Fleet feet, or feet with a very minimal arch are a common problem for runners, and one that often results in overpronation. Fortunately, the problem isn’t as much of an issue as some people make it out to be, and it’s barely a problem at all when addressed with the right type of running shoes and physical exercises.

As a flat-footed runner, it’s likely that your ankles experience quite a bit of side-to-side motion during running, which can lead to ankle and knee injuries more commonly. To help reduce the chance for problems to develop, it’s important to choose the right type of shoes, especially for trail running conditions where the surfaces aren’t going to be nice and flat all the time.

We’re going to go over some of the very best trail running shoes on the market for flat footed runners. These shoes are designed with extra stability features designed to help even out your stride, remove the tendency to overpronate and help prevent injuries over time.

The right shoe won’t be the same for everyone, but this selection should offer something good for most trail runners out there looking to prevent future injuries while getting the most out of every run.

What to Look for in Trail Running Shoes

  • Interior Support: A flat-footed runner has the tendency to overpronate, or roll their foot inward while running. A good shoe to help battle this issue will have foam padding on the inside part of the foot, to reduce this rolling. Shoes with this padding are often known as stability shoes.
  • Stiffer Sole: Running shoes tend to be very flexible in nature, but as a runner with flat feet, you’re looking for a bit more support than what traditional running shoes can offer. That’s why it’s important to try and choose a shoe with a stiffer sole in most cases.
  • Deep Tread: Any good trail shoe needs to come equipped with nice deep treads, preferably that vary in size and shape throughout the sole. Only really major tread is going to offer reliable grip when running through mud, dirt, gravel and other loose or uneven surfaces that trails offer.
  • Wide Shoe Design: As a runner with flat or mostly flat feet, more of your foot is pressing down into the bottom of the shoe. For this reason, it’s important for that bottom to be a bit wider to help you remain comfortable. Trail shoes should also come equipped with a wider toe box, because some swelling often occurs on trail runs.
  • Thick Upper Construction: Trail shoes sacrifice a bit of breathability in order to provide the necessary protection from more rugged or harsh running conditions. Look for a shoe with a thick upper that doesn’t rely on much mesh to ensure that you get the protection necessary. If using mesh, try to pick a product that uses a finer design for enhanced debris screening.


Salomon Men’s Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoe

The Best Trail Running Shoes for Flat Feet

Salomon is a big name in trail running shoes and there is a lot to love about the Speedcross 3 as a flat-footed trail runner. One thing that I noticed almost immediately is how wide this shoe is. My feet feel constricted in most standard running shoes, and that was not the case in these, they offered adequate space in the toe box and the upper.

There is minimal arch support in this shoe, which is actually a good thing for me and likely many flat-foot runners because stiff arch support can be painful when you don’t have much of an arch.

The shoe comes in a wide range of colors, and features a unique zig-zag pattern that stands out nicely. It also features a breathable mesh that actually works well at keeping debris out of the shoes thanks to finer construction. The upper isn’t as durable as a solid material would be, but it’s a good compromise of protection and breathability.

The Salomon Speedcross 3 also comes with a lace-free system that helps prevent tripping on serious trails and it features nice deep tread that grips well on most surfaces. Overall it’s a good solid trail-running shoe for those with flat-feet that like a bit more width in the shoe, but it doesn’t feature much stability support for runners that suffer ankle or knee issues.


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Adidas Performance Men’s Thrasher 1.1 M Trail Running Shoe

adidas Performance Men's Thrasher 1.1 M Trail Running

The Adidas Performance thrasher shoe is a solid mid-level trail running shoe for those with flat feet. One of the most notable features of this shoe is its excellent support and comfort. It’s a snug-fitting product and runs small for its size, but this product is exceedingly comfortable.

It features a durable rubber made from a compound known as ADIWEAR that’s supposed to wear more slowly than a standard sole. The shoe comes with an aggressive tread pattern with a mixture of grooves and bumps for added gripping power over varied terrain. The shoes will handle sand, mud, grass and a mix of the three just fine.

Unlike many running shoes with steep arch support, this product offers minimal support in the arch, making it much more comfortable for those with flat feet. The EVA midsole adds a layer of cushion to walking and running strides, helping to minimize shock and really make a difference on harsher running surfaces. Just make sure that you order at least a half-size larger than you are used to, because it runs small, even for a running shoe.

It comes with a pretty standard black and silver design, and looks similar to a pair of football cleats.


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New Balance Men’s MT410V4 Trail Running Shoe

The Best Trail Running Shoes for Flat Feet

New Balance is a well-known name in the running world, and while New Balance shoes are typically good all-around running shoes, the Men’s MT410V4 Trail-Running shoe is particularly well-suited for use off the beaten path. The shoe sports aggressive tread, a less breathable upper and decent mid-foot support for added protection on uneven surfaces.

The ghillie lacing loops provide a nice firm hold that doesn’t loosen up during an important run. That makes these shoes excellent for difficult terrain or use during races. They are a bit on the heavier side though, and weigh about as much as a standard sneaker, while not quite as much as a trainer does.

The synthetic upper is thick and offers excellent support from the midfoot all the way back to the heel of the foot. The midsole of the shoe is padded just enough with IMEVA gives a nice cushy feel while walking or running, but leaves the foot feeling supported and stable.

While this New Balance model carries the standard styling that you’ll see on many other New Balance shoes, it’s clear almost immediately that this is a trail-specific shoe thanks to the heavy tread it’s equipped with. The outsole is fitted with a bunch of rubber spikes and notches, all designed to cut into dirt, mud and grass and offer excellent traction.

The shoes are known for being particularly stable in some nasty running conditions, and they can be counted on for good starting and stopping power without too much slippage. These trail runners fit las expected, and offer a stable and comfortable run that’s well-suited to those with flat feet.


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Mizuno Wave Kazan Trail Running Shoe

Mizuno Men's Wave Kazan Trail Running Shoe

While looking at this shoe from the side it appears to have a flatter tread pattern than many trail-specific shoes do, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, the Mizuno Wave Kazan trail shoe has one of the most aggressive treads of any that we’ve overviewed.

A series of protruding small “X” shaped tread patterns enhance grip up front, while major grooves cover the whole lower tread, creating some intricate wave patterns designed to grab onto most running surfaces and to handle loose material well. The aggressive tread pays off with excellent gripping power on any trail.

The Wave model shoes from Mizuno all feature the intricate wave styling that makes them stand out and look highly modern. They feature very little arch support, and they can be a little tight up front. They come with a stretchy upper that molds nicely to wider feet and they are lightweight enough for use in races. Overall the Mizuno Wave Kazan trail running shoes are a good comfortable option that will.


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Best Minimalist Choice

Merrell Men’s Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe

Merrell Men's Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe

One of the main reasons that runners with flat feet have a hard time running over long distances is because they’ve never built up the foot strength necessary to do so. Highly supportive shoes offer comfort and relief for a flat-footed runner, but they also prevent the natural process for strengthening the feet.

Every runner that suffers from flat feet or over pronation, should consider going with a minimalist shoe such as the Merrell Vapor Glove Trail. Minimalist shoes don’t offer much ankle or arch support. Instead they allow the foot to function naturally during a run.

The Vapor Glove from Merrell is a good option for flat footed runners that like to go off roads onto grass, gravel and other hilly surfaces. It offers a decent amount of traction on its rubber sole. The tread isn’t very deep, but its aggressive enough to grab in most conditions, though it’s not that great in loose material compared to some of the other shoes reviewed here.

When buying this lightweight shoe, keep in mind that you’ll want to take it out for short runs first, and should switch off with a more supportive option when going for longer distances. The shoe also runs a bit big, so consider picking up a half size smaller than what you’re used to.


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Women’s Trail Running Shoes

Salomon XR Mission Running Shoe

Salomon Women's XR Mission Running Shoe

These Salomon XR Mission shoes are a good middle-of-the road running product for trails. They offer a medium level of cushion and support, while remaining lightweight. The mid-sole is a comfortable foam product, but it’s minimal compared to many other products on the market.

The upper is a highly breathable mesh material that’s tough enough to fend off most sticks and rocks, but still allows the foot to remain cool and comfortable.

The Salomon XR mission trail shoe works well on all types of conditions. Snow, gravel, sand, grass, dirt and mud, the shoe doesn’t care. That’s thanks to the exceptional tread pattern that it has. The tread is highly aggressive with noticeable spikes coming off all along the length of the shoe.

There’s also a few nearly flat sections for added grip on smooth running surfaces. I wouldn’t recommend running on paved surfaces with these shoes because they’ll wear out faster, but they create a good gripping surface on most any running surface.

One issue that a runner with flat feet may run into while using this shoe is all the arch support. It’s seriously arched and could cause a bit of discomfort if you have really low arches. With that said, the shoe is pretty flexible and some flat-footed users claim that it is quite comfortable.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the shoe runs a little big. Many runners buy a full size or a half size down and note that this makes the shoe more comfortable. If you do buy down sizes there will be a longer break in period before the shoe becomes comfortable, but it will offer a more snug and supportive fit.


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Asics Venture 4 Gel Running Shoe

ASICS Women's GEL-Venture 4 Running Shoe

The Asics Venture 4 running shoe is a good mix of trail and street running in one. The outsole is mostly smooth with grooves and pattern variations to help maintain traction on several mild running conditions, but right down the middle of the forefoot there are tread protrusions that up traction in loose dirt, gravel and mud notably. They don’t offer as much grip in loose conditions as other trail shoes with more aggressive tread, but they are certainly capable.

She upper is a breathable mesh material that offers decent protection while keeping feet comfortable, and the laces stay nice and tight over the course of a run.

As a wider shoe, the Venture is a good fit for flat feet that need that added space for comfort. Buyers might find themselves going down a half size or a full size from what they are used to, because of the wider fit.

This is a neutral shoe that won’t fix over-pronation, but it’s a good solid option for runners after they learn to run with good form. These Asics aren’t for extreme trail runners, but women looking for a value shoe that offers trail and smooth performance will really love this product.


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Best Minimalist Choice

Merrell Vapor Barefoot Running Shoe

Merrell Women's Vapor Glove 2 Barefoot Trail Running Shoe

Runners looking to pick up a good solid minimalistic shoe should take a look at the Vapor Glove 2 by Merrell. It’s our top pick for a woman’s minimalist shoe, because it offers exceptional comfort and grip without all the extras that a standard running shoe gives you.

The outer sole of the Vapor 2 comes with a series tread bumps that Merrell calls lugs. These lugs offer a deep enough pattern to create traction in loose material, but they are close enough together to hold steady on a smooth surface, much like a tire on a car. Overall these lugs do a good job at maintaining traction and flexibility at the same time, unlike some of the thicker outsoles.

These women’s Vapor shoes come extra wide, making them comfortable for runners with flat feet, but the laces work well to control the overall width, allowing you to shape them to your feet a bit. The shoes are pretty versatile thanks to the good lace system, making them functional for a range of feet.

These shoes, like any minimalist shoe, will take some getting used to. Flat feet tend to have weaknesses, especially if they’re supported all the time with a heavier shoe.

That’s why it’s important to take these shoes slow if you aren’t used to them. Wear them for short runs or walks at first and slowly expand your distance as your foot strength grows.


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New Balance WT610V4 Trail Shoe

New Balance Women's WT610V4 Trail Shoe

The New Balance Women’s WT510V4 trail shoe is a reliable product for hiking and trail running. It comes equipped with a springy midsole that absorbs impacts from running or jumping, and that offers just enough cushioning.

The shoe also has a heavily textured outsole that offers exceptional gripping power in rough conditions. On trails while going through grass, mud, gravel and just about anything that’s not a smooth paved surface, these shoes hold like glue. That’s because the tread is deep and heavily grooved.

The upper is made from a synthetic breathable webbing material that flexes nicely creating a snug grip that hugs the foot.

This product from New Balance offers a good blend of support and comfort, creating stable running conditions from just about type of surface that you might want to take on. These shoes run a bit small so consider moving up a half size. You’ll be more comfortable that way, especially if you have flat feet that are a bit wider.


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Merrell Access Arc 4 Trail Running Shoe

Merrell Women's Bare Access Arc 4 Trail Running Shoe

Runners considering getting into minimalist running, but who aren’t fully committed yet should consider the Merrell Women’s Access Arc 4 trail running shoe. These shoes are low profile, they offer minimal support and a 0 heel to toe drop. They are designed to provide a good solid grip, and rely on a Vibram lug-pattern outsole to do so.

Most of the upper is made from a highly breathable mesh that makes these shoes particularly good in hot running conditions. The only downside is that the mesh lets in a lot of fine grit and sand, making these a poor choice for beach running.

These Arc 4 trail running shoes have an attractive profile and look much more appealing than most of the low-profile minimalist shoes on the market today. They come in a range of colors, making it easy for you to pick the one that you prefer.

It’s hard to pass up this shoe if you want to run off roads while being comfortable. They’re lightweight, stylish, grippy and very comfortable, and they’re good for people looking to build up valuable foot strength for more stable running.

Just be prepared to get dirty with each use, and consider swapping out with another running shoe with additional support to give your feet a break initially if you’ll be running multiple times a week.


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Tips to Avoid Over-Pronating

While running or walking, the foot turns in toward the inside of your body and rolls inward. This is known as pronation. It’s an important process for moving comfortably and properly. Unfortunately many people pronate too much, and actually cause stress to their joints, discomfort and potentially injuries.

This commonly occurs because of flat feet. There are some simple things that you can do to reduce the problem though.

Here’s a quick breakdown to help improve your stride and reduce discomfort while walking or running.

  • Perform over pronation BOSU training exercises
  • Use Yoga for arch strengthening
  • Work with a physical therapist to identify proper neutral ankle positioning
  • Train with minimalist shoes
  • Consider a custom orthotic insert

For those considering yoga or stretching before or after running, you can find all types of products to make this body-preparation easier, from yoga mats for sweaty hands to foam or cork yoga blocks.


Sources & Further Reading

  1. Our Story, Merrell
  2. History of ASICS
  3. Leveling with Flat Feet, Ken McAlpine, Runner’s World