The Best Walking Shoes for Flat Feet of 2024, Tested by Real People

Crush your step goals with our favorites from Dr

Published Time: 14.05.2024 - 16:31:19 Modified Time: 14.05.2024 - 16:31:19

Crush your step goals with our favorites from Dr. Scholl's, Skechers, Merrell, and more

In This Article

Flat feet is a common condition marked by low or flat foot arches that can cause pain or discomfort in the absence of supportive footwear. Supportive walking shoes that cushion flat arches and stabilize the foot and ankle are key to comfort, though more specific shoe features depend on the nature of your flat feet.

Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Meredith Warner says that a spacious toe box allows the muscles in the foot to engage the toes, which act as secondary stabilizers and help the foot push off during walking.

Our team understands the woes of flat feet and we were eager to lace up (or slip into) nearly two dozen pairs of walking shoes. The best walking shoes for flat feet we tested were rated high for their arch support, motion control, stability, cushioning, and roomy toe box.

From the very first time we laced them up, we were impressed by the Keen Versacore Speed Shoe. We’ve experienced arch pain with other shoes, but these were pain-free because of the roomier toe box and ample arch support. In fact, we thought at first that the toe bed was too wide, but after wearing these shoes out on a full day of errands, we realized the extra room was what made these shoes so comfortable.

After different activities on a variety of different terrains (even hiking!), we found them to be comfortable in every scenario. At the end of a long day on our feet, our ankles and arches felt great — something we haven’t been able to say with other shoes. Our joints were also happy thanks to good shock absorption in the sole.

Size Range: 5–12 | Material: Lightweight performance mesh upper, breathable mesh lining, non-marking rubber outsole | Colors: 5

The Carly Arch Support Sneakers from Aetrex exceeded our expectations. These sneakers fit like a glove, providing comfortable support in all the right places. Unlike other supportive shoes that feel stiff and heavy, they felt light and comfortable.

Our tester walked all over town without any wobble or joint pain, and the shock absorption was so good that they couldn’t feel the difference between different types of terrain. The arch aligned perfectly with our tester’s, and a pair of thicker socks solved the issue of their heels slightly sliding around in the initial wear.

Size Range: 5–12, medium and wide | Material: Mesh upper, lightweight UltraSky midsole, rubber pods outsole | Fit: Size up if half size | Colors: 17

We found the Carly fit true to size after following the sizing guide. However, if you have a narrow foot, we recommend sizing down for a snugger fit in the heel.

Plantar fasciitis is another painful foot condition that can compound flat feet issues. The Aetrex Danika is a game-changer for those (like us!) who seek relief from both. They were comfortable right from the start and the arch support aligned with our feet for a supportive fit; we recommend ordering your typical size.

In addition to plantar fasciitis, our tester’s right foot tends to turn in — but not when wearing these shoes. In fact, the shoes stabilized the knees and ankles and provided excellent shock support. There’s a curve on the sole that makes it easy to transition between surfaces — no stumbles happened while testing these sneakers. We did notice that the shoe was a bit stiff at first and tends to slip at the heel, but it didn’t result in any blisters or chafing.

Size Range: 5–12 | Material: Mesh upper, lightweight UltraSky midsole, rubber pods outsole | Fit: True to size | Colors: 12

Our expectant tester now has two things to look forward to: cuddling a new baby and adding more Kizik shoes to her closet.  She loves the Kizik Milan and was surprised to find that the Irvine is even better, with no break-in period and plenty of breathing room

After wearing the shoes for more than eight hours (including a workout session), no pain or discomfort was experienced. The shoe’s midsole is firm yet flexible, the toe box is roomy and cushioned, and the shoes felt stable and supportive without squeezing the feet.

Size Range: 6–13 women’s, 4.5–15 men’s, standard and wide | Material: Stretch canvas or leather trim | Fit: Consider going a half size up | Colors: 7

Our tester (who has wide, flat feet and bunions) appreciated the cute, chunky look of the Merrell Moabs. The alignment was good overall; there was no chafing or squeezing during wear nor slipping heels. However, they are a bit short in the toe box, so if you have wide feet or bunions, we recommend sizing up a half size.

Where these shoes really shine is in their durability; they looked as good as new after testing. They’re also easy to wipe off and they don’t retain any odor. Most importantly, our tester’s arches never hurt after wearing them and joints were pain-free at the end of the day. The thicker sole offered good traction to keep feet stable and strides smooth. 

Size Range: 5–11 | Material: Nylon ripstop and TPU upper, recycled laces, recycled mesh lining, recycled mesh footbed cover, recycled removable EVA footbed | Fit: Size up a half size if you have wide feet or bunions | Colors: 6

We’ve grown accustomed to putting inserts in our shoes to combat the aches and pains of flat feet, which is why the stylish look of these Mary Jane wedges from Naturalizers stopped us in our tracks.

The rubbery wedge made it easy to move in these shoes; we even liken them to character shoes that stage performers wear — not only because of the strap but also because of the comfort and stability they need to dance and move across the stage.

Arches were well supported, and the heels fit snugly without slipping. No blisters, either, which is enough of a reason to slip into these heels for work or going out. Despite the platform wedge that offered decent shock support, we still felt a bit fatigued after wearing them for hours; such are heels. Still, we felt quite comfortable on concrete and hard surfaces, though we’d keep off grass and softer surfaces to protect our ankles.

Size Range: 5–12 | Material: Synthetic upper | Fit: Size up half a size | Colors: 4 -

If you want a walking shoe that’s not a sneaker, know that we were impressed by these Naturalizer loafers. Even with wider feet, they fit like a glove. The arch support aligned nicely and our tester experienced no slipping heels, but they did have some chafing; it took a few wears before they were fully broken in. 

Although they aren’t as stable as sneakers, they felt secure with every step. Even though they have a lighter, softer construction (and flexible sole), we still felt they offer adequate shock support on various terrains.

Size Range: 5–12, medium and wide | Material: Metallic synthetic or woven synthetic upper | Fit: True to size | Colors: 4

To slip on these shoes is to slip into immediate comfort. Although these do come with arch inserts, we removed them because the regular arch support felt just fine for our needs. Toes had plenty of room; in fact, the toe box might have been a little too roomy for our tester. Still, these shoes stayed firmly in place without chafing or rubbing — no blisters to worry about here. 

Even after a long walk, our knees felt good the next day, which is evidence of strong shock support. Curved sole made transitioning between different surfaces easy and kept our tester’s feet stable. There’s lots of cushioning in the soles, though not in the tongue. 

We do wish the laces had a bit more stretch to them, but the shoes didn’t exhibit any noticeable wear and tear during the testing period, and we were also glad to see (or smell) no lingering odor.

Size Range: 5–12, narrow to XX wide | Material: Synthetic | Fit: True to size | Colors: 5

The Hannah from Dr. Scholl’s had impressive movement control. We’ve experienced overpronation with other shoes, but our ankles, feet, and knees remained stable in these. Thanks to those cushiony inserts, the shoes offer great shock support. The midsole was firm and thick, and the arch is quite padded but not high enough to cause any discomfort.

The Hannah provides a snug, comfy fit even without laces. We found the arch higher than what we’re used to, but not uncomfortably so. Our heel stayed in place and our toes had ample wiggle room — no chafing or blisters to report here, even though this has been par for the course with other shoes. There was a noticeable spring in our step thanks to those cushioned insoles, especially on pavement.

Size Range: 6–11 | Material: Microfiber upper partially made from recycled plastic bottles | Fit: True to size | Colors: 2

We like a shoe that offers comfort and style, which is why the Skechers Arch Fit Arcade made our list. Our tester with overpronation wore these for everyday walking but also clocked over 20,000 steps per day on a four-day trip to Paris. They ordered half a size up to accommodate their wider feet and though it was comfortable, their regular size likely would have fit fine. 

Still, the arch support was excellent and in good alignment, without heel slipping, chafing, or blisters. Even though they ran these shoes ragged on two continents, you couldn’t tell except for some dirt — it is a white sneaker, after all.

Size Range: 5–13, medium and wide | Material: Canvas upper | Fit: True to size | Colors: 4

No need to sweat dirty sneakers when the ones on your feet are machine washable. And there’s no need to forgo comfort for convenience when you lace up the Vivaia V Prime Sneakers. These were comfortable right out of the box with no break-in period. Our arches felt supported and the heel fits snugly without any worry of blisters. 

We liked the stylish design and sole of these sneakers. The stretchy knit fabric allowed for more room in the toe box than our narrow feet needed, but it didn’t get in the way of the overall comfort; you just might consider sizing down if you have a narrow foot. The stretchy knit construction is still quite supportive, and we found there was just the right amount of cushioning, shock support, and stability. 

Size Range: 5–13.5 | Material: 100% recycled yarn, and recycled elastic laces | Fit: Size down if you have narrow feet | Colors: 10

To find the best walking shoes for flat feet, our testers with flat feet and other conditions like overpronation and plantar fasciitis, tried out 23 pairs of shoes from some of the top brands on the market, including Keen, Aetrex, Naturalizer, Merrell, and more. Over a total of 1,472 hours, we walked, hiked, ran errands, and otherwise went about our active lives on a daily basis while wearing these shoes to find which ones offered the best in the following categories:

While we did give bonus points for style and value for the price, our final selections overall reduced or eliminated the discomfort from flat feet, plantar fasciitis, and other foot woes.

Barbara Bellesi Zito is a freelance lifestyle writer who also happens to have flat feet and understands the discomfort of sore foot arches after a long day wearing unsupportive shoes. For this piece, she analyzed the insights of our PEOPLE Tested team regarding arch support, motion control, and shock absorption, which she will keep in mind for her next shoe haul. Barbara also consulted Dr. Meredith Warner, a Louisiana-based orthopedic surgeon.

We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.

But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.

In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.

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