supportive shoes are often needed long-term to prevent complications.
Most flat feet do not require surgery, but you may need a procedure like bone fusions to reinforce the foot's arch in a severe case.
FP Insoles Buyer’s Guide: Best Arch Support Insoles for Flat Feet
FP Insoles offers two arch support insole collections — Gamechangers and Kingfoam. Both provide comfort and support for flat feet, but which is right for your specific needs?
Unlike most insoles, Gamechangers are custom orthotics that provide truly customized arch support by molding to the unique contours of your feet for tailored stability and alignment.
- Gamechangers Elite have increased arch support over other Gamechangers, which helps realign and lift rigid fallen arches into proper position. The durable Comfort Plus foam absorbs shock from the impact that flat feet would otherwise directly feel.
- Gamechangers Custom Orthotics are heat moldable, custom orthotics that conform precisely to the unique contours of your flat feet for tailored stability and alignment. The NASA-grade foam absorbs over 90% of shock impact.
- Gamechangers Custom Orthotics Lite provides lightweight medial arch support constructed from soft foam to gently lift and support rigid flat arches, ideal for casual shoes.
Kingfoam insoles provide dynamic arch support that adapts in real-time thanks to its responsive cushioning foam construction, making them an ideal option for flat feet.
- Kingfoam Orthotic Insoles feature a dynamic arch core that adjusts with each step to provide exceptional shock absorption. The foam conforms to your exact arch shape for personalized comfort and stability.
- Kingfoam Orthotic Elite Insoles have a layer of durable fabric reinforced by a polymer material (TPU) for maximum longevity. The dual-density arch design adapts to your foot's shape and movement, absorbing over 90% of shock to protect your flat feet from impact.
Experience Superior Support for Flat Feet with FP Insoles
At FP Insoles, we understand the importance of proper foot health, whether you have flat feet or any other type of arch. Whether you need to enhance your shoe comfort, want to increase your athletic performance or need to address a specific foot condition causing you discomfort, FP Insoles can help you
Give your feet the care and comfort they deserve. Browse FP Insoles' full collection of insoles to find the best solution for your unique needs.