Flatfoot is a semi-serious condition that can refer to different things and can be caused by a multitude of factors. Usually what we mean by flat feet is a partial or total lowering (and therefore disappearance) of the medial arch of the foot, usually due to the inflammation or some other issue with posterior tibial tendon, that is normally in charge of supporting your foot’s arch.
The condition is not that rare, and, according to some stats, over 8% of adults in the USA have flat feet, and another 4% has fallen arches.
If you are into CrossFit, or you are thinking about giving it a shot, there are some things to take into consideration when finding the right footwear.
First up, arch or no arch, there are some things that hold true for every crossfitter out there. The sport itself includes a lot of Olympic lifting, deadlifting and squatting, so you should usually avoid running shoes (if it has the word “running” in it, you should do the same but in the opposite direction), but more on that later.
That being said, you can’t really buy lifting shoes either. Anybody that has a pair of squat shoes can tell you that doing burpees or box-jumps in them is no walk in the park. It doesn’t feel right, it’ not practical, and it’s not kind to the lifting shoes either.
So you should be shooting for something in between comfort on one side and stability on the other. Luckily, CrossFit is gaining ground and fast, and the sportswear companies have decided to jump on the bandwagon and make shoes that would meet everybody’s needs.
With most people out of the woods this way, those companies are not necessarily thinking about you and me, my flatfooted friend. That’s why I will try to give you my choice of the shoes you might want to consider buying if you are into CrossFit at all.
This shoe comes in such a variety of color combinations that I wasn’t sure that they were all the same model. They provide a good squeeze at the midfoot and it seems that they provide solid lateral support. Most people that purchased new Metcons used them for running and bodyweight exercises, as much as I could figure out, which makes this a well-rounded shoe.
They have a rubber sole so slipping around is a non-issue, and the double density foam in the middle of the sole provides not only comfort but also durability if you are into climbing ropes as a part of your CrossFit WODs.
As someone with flat feet, you can benefit from purchasing this shoe as it allows for good medial arch support and it carries a thick sole with a minimal drop. Breathability is a non-thinker with this one with its textile outer shoe and plenty of vents along on the sides and at the top of the shoe.
The possible downsides are that they run a half size smaller, according to some reviews and that the tongue tends to run down towards the toes due to its thinness.
Also, some claimed that Metcons are not as durable as they had expected. Some of the most nitpicky customers had a problem with the shoelaces as they kept untying during workouts. I have to say that wouldn’t be too big of a deal with me, but I just wanted to give you the whole picture.
To summarize, I think this a great shoe, that is sturdy and breathable enough to support your CrossFit training and assist with flat feet, but maybe you shouldn’t opt for these if bodyweight training and running is your forte.
This shoe can be a perfect choice for you if running is your game, you have flat feet and your feet are a bit narrower, to begin with. Needless to say, the medial arch support is outstanding, and the shoe squeezes your midfoot just the way it is supposed to, of course, if you have narrow feet as I do.
They are also very light and carry a rubber sole with a gel padding, so I am guessing that running in them has to be very enjoyable.
One more thing that I have to mention before I move on to the cons: these shoes are very budget-friendly. If you are not looking to spend too much money and you are looking to buy a pair of solid trainers for CrossFit, these might just work for you. And if you decide that CrossFit is just not for you, at least you are left with a pair of amazing running shoes that provide good support for your condition.
On the other hand, if you are planning to base your WODs mostly on heavy lifting or Olympic lifts, these might not be the shoes that meet your needs.
As you know, the gel is great for running and other outdoor activities, but it isn’t your best friend if you are trying to snatch for reps, so it’s a good idea to think before you buy.
In the very end, I have to repeat that these aren’t shoes that you should purchase online, without having tried them on first. They are said to run a half-size smaller, and they are pretty narrow as well.
Nike’s Zooms are a great choice if you want a perfect mix of lightweight, medial arch support and lateral stability. They are tight around the middle of the foot, but much more comfortable for the forefoot than some other shoes. As you can see from both of these statements, this is one flatfoot-friendly shoe.
What I like the most about these shoes is their breathability. If you are someone who runs a lot (and sweats a lot) then look no further. Even if you are basing your workouts on some other HIIT activities (like high knees, burpees, jumping lunges or tuck jumps) you can freely give Nike Zooms a try.
That being said, again, I don’t think that these are necessarily the first pair you should be grabbing if Olympic lifting is your thing. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to hit the sweet spot between stability and shock-absorption, and Nike’s babies tend to lean more towards the comfort side.
The design is not exactly my cup of tea, especially, but then again I was repeatedly called the guy with the ugliest shoes in the gym (and I wear that name like a badge of honor, the gym is one place where you are allowed to look like a peacock). All jokes aside, I know that the looks are not the most important when it comes to picking training shoes, but I am just trying to cover all bases for you.
All that I am saying is that you should opt for a black and white combination as the black one can seem a bit too simple and even cheap (not that the shoe itself is cheap or bad quality, of course).
Anybody who has ever worn Asics running shoes knows that they are all about comfort, and these beauties are no exception. If anything they are even more suited for active people with flat feet than its predecessors (that’s why there is such a significant price difference).
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that Gel-Craze 4s are not worth it. They provide excellent stability and medial arch support, and the shock-absorption has been made into a fine art by now.
The part that speaks to me the most is so-called AHAR Outsole- an Acronym for ASICS High Abrasion Rubber which was added in places that get damaged first for extra durability. If you are planning to go into CrossFit, you are about to see some unusual moving patterns, and your shoes have to be ready to take the blows (both metaphorical and physical).
Gel-Craze 4s are also incredibly lightweight, and breathability is a five-star feature.
On the other hand, I do have to say, that (aside from all the other stuff that was already said about running shoes being used for weightlifting) these shoes might have a durability issue in the toe area.
This might be because of the drop (around 10 mm), which can cause your foot to slide forward, especially during running. This is nothing critical, but it can pose a problem if you like to also run long distance, or if you have exceptionally narrow feet. If you don’t fall under one of those categories, you can freely ignore everything that I have just said.
Now Reebok knows how to make a cool shoe. It doesn’t matter if you like to look fashionable (almost elegant) while working out or you lean more to the ostentatious side, Nano 7.0s have got you covered. They come in a variety of colors and styles, and they will make an impression on you, I can guarantee it.
The forefoot is wide enough and the middle part of the sole supports your medial arch in just the right way. Moreover, with Nano-weave they are not only sly-looking but also extremely lightweight.
The high abrasion rubber outsole makes these shoes even more durable, and the perfect drop of 4 mm combined with a hard sole make these shoes an amazing choice for anybody who is into lifting. They are not too stiff for bodyweight movements and plyometric jumps, but they are definitely sturdy enough to support your heavy compound lifts.
The only issue that I have with Nanos is the price which can be a little steep. Again, please note that I am not saying they are not worth it. I am just saying that maybe novice lifters who aren’t really sure about CrossFit yet might opt for a different first pair.
All in all, an amazing, shoe, and if you ask me, go for Vitamin C, Solar Yellow, Black.
If looks play an important role for you, this might just be the perfect shoe for you. Right off the bat, the sheer number of offered color designs takes you back, and it can be difficult to find the combination you like best.
Moreover, Nike’s Free Trainer 5.0s also offer great medial arch support combined with pretty solid breathability. Thanks to the stretchy outer shoe your feet will be hugged from both sides and held in place, safe from any unwanted lateral movements.
And did I mention that they are incredibly lightweight? Well, they are, which makes this a well-rounded shoe for all you flatfooted CrossFit athletes.
On the downside, they don’t necessarily come cheap, and I am not sure just how long would they be able to put a fight against ropes, bear crawls and other unusual moving patterns so common in CrossFit.
Again, this doesn’t make them a bad choice, if your priorities match their characteristics.
While this is technically a running shoe, let’s give it a benefit of a doubt. It does seem incredibly lightweight which can play a big role in your CrossFit WODs, and it is more budget-friendly than Nano’s or Nike’s.
As a running shoe, it does provide unmatched comfort and shock absorption, but that can be a downside for all of us trying to snatch, clean and jerk or squat where our only thought is stability.
Everything else that I have said for other running shoes is still true here: it supports the medial arch, it allows for fantastic lateral support as well, and they are not particularly sturdy, which is understandable given the facts they are still running shoes.
The price is fair, and if you are just thinking about entering the world of CrossFit these can be a good choice as their primary purpose is running after all.
It was about time we heard from PUMA again. I was a loyal fan throughout my high school years, but to be quite honest, it never occurred to me that they might have gotten into CrossFit.
On the other hand, I have to say that the feedback they got was mostly positive. The basic take-home message from most people was that these shoes are wallet-friendly, sturdy enough to take a beating worthy of CrossFit, and they also hold the midfoot in a safely locked position with more than enough arch support.
On the other hand, people who have worn them say that there is a break-in period with PUMA 6s, which is understandable given how sturdy they are.
And if you want to be really nitpicky, they are a little bit heavier than their other counterparts, so you might not want to buy them if your primary activity is running. Other than that, this shoe is all around fantastic.
There is a caveat with buying CrossFit shoes that you have to be aware of. Crossfit is an umbrella term that includes various different exercise styles that it has borrowed from other sports. That means that your primary focus can be different from that of another crossfitter. Depending on your personal preference, you need to find shoes that work the best for you.
Generally speaking , your focus can go three different ways: weightlifting (in which case you want to opt for stability more than anything else), gymnastics (in which case you want durability – just imagine what rope climbing can do to your shoes), and running (in which case you want comfortable shoes that are shock-absorbent and have good breathability).
I categorized the things that you should be on a lookout for when buying CrossFit shoes, so you can walk away from this article hopefully ready to buy what works for you.
Medial Arch Support
Medial arch support means that the shoe at hand needs to provide the support for your foot in order for it to stay in the position it wouldn’t be able to hold on its own (aka, with an arch). Not only does this help with pain caused by flat feet, but it also puts your ankles (and therefore knees and hips) in a better position to execute the big lifts, especially squat and deadlift variations.
It’s not only uncomfortable, but also dangerous to squat with your knees caving in towards each other, and this feature can prevent that from happening.
However, if the shoe is perfect for you in every other way, but it doesn’t provide good medial arch support, I wouldn’t discard them just yet. If the toe cap is wide enough, you can fit in an orthotic insole and work with that. As you can see, this criterion is important but it’s not a deal breaker.
Lateral support means that the outer side of your shoe’s upper needs to provide support and stability for your ankle, and to prevent lateral movement while executing any possibly dangerous exercises (it can be any variation of squatting or lunging, but also jumping or running, none of which are strangers to CrossFit WODs).
Lateral support provided by the shoe can be difficult to assess to a novice, but as a start, you can search for external cages or other structural solutions that a manufacturer has reached for (double lining or even a slightly elevated sole on the lateral side of the shoe.
Now this one is very important for both your weightlifters and runners alike. Clearly, if you are opting for the “weightlifting” end of the spectrum of CrossFit you are going to need a pair of shoes with a wider firmer sole, and if you are planning for your WODs to revolve around mostly running, you are going to need something shock-absorbent, but I would recommend getting something in between, so your big lifts wouldn’t suffer, and running in your shoes wouldn’t seem like a crazy idea.
After all, CrossFit is about being strong and fit at the same time, last time I checked.
Size can sound like a little bit of overkill when it comes to purchasing manuals, right? After all, you all know your shoe size. Well, yes, and no. CrossFit shoes can run a half size smaller, so I really would recommend buying them online without having tried them on first.
Another argument to my case is the fact that most of these shoes have a drop (difference in height between the heel and the tip of the shoe). This can cause your foot to slide forward which can cause discomfort if the shoe doesn’t fit perfectly.
So do yourself a favor and try on a pair before you buy. You can thank me later.
We covered the topic of stability when we talked about the soles. But what I failed to mention there is that the shoe has to provide support and stability for more than just your ankle. As a person with extremely narrow feet, I can testify that there is more to stability than holding your ankle in place.
Ideally, shoes should feet perfectly around the middle of the foot, right where the arch is. In addition, your toes and forefoot shouldn’t be given too much room to wiggle. Otherwise, they might start cramping, aching and in general, making your workouts far less enjoyable.
If you like to include as much running as possible in your CrossFit workouts, you are probably an avid runner, and you don’t need me to tell you to pick up a lighter pair of shoes. But I do want to pitch in and say that putting all of your eggs in one basket has never been a good thing. Sure you can find a pair of feather-light running shoes, but they might not stand the test of time (and I am not talking about too long of a period, just so we are clear), especially if you are into climbing ropes at all.
On the other hand, for all of you muscle-heads out there, I know that squat shoes are a godsend for heavy lifts, but if CrossFit (and not powerlifting) is your choice then just consider buying a pair with a slightly smaller drop, and a sole that is just a smidge softer than wood.
This may not seem like a big deal, but believe me, breathability is an important factor when choosing shoes. Your feet are emitting heat when your body needs a cool-down. Imagine just how hot they can get with the end of a workout approach.
Buying a more breathable pair of shoes will go a long way, and this is again especially important for people who do a lot of running or HIIT in their WODs.
In the very end, take a second and think about the odors that can inhabit your shoe, and tell me honestly that the extra 10$ are not worth it. Just trust me on this one, if you come across two pairs of similar shoes that you like, opt for the one with extra vents.
Let me be honest – CrossFit shoes do not come cheap (or at least now by default). So if you spare a considerable amount of money for a solid shoe that will provide support and help you work out in spite of flatfeet, you might as well make them last a while.
The soles are not the most common problem either, unlike with running shoes or shoes you use for basketball or soccer.
Since CrossFit is exposing your shoes to completely different kinds of movements that can vary vastly among themselves (again, I can’t stress enough how quickly you can ruin your shoes with rope climbing), your shoes have to come with a solid sole, but with a sturdy outer shoe as well.
Removable insoles can play an important role with breathability and they are just convenient as it’s easier to wash only them rather than the entire shoe.
Also, some shoes can waste from the inside, especially if your feet tend to sweat, and given the lower arch of your foot, the contact surface increases additionally which can only make the wasting quicker.
With removable insoles, you can hinder that problem and replace just the insoles that come to a dime a dozen instead of having to buy a new pair. And there is an added benefit for everybody with flat feet: you can replace the original insole with your own orthotic one and make your workouts even more comfortable.
As you could see, choosing the right shoe can be a challenging task, especially if you have problems with flat feet. That, at least in my opinion, doesn’t have to be a bad thing in and of itself. I love browsing through the catalogs online, window shopping and trying out new shoes. When the time comes I am ready to buy the pair that I want and need as I have everything else sorted out.
Even if you don’t find the shopping experience enjoyable, I think that you are now at least equipped with the necessary knowledge in order to choose the shoe that will not only help you have an enjoyable workout but help you with flatfeet in the process.
To sum things up, you will need a shoe that supports your medial arch. This is crucial if you want to avoid your ankles from overpronating and causing disruptions along the kinetic chain when performing exercises that include some sort of squatting.
Talking of squatting, you will need a shoe that prevents lateral movement in your ankles and provides support for that area.
Depending on your primary focus, you will need to choose for a harder or softer sole, but my advice is not to go to close to either one of the extreme cases, as you can’t completely exclude running nor weightlifting as a crossfitter.
Moreover, your shoes need to have good breathability as CrossFit is a demanding discipline, and the intensity of your workouts will cause your feet to sweat or at least heat up. It’s always a good idea to look for a pair of shoes with extra vents.
To sum it all up, I understand that CrossFit might be just a hobby of yours and that you are not looking to spend too much money on these shoes, but if you are buying them nonetheless, try to find a pair with a good sole and a durable outer shoe. Remember, to buy cheap means to buy twice.
All of the shoes reviewed are a good choice for someone, as we are all different in needs and goals. I hope that this review helped you solve some puzzles when it comes to buying shoes, but also eliminate some of the excuses that you had ready “thanks to” your flat feet. Don’t let anything discourage you, and get on the way to the best you possible. Good luck!
Hey! My name is Paul Sheldon. I live in Nashville, TN and I love all things related to sports. Naturally I love workking out and I do it every day. If you want to talk feel freee to hit me a message or if you happen to be in Nashville we can get a coffee, I know a great place. Peace!