Flat feet.

This time last year I went to accelerate in Sheffield, had gait analysis done, feet looked at and was told I pronate and had flat feet. Instead of suggesting trainers with support they advised the opposite - completely no support. And so I ended up with a pair of Ghosts. One year and several 10kms later and my calf is in pain after every run. My physio says that I should have been wearing trainers with support as I have flat feet and probate. Is there any good evidence for who is right?


  • This is a hot topic in running at the mo. Some feel running without support builds muscles around the foot and ankle and therefore recommend that approach. Others feel the foot needs support during running to prevent injuries. From what evidence I've read the research doesnt support one method over the other - it's really about each individual.

    You might find more supportive shoes stop your calf pain. Equally you may find if you strengthen your calf muscles and reduce your mileage for a little while that this will deal with the issue. Really it's up to you! Do you prefer a minimalist shoe and can treat the calf pain or would you prefer more support??
  • Everyone's different and obviously -something- is going wrong if you have calf pain after every run.

    However, my own anecdata is that I've always had fairly flat feet, the running shops say that on video I overpronate (although my shoe wear didn't indicate that) - and I'm now running 50+ miles per week in minimalist VivoBarefoot Neos (I ran a 50 mile trail run in the trail version recently). The result is that my feet have muscled up - I now have an arch as indicated by the wet foot test. Note: I made a decision to change to a barefoot running style with high cadence, midfoot landing etc.

    Limitations: I had to increase the minimalist distance slowly, I make sure to stretch my calves well after every run and I self-massage my calves night and morning. I've had some Achilles twinges on occasion (but so do lots of runners, minimalist or otehrwise) and recently some focal calf tightness after overdoing it on hill training, but massage has sorted that.

  • Meanwhile, Tom said it better!

  • Debra's got it spot on... Just running in lightweight or minimalist shoes will probably lead to issues you need to strengthen your feet and your legs in general.

    I have the same problem and have started a barefoot regime which involves sessions of jumping, hopping, squatting, skipping some of it on a Bosu Ball for balance and stability. I realise that to recover from years of wearing stability trainers and orthotics you need a radical approach and a long term plan.

    Also the high cadence and forefoot is the way to go....

  • This is interesting to read because I've been suffering from shin splints even though I had bought supportive trainers on recommendation of our local running shop because of my flat feet and I recently changed to minimalist shoes after resting for 3 weeks on doctor's and physio orders and even just doing 1 mile, twice a week, the shin splints have returned.  There's quite a lot of advice out there and trying to find what works is proving tricky.  Upon another recommendation, I'm looking at going to a physio and getting a biomechanical assessment but all these things cost money and money is something I don't have much of at the moment.  I also ice dip after runs and massage my legs with ice cubes 3-4 times daily.  Never suffered from calf problems though when running in my minimalist shoes.  It's all so confusing!  

  • I really commiserate Sally – injuries are a bugger…

    I am struggling with plantar Faciitis at the moment and after reading all the books and on line advice I concluded that there is no one answer and it is very much an individual thing. I decided to go for the barefoot thing I described above; even through it is totally counter intuitive. Imagine doing a load of hopping and jumping when you have a dagger sicking into your heel! But in the end I decide to ignore all the advice and take responsibility on myself to get well. I am experimenting on myself and trying to work out the answer..

    All I know is that if we’re strong, flexible and adaptable we can cope with all that impact sport can throws at us!

    Having said all of that, I don’t have much experience of shin splints and would like to understand why it happens at all and why to some people and not others. I assume that you avoid hard surfaces when running. I have always tried to do as much of my running as possible on trails as the impact from road running does have consequences… I am also not sure about icing? I do use it myself sometimes but in the end you are treating the symptom and it does allow us to do things we shouldn’t as does ibufren which I have also stopped taking. What happens if you stop icing? I do remember somewhere reading that shin pain can be linked to tight calves but that might be an old wives tale as well!

    In general my philosophy is that we need to keep moving and not stop but sometimes adapt how we move!

    Anyway good luck.

  • You're correct. Shin pain IS linked to tight calves due to the deep compartment of the calf. Every runner has a ceiling, a limit at which they can avoid injury. Beyond that, structures break down and an injury occurs.

    I go with a minimalist approach, strengthening the feet & lower kinetic chain. I run every other day to allow recovery. I run off-road a lot and always different routes to challenge stability and core. As Debra says, feet do muscle up... it's nice to see arch definition. You can do exercises for your arch as well. You do have to build up slowly though to allow for calves and feet to get conditioned. Plenty of stretching - not before running but afterwards and on rest days. Foam rollering is good too.

  • I think that the initial problem discussed here is that wearing minimalist shoes means you land more on the forefoot (as heel striking would be painful!) and this significantly reduces the overpronation and the effect of having flat feet.

    This is great for people prone to calf and shin pain although must be built up slowly to gradually strengthen the foot and calf muscles.

    It's either that or wear motion control trainers and stick with your heel strike.

    But DON'T heel strike in neutral shoes if you overpronate, that won't do you any good at all and can lead to injuries like tarsal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, knee pain etc etc

  • no you dont want it supported. the arch is there to stretch and flex so if you support it your preventing it from doing this,

    my advise would be to switch to a midfoot strike or forefoot as some ppl call it.

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