flat feet, midfoot strike and picking the right shoes


I have been running for over 10 years. Over the past 3+ years have I transitioned successfully to a midfoot/forefoot strike. This has cured me of shin splints as well as improved my speed and endurance. As a result I have smashed my 5k, 10k and half marathon times.

However, I seem to have trouble picking the correct shoes. I have received conflicting advice about whether my flat feet are a concern when choosing shoes.

Some have said it should make no difference whether I get supportive, guidance, neutral or cushioned shoes as if I am running midfoot or forefoot I am landing in front of the arch and it therefore the shoe type never comes into question. This kind of makes sense. If my heel never (or barely) touches the ground (after my midfoot makes contact) then is the arch even in the equation?

Others say that the foot (flat foot in my case) will pronate no matter what touches the ground first.

Anyone out there with experience of gait analsys?



  • My view is: Shouldnt make any difference with forefoot landing as others have said.
    Your heel should touch the ground however, dont try to stop it, it should just quickly touch before lifting again.

    Running this way does bring the arch into the equation as the foot can work as it is supposed to. (pronation is not bad, its part of the natural foot movement to help your lower leg cope with shock) the problems arise when people over or under pronate and then this should only affect you if you heel strike.

    I naturally overpronate on one foot, and have no trouble running in barefoot shoes with a forefoot strike.

  • Have you tried Brooks Cadence? They encourage a mid foot strike and have support for overpronators.

  • I think my running has changed in exactly the same way and I too have fixed shin splints by running faster and by improving my technique to a more mid-foot strike. I feel that some shape to the shoe is important because my arch is low and flat. I use the low profile Asics DS Trainer. The midsole is thinner throughout it is not ever going to be too corrective and the support works great for me. It might be good for you and worth a look if nothing else. Email me at info@lansonrunning.com if you want?

  • Hi,

    Thanks for the replies. The reason I ask is within the last 2 weeks I bought a pair of Brooks PureFlow for long training runs (training for London marathon). I ran 4, 6, 3, 11, 3, 3 and 13 miles all fine within those 2 weeks. I then ran a fast 4.5 miles and the next morning my peroneal tendon was strained and causing me to limp around. That was 6 days ago and although I'm not limping, it does still hurt slightly (still icing and taking iburpofen).

    It seems very clear the cause is the PureFlow. I did the same injury about 2 years ago by foolishly wearing fibram ff's and the PureFlow are the same minimal style shoe, albeit with more cushioning. I clearly need some structure in my shoes.

    Before the Brooks, I had beeing running pretty much trouble-free in Newtons and Adidas Boston 3. I eventually switched from Newtons because gave me a tight calf on runs over 5 miles. I eventually switched from the Bostons as the cushioning was too firm for my midfoot strike (I'm 6foot and 65kg - and have been told the Boston is designed for someone 30-40kg heavier hence the firm sole).

    So, the advice is that the type of shoe should not be important to a midfoot striker, but my experience seem to contradict this!

    I'm also considering whether subtle orthotics would prevent stressing my peroneal tendon again should I choose the wrong shoes? However, I am hesitant to go down this road as it may introduce new problems. What do people think?

    Mark, I notice you are based in Kingston. I'm in SW14 so will try to drop in, hopefully at the weekend. I won't be fit to run, but it would be good to see what you would recommend.


  • Mike, you say you had the same injury with VFF's. When changing to minimalist shoes, are you upping the mileage slow enough. if not, then calf related strains like on your peroneal tendon (of which there are three i believe) are quite common. As you probably already know, minimalist shoes cause the calf muscles to work more than 'normal' shoes, and a lot of people find that its best to increase the mileage by no more than half to one mile a week.
    But, I can see that you are obviously a more experienced runner than i am, so not trying to tell you something you probably already know!
    I find that minimalist shoes with cushioning like Brooks just dont work for me, the sole has to be not cushioned, otherwise i have problems, dont know if its that the cushioning interferes with the arch working properly or not?
    I also cant run with a forefoot strike in 'normal' running shoes with any kind of heel drop. (obviously i guess as my heel cannot touch the floor!) The highest heel drop of any of my shoes is only 3mm.
    I guess it just shows all shoes are not suitable for everyone. Hope you manage to find the right pair. image


  • Thanks Max's Mum. Out of interest, what shoes are you using?

  • Currently, am using the Merrell Trail Gloves (no cushioning at all) for on road (yes i know contradictory!) and flatish, none 'technical' trail, and inov8 trailroc 245 (more underfoot stone protection than cushioning) for mud, rocks and hills etc.

    i know when i started off in the merrells i did 5 miles straight out because they felt so good, and killed my calves!  I had to drop right back for weeks and build up slowly. Also when eventually doing longer runs while marathon training I managed to do something similar to yourself, along the peroneal tendon under the ankle. I think i turned my ankle and then all of a sudden couldnt run, and was in pain for a few weeks. I had to continue in 'normal' running shoes until after the marathon and then build up the miles slowly again

    I know not quite due to tight calves, more like weak ankles, but now having trained offroad regularly for a long time am doing up to 12 miles at the moment in minimalist shoes without straining calves or turning ankles! (touch wood image)
    will be upping that shortly with some halfs. image

  • Mike, I have flat feet, and have had conflicting advice too. According to gait analysis (done in running shop on 2-3 occasions) I should not need any support, because I do not over-pronate. This is what the standard advice seems to be. However, my physio told me (after achilles problems) that I most certainly do need support. These days I use stability shoes, brooks adrenaline 12 with (recently re-introduced after another achilles flare up) inserts, which seems to work for me.

    All the advice out there seems to be get your gait analysed, but it has consistently given me the wrong answer. In  my experience, gait analysis by itself is not enough.

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