PowerliftingTechnique.com is independent and supported by our readers. We may earn a commission if you buy through the links below. For more, see our disclosures page.
I have a bunch of friends who have flat feet. I’ve seen them struggle with their condition in the gym a lot. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Flat feet aren’t something that you should just accept and live with.
Aside from treatment, choosing the right squat shoes can drastically improve your workout.
My recommended shoe for people with flat feet is the Nike Romaleos 3 XD (click for availability and today's price on Rogue FItness). They feature excellent arch support, tight-fit construction, and highly durable material.
Want to know my other recommendations? Keep reading. We’ll explore the 5 best squat shoes for flat feet in detail. Let’s begin!
Do You Have Flat Feet?
Before deciding on whether you have it, we have to make sure you understand the basic anatomy of normal and flat feet.
I know what you’re thinking, we’re back to the boring biology class. But this is not the case here. I’m going to illustrate this in the simplest way possible. It’s important to understand the condition before you can correct it.
Think about your foot as two big masses: the heel and the forefoot. These two masses are connected with muscles and ligaments.
In normal feet, these muscles and ligaments should form an arch or space in the inner part of your foot.
This space allows the two masses to slightly move when you apply force. Hence, this arch resembles a spring or a shock absorber.
Flat feet, on the other hand, don't have such an arch. This may be due to weak muscles and ligaments or collapsed feet and ankle bones.
How to Diagnose Yourself
I tried to simplify things so everyone would understand, but it’s not always that straight forward. Having flat feet can originate from different bones, muscles, and ligaments. It can permanently appear on your feet or manifest only during activity.
Therefore, if you want to reach a definite diagnosis, you’d have to visit a podiatrist.
However, there’s an easy test that you can do to reach a quick diagnosis. To start, get your feet wet. Then stand with your full weight on a flat surface that would show your footprint, like a concrete walkway.
Now, look at your footprint. You should see the heel, the forefoot, and a strip connecting them. In normal feet, the strip should be roughly half the width of the forefoot. If the strip has nearly the same width as the forefoot, then you probably have flat feet.
Risks Of Squatting With Flat Feet
In addition to the irritating discomfort, squatting with flat feet can be bad for your body. How? Let’s see.
Absence of Shock Absorption
As I mentioned above, the feet arches provide a room in which your feet can move to absorb some of the applied forces.
Therefore, squatting with flat feet will load nearly all the force on your knees, hips, and back. This doesn’t only cause pain, but it can also lead to injuries in the long run.
Improper Leg Alignment
The absence of a foot arch can be caused by the collapse of foot and ankle bones. And what happens if a bone collapses? The one next to it will either move or also collapse, just like a domino row.
Therefore, the flat feet will force the tibia bone, aka the shin bone, to move and slightly rotate. This causes a torque in your knees, hips, and back. Medically, this is known as over-pronation.
That’s why the podiatrist might prescribe orthotics to treat your flat feet. They provide arch support that lifts the collapsed feet bones back into place, which subsequently corrects the alignment of the tibia.
5 Best Squat Shoes for Flat Feet
I’ve done the boring research for you. In this section, we’ll see how every pair can affect your squat mechanics and suit your flat feet.
After Nike released the original Romaleos 3, it received numerous positive reviews in terms of function, especially for flat feet. However, they had some issues with their construction material.
That’s why Nike released the XD edition, short for extra durability. They used a thicker leather material for the upper, which increased the overall weight by 1-2 ounces.
Although some people complain about the added weight, I personally like how the extra weight cements your feet to the ground, even by the least amount.
They also made the tongue thicker with heavier stitching. I extremely appreciate this because it was so frustrating to spend almost $200 on shoes and end up with a torn tongue after a couple of months.
The last change in this edition is in the support strap buckle. They replaced the weak plastic material with a sturdy metal that enables you to get that tightest fit possible.
Aside from this, the XD edition has the same features as the original model. They feature a solid insole with arch support, firm 0.75” TPU heel, and my favorite, the Flywire technology.
- Premium durability
- Arch support
- Flywire technology
- 0.75” heel height
Inov-8 has replaced the traditional laces and velcro support strap with the adjustable BOA locks. This technology features a micro-dial that tightens strong, lightweight wires around the shoe and the support straps through low-friction lace guides.
Why is this great for flat feet? Well, this allows you to fine-tune the fit with the least effort. All you have to do is rotate the BOAs back and forth until you’re satisfied. This gives the needed support for your feet and ankle bones to prevent their collapse.
Inov-8 designed the heel with their special Power-Truss technology. They used the regular TPU but in the form of hollow tubes instead of a solid mass. This gives the same firm sole but at a much lighter weight.
It has an effective height of 0.65”, which will make it easier to wear if you’re trying weightlifting shoes for the first time.
The only thing that I don’t like about them is the thin material around the midfoot. Yes, it provides a good grip, but it doesn’t feel that comfortable.
- BOA lock system
- Power-Truss TPU heel
- 0.65” heel height
- Thin midfoot material
Since flat feet is commonly associated with wide feet, the Reebok’s legacy lifters are among the most comfortable options you can purchase.
Thanks to their ultra-wide toe box, your feet can achieve the maximum toe splay to claw your feet to the ground and achieve the best force transfer.
Moreover, they give an unmatched heel and ankle support through a rubber frame that encircles the heel area. Reebok calls this Exoframe technology.
The upper is mainly constructed from thick leather that promotes rigidity and fit. The toe box has small ventilation holes that significantly increase the breathability.
To enhance the breathability even more, both of the heel area and the tongue are constructed from nylon mesh.
These shoes feature double support straps. One is placed over the midfoot area and the other over the balls of the feet. But what I really like about them is how they run in opposite directions. This way, you’ll feel that your feet and shoes are tied together like one solid unit.
The heel is made from regular hard TPU that has a height of 0.75”. There is also a women's powerlifting shoe option, which was recommended as my #1 pick for female lifters.
- Wide toe box
- Exoframe technology
- Durable thick rubber construction
- Double support straps
- 0.75” heel height
- Slightly expensive
I personally recommend that you invest in shoes that are completely dedicated to lifting. This allows for the longest durability and, consequently, a consistent function.
However, if you’re restricted on budget, you can purchase cross-training shoes. Inov-8 Fastlift 360 are among the most versatile shoes out there. They can be used for lifting as well as most of the other exercises in the gym like jumping, burpees, etc.
What makes them that versatile? Their remarkably low weight. These shoes weigh 12.7 ounces only. The secret lies in how the sole is designed. It’s made from regular TPU but in the shape of hollow tubes instead of a solid mass, just like the 370 model.
The main difference between this model and the 370 is the absence of the BOA system. They have regular strong laces with a single velcro support strap over the midfoot.
If you flip the shoes over, you’ll find that the forefoot is separated from the rest of the outsole by a flexible band with “Meta-Flex” written over it. This allows the forefoot to bend without compromising the overall rigidity of the sole.
- Versatile cross-training shoes
- Power-Truss TPU heel
- Easy to move around with Meta-Flex technology
- Somewhat expensive compared to other cross-trainers
If you have wide feet and the Reebok’s Legacy Lifters are out of your budget limit, consider the Powerlift 3.1 from Adidas.
They have a similarly wide toe box with thick leather construction for the upper. The material is especially thicker near the heel area, which is extremely beneficial in supporting the ankle of people with flat feet.
One of the main differences between the 3.1 model and the previous ones is in the support strap. Adidas increased its thickness and length to make it tighter around your feet.
Don’t get me wrong, though. It doesn’t have a flexible nature like running shoes. But it doesn’t feel as supportive under heavier weights. Then again, considering the price, this is pretty acceptable.
- Wide toe box
- Good ankle support
- Thick and long support strap
- EVA sole
What To Look For In Squat Shoes For Flat Feet
Shopping for a pair that truly fits your flat feet can be tricky. Especially with every brand claiming that their product is the best.
Ditch all the salesy words. The proper shoes for flat feet should have 3 properties: arch support, a wide toe box, and ankle support.
Moreover, if this is the first time you’re purchasing squat shoes, there are other general requirements that you should consider.
As we established in the first part of this article, flat feet can be caused by collapsed feet and ankle bones. This collapse causes the shin bone to move and rotate out of its place, causing problems in knees and hips.
Therefore, the shoes you’ll purchase should have arch support that pushes the collapsed bones back into their places. This way, the shin bone can restore its original alignment.
Arch support could be a built-in feature in the shoe midsole, and it can also be provided through standalone insoles. I personally prefer the former as it has the highest durability.
However, since flat feet differ in their grade between people, brands construct their shoes with minimal to moderate arch support. This way, you can conveniently buy orthotic insoles to exactly tailor the fit to your needs.
The only problem with such inserts is their inherent flexibility. Its cushioning effect is good for running to dampen the forces and protect your knees.
However, when it comes to weightlifting, you’d want a hard sole to support your feet. Therefore, when you squat, no force is dissipated at the cushioning material.
Related Article: Best Squat Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis. If you suffer from this condition, check out my reviews of the shoes that may help mitigate pain.
Wide Toe Box
When your feet bones collapse, they add additional width to your feet. Hence, you’d want shoes that offer a wide toe box.
The toe box is the most anterior part of a shoe, extending from the last shoelace to the tip of the shoe.
Obviously, having a wide toe box that gives room for your feet to extend will enhance the comfort. But this isn’t the only benefit.
A wide toe box is essential to achieve one of the most important squat requirements, the tripod effect. If you’re not sure what this means, check the next section of this article.
As we established, the suitable squat shoes must allow your forefeet to assume additional width. But when it comes to the ankles, it shouldn’t allow any movement so as to prevent their collapse.
This can be achieved through three features: the strap support, the upper material, and the high-top design.
1. Strap Support
Nearly all brands equip their weightlifting shoes with a velcro strap to hold your feet in place with the laces. It’s usually placed over the midfoot. Some brands add another one over the balls of the feet to increase the support.
I know what you’re thinking, how does a midfoot strap support the ankle? Yes, it doesn’t directly support it. But it ensures that your feet don’t move at all when you’re lifting heavy loads. This, in return, ensures that your heel is supported and protected against any jerky movement.
2. Upper Material
Running shoes usually have nylon mesh around the heel and ankle. While this is great for providing the breathability needed for running, it lacks the support needed for weightlifting.
Thus, you’d want your shoes to have firmer material, like leather, around your heel and ankle.
3. High-Top Design
This makes sense, right? The more material there’s around your ankle, the more support it’s going to provide.
However, this may impair your dorsiflexion to some extent. So this is left to your personal judgment.
How To Maintain Your Foot Arch While Squatting
Although the right squat shoes will make it easier to squat with flat feet, they aren’t everything. There are things you should do yourself to maintain proper feet arch.
Claw the Floor (Tripod Effect)
To achieve the best squat, your feet must grip the floor with three points: the heel, the base of the pinky, and the base of the big toe.
This position evenly distributes the force over your feet. Hence, it stabilizes your stance and maintains the barbell near your midfoot.
This is especially important for people with flat feet. This position forces the intrinsic muscles of the feet to activate, which puts the ankle in a neutral position.
Moreover, screwing your feet to the ground, activates your glutes and knee muscles. Therefore, you’ll squat with open hips and knees tracked over toes, which are crucial if you want to reach the deepest squat possible.
If you have flat feet, then check out my article on How To Deadlift With Flat Feet where I give you 4 technique tips.
Relieve Tight Muscles
Lack of shock absorption in flat feet puts extra load on your muscles, especially those of your feet and calves. Relieving the tension in these muscles is the first step toward building healthy feet arches.
Strengthen Weak Muscles
As we stated, weak muscles and ligaments are among the main causes behind flat feet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I squat in flat shoes?
It depends on a lot of factors. In short, squat in flats if you:
- Have excellent ankle mobility
- Squat in a wide stance
- Have a short femur
- Have a wide pelvis
- Prefer low bar squats
Do flat feet affect squatting?
Yes. Collapsed foot arch causes the shin bone to move and rotate inward, which puts a lot of torque on your knees and hips. Adding weight while you squat in this situation puts your legs in a high risk of serious injuries. It can also cause you to squat with duck feet, which is where your toes flare excessively outward.
What brand of shoes has the best arch support for squatting?
It’s unlikely to see a brand that designs all of its shoes with arch support. Therefore, you have to search for individual models rather than a brand.
As I said in this article, Nike Romaleos 3 XD features the gold standard arch support for flat feet.
I wish this article helped you in understanding your condition. The right squat shoes will improve your squat mechanics and lower the risk of injuries.
I think that the best squat shoes for flat feet are the Nike Romaleos 3 XD. They have the same premium superior fit of the original model but with enhanced durability.
If you want a more budget-friendly option, consider the Inov-8 Fastlift 370. I like the BOA lock system they feature as it allows you to fine-tune the fit.
And lastly, flat feet can be correctable. Buying the right shoes is only the first step. Visit a podiatrist to explore your condition in detail.