Finding the right pair of sports shoes for your little ones is often easier said than done. When you add the fact that flat foot is a common condition for kids, things get even a little more complicated.
Yet, once you finally find the right pair, you’ll see how much of a difference it makes in fixing their overpronating stride. It’s definitely worth the hassle!
In this post, we go over a thorough guide on all you need to know to pick the best running shoes for kids with flat feet. Then we’ll analyze 11 of the top options out there for you to consider.
There are a lot of grounds to cover, so let’s jump right in!
How to Find the Best Running Shoes for Kids With Flat Feet
The issue with flat feet is that it affects the full posture beyond just which way your foot leans when you stand.
For instance, if you look at a child with collapsed arches, you’ll notice that their legs curve outwards, putting unnecessary pressure on the hip joints.
That’s all because the gap that should’ve remained empty under the arches is now taken over by the inner side of the foot.
You need to physically push back against this collapse.
As you might have guessed, arch support and heel counters will play a vital role, but there are even more factors to consider.
Let’s take a closer look at the features that make a great shoe for pediatric flat feet:
Soft Arch Support and Cushioning
Arch support for children is basically just a fake-it-till-you-make-it kind of a feature. You use an insert with a pump that creates an artificial arch till your kid develops his own.
You can tell if a shoe had enough arch support by looking at the insole. If it’s flat all the way through, it’s not good.
However, it’s important to note that children’s feet are more delicate than ours. So, you’ll want to look for an insole that still has some degree of cushioning to reduce the pain.
Keep in mind that if your kid’s physician has already decided that orthotics are the way to go, you’ll probably need to focus less on the insole that comes with the shoe.
Instead, look for something with a removable insole so that you can take it out and put it in the restricted orthotic insert. If it’s non-removable, you can go for half a size up to make some room.
Firm Heel Counter and Deep Cup
Arch support alone isn’t enough. You have to add a heel grip to make sure that the foot is supported from the mid-foot to the rear.
After all, that’s where all the overpronation happens!
This is why a firm heel counter is such a helpful feature to look for in your kids’ next pair of running shoes.
It’s even better if the heel cup is deep. This dip in the sole will act as a lock to hold the rear foot in place.
The sturdiness of the outsole construction can also give you an idea about how much stability your child will get from any given pair of running shoes.
Easy Yet Stable Closure
Most parents find velcro straps significantly easier to deal with. After all, teaching a kid how to tie laces can be quite the uphill battle.
However, you also need to keep in mind that velcro usually provides less stability than regular lace-up closures.
Plus, velcro straps tend to lose their grip after a while, too. So, you’ll have to pick a priority here.
We’d recommend going for ones with dual closures for smaller kids, then moving up to lacing only as they grow up a bit and work on their dexterity.
Ideally, the best running shoe for kids with flat feet should have a straight last. The last is the cut template that the entire sole is based on.
While this determines the width and size, it also factors into the degree of support and motion control.
The reason you want it to be straight is that you want to minimize the effect of overpronation that happens with collapsed arches by mechanically keeping the foot in a line.
Meanwhile, a last that curves a bit outwards will encourage the child to lean to the side. That’s very counterproductive when you’re trying to get your kid’s stride neutralized.
A common mistake that parents fall into often is mistaking support for rigidity, especially since kids might not be able to tell the difference themselves.
You can have a supportive shoe cut without having it too stiff.
What you need from a running shoe is a moderate level of flexibility. In this sense, it should bend slightly without being mushy.
If you try to bend it, it shouldn’t fall all the way in. Instead, it should only curve a little with some resistance left in the shoe’s body.
Convenient and Interesting Design
Other factors might not affect the shoe’s performance all that much, but they do matter for your child’s comfort and confidence.
Take the topline, for instance. Some people go on to claim that low-tops give runners an edge while high-tops are better for preventing ankle injuries in basketball.
While there’s no reason why a high-top might give any significant boost in injury prevention than a low-top, kids like them better.
Why? Well, they simply look cooler.
Remember that just because it’s a running shoe doesn’t mean that it should be dull. Let your kids enjoy what they’re wearing. This will help them grow a love for sports.
To help you navigate your way through your shoe-shopping journey, you’ll have to figure out the common sizing chart.
Besides the numbering system, manufacturers use age-labeling, including infant, toddler, little kid, and big kid.
For most retailers, the toddler shoe size runs from 4¼” to 6½”. Those are often referred to as “Tots” or denoted by the letter T. It usually fits 1-4-year-olds.
Then you move on to the little kid for 4-8-year-olds with a label starting from 6⅝ and up to 8½”.
Meanwhile, big kids’ numbers might restart numerically back to zero to suit 8-12 years, and they range from 8⅝” to 9¾”.
However, labeling and numerical values tend to be confusing. Just be careful around brand-specific sizing.
You might find it easier to measure your kid’s feet from toe to heel and at the widest part with a foot ruler. Then you can compare this to the manufacturer’s sizing chart.
The perfect fit to look forward to should be snug but not pinching. Remember that kids don’t always speak up, so ask specific questions to know if it squeezes or if there’s room to move.
Do All Kids Have Flat Feet?
You might have heard the belief that there’s no such thing as flat feet for kids since they all grow out of it eventually, but how true is that?
Pediatric flat feet are fairly common to the extent that they appear in 44% of children worldwide. This is usually because their bones are highly flexible and still haven’t taken their final form.
It’s all mostly asymptomatic, though. That’s why medical intervention at this age is extremely rare.
Plus, it can resolve on its own with time. As the child grows older, the arches should start increasing in height till they’re nine.
In only 15% of the cases, the fallen arches continue into adulthood. The rest will most likely get much better at around the age of six. These aren’t terrible odds at all!
So, until your child is over six years old, having flat feet is pretty normal. However, mentioning it to your physician during a check-up won’t hurt.
For now, and unless your kid is complaining of pain while walking or running, you don’t need to do more than just get them a comfortable shoe that accommodates their still-forming arches.
Quick Look: Best Running Shoes for Kids With Flat Feet
By now, you know what role the shoe will play in your kid’s bone development. You’ve also checked out the factors that should go into making your decision.
All that’s left is taking a pick. We’ve narrowed down your options to some of the best running shoes for kids with flat feet.
Let’s take a closer look!
ASICS is a renowned footwear brand that caters to making running safer, less painful, and more enjoyable. You can see this reflected in the quality and design here.
This shoe is more or less the kiddy version from the adult’s GT-1000 line. So, you’d expect to see the same gel technology cushioning system under the heel and mid-foot here, too.
But most importantly, it has adequate arch support and cushioned power to protect the underfoot. In fact, the last cut and soles are made to suit overpronators.
As a bonus, you also get a moisture-wicking and breathable sock liner insole to keep the stink and blistering away.
- Size ranges from 2.5 in the little kid label to 6.5 in the big kid group
- 6 sleek design options
- GEL technology cushioning on the rearfoot
- Duomax support for double the stability under the mid-foot
- Solid rubber outsole for extra traction
- Removable contoured ortholite X-40 liner
What People Say
The GT-1000 line’s suitability for pediatric flat feet didn’t go unnoticed by a lot of parents, from the heel cup to the contoured orthotic liner.
Unfortunately, you might not find a fit for wide and extra-wide feet. This running shoe mostly works for kids with narrow or regular last cuts.
If your child likes to stand out from the crowd, the Mosha Belle running shoes might be just what you’re looking for.
Your kid will probably like them since they’re unique and not the typical design you see on runners this age at all.
Thankfully, it also happens to be unisex!
It’s not all looks, either. The construction is very sturdy, with rubber grips on the soles. On the plus side, it’ll take some abuse on the playground.
On the flip-side, this also means that it’ll require some break-in period before the cut gets flexible enough.
Meanwhile, the mesh fabric is very breathable, but it’s not waterproof.
All in all, when you compare it to other items on the list, this one is actually on the affordable side.
- Size ranges from 1 in the little kid label to 6 in the big kid group
- 10 bold color options
- Anti-slip outsole
- Breathable mesh vamp
- Sturdy plastic sole with rubber grips
What People Say
Many parents found this pair a good fit for kids with wide feet. It’s overall comfortable and doesn’t press on the sides too much.
That said, you might end up having to buy a new set of laces. The ones that come with the original shoe are too short to function properly, especially for kids who struggle to tie their shoes.
Some of Nike’s releases are widely available, and it’s super easy to find the exact size you’re for, from a toddler to a full-grown adult. The Tanjun Low-Top sneaker is one of those.
While the insole is removable, you can just opt to lay any extra orthotics on top to cut the hassle.
Odds are, you won’t need it, anyway. Nike’s insoles are like walking on clouds with just the right amount of support.
That’s mainly thanks to the Phylon secondary molded EVA sole. It works wonders for runners (even the petite ones!) by offering cushioning and flexibility.
- Comes in a whopping 86 different sizes
- 73 color options from neutral grays to pink
- Phylon sole
- Minimalistic design with the Nike Swoosh logo on the side
- Breathable mesh upper fabric to reduce odors and heat
What People Say
While the cushioning here can help reduce flat foot pain, the arch support isn’t the best. People who prioritize had to install extra inserts.
Your kid will have to be a little gentler around the toe box. No more kicking rocks during running sessions with these shoes on!
The Pthann shoes are made with pediatric flat feet in mind. The arch support there should help in developing the arches and correct the heel Pes valgus in kids.
Most of the size range focuses on toddlers way more than it does on older kids.
You might think it’s too early at this age to worry about running shoes, but it’s better to work on the stride as early as possible. Plus, they’re super cute, anyway.
Another thing to love about this shoe is how lightweight the fabric is. It won’t weigh the tiny toddler’s feet down at all while they play around.
- Offered in 15 sizes from 2.5 in the tots’ group to 13 in the little kid label
- Comes in 7 color options
- Polyurethane sole for a soft arch support
- Deep heel cup helps to provide more stability in the heel area
- Two-way closure with elastic laces and reinforced velcro straps to increase the grip
What People Say
Most parents who bought this seemed to be interested in the arches’ development and found the shoe very supportive.
However, they can be snug for little kids with wide and chubby feet.
The Dream Pairs sneakers are a great fit for children with pediatric flat feet and a wide footwear cut.
Although the arch support isn’t impressive, the extra support on the toes and heels can make running much easier. In a way, they elevate some of the pressure off the fallen arches.
You might be able to get a snug fit with the elasticized laces along, especially if your kid has chubbier feet. It might not be ideal, though.
It’s not safe to let a child run with a strap flapping around since they could trip and fall. So, if the velcro gives out after a while, you’ll have to replace it.
- Size ranges from 8 on the toddler label to 6 for the big kid group
- Comes in 6 colors with contrasting accents
- Anti-collision toe box and heel cap
- Hook-and-loop closure for easier wearing and taking off
- Anti-slip textures MD outsole improves grip during running
What People Say
Although they are affordable shoes for kids with flat feet, they might not be the most durable options out there.
On the upside, many parents were psyched to see running shoes for big kids with velcro. It’s a rare find!
One of the top options to keep in mind for kids with wide feet and collapsed arches is the New Balance Kid’s 888 V2.
New balance, in general, has a lot of options that suit runners with flat feet, but the 888 V2 is just one of the most celebrated models.
It’s not hard to see why, though. It has adequate shock absorbance, enough arch support, and a tight closure system.
Just like many other New Balance sneakers, the Kid’s 888 V2 comes with a classic suede finish and the N logo on the side.
Not only does it look timeless and mature, but it’s also washable. You can just throw it for a quick cycle in the washing machine and call it a day!
- Ranges in size up to 12 years old
- Comes in 15 color options, from muted gray to bright pink
- Sleek design with 100% suede
- ABZORB technology in the midsole reduces the impact of shock and strides
- Available in extended width last to kids with extra wide feet
What People Say
Some parents found the construction very durable. They had to replace the pair only because their child outgrew them, but they were still in great shape.
However, they could run too small in some cases. So it’s better to check the exact sizing chart by inches.
Although it’s originally branded as a hiking sneaker, the Merrell Chameleon 7 makes for a good kid’s running shoe.
The arch support and mid-top are decent enough to reduce pain on the collapsed arches, but the cushioning is firmer than what you’d expect.
What you’ll probably love most about this is the sole grip. It holds the foot firmly in place without squishing the toe box. It even fits wide feet comfortably.
Since it’s made with long-hiking trails in mind, the Chameleon 7 can keep your kid’s flat feet comfortable for a moderate running session.
- Merrell releases the shoe from 1 on the little kid label to 7 on the big kid group
- 3 color variations (gray-blue, gray smoke, and berry)
- M-Select Dry lining technology to keep the feet damp-free
- Exterior fabric made of sturdy leather mesh
- Two-way closure with lace and velcro straps
What People Say
Some kids tend to get heel blisters with this shoe, though. That’s possibly because the inner seam is a little too rough, but it’s nothing a decent anti-blister sock won’t cover.
However, you’ll need to be careful around water puddles and rain since they aren’t 100% waterproof.
If you’re looking for something affordable and customizable, the Nynzia sneaker might work out for you.
Depending on the level of pediatric flat feet your child has, you can insert orthotics. This way, you get to adjust the arch support to your liking.
Just don’t expect much from the insole that comes with the shoe. For this price tag, the range of features is actually a good bargain.
- Size ranges between little kid’s 1 to big kid’s 7
- Offered in 18 styles between solid colors and camouflage
- Non-slip textured sole
- Heavy outsole construction to support the heel
- Minimalistic design with no external logos or markings
What People Say
One common complaint about this pair is how challenging the laces are. Since the elastic laces have to go through the holes in the plastic side piece, the closure can be too complicated for smaller kids who only just started tying up their own shoes.
However, some parents found that pre-tightening them works just fine. You adjust it yourself and then let your kid slip it on and off.
When it comes to cushioning, the Littleplum running shoe is often a pleasant surprise. The sole is a blend of memory foam and orthotics.
It might sound like it’d be soft and useless, but it’s actually sturdy and provides just enough support for the mid-foot.
Although the top-line is high, it’s made from a soft elastic to keep the blistering away. Your child might still need to break it in for optimal results.
Unfortunately, the majority of the designs can be too masculine for girls and even smaller boys. It would work nicely for teens, though.
- Comes in 21 sizes, from a toddler 8 to a big kid size 8
- The selection has 21 color options, ranging from black and blue to solid red
- Breathable mesh that reduces heat and dampness
- Lightweight and anti-slip MD elastic sole helps boost the grip on tough terrains
- Memory foam cushioning to support the arches
What People Say
Comfort is one of the common things people report about this pair, from the soft sock-like top to the cushioning.
Some parents even found that the Littleplum running shoe is also suitable for other activities, like basketball, tennis, or even casual use.
Unlike the GT-1000 series, the Gel-Contend 5 isn’t made with flat feet in mind. Instead, it’s somewhere between high and low arches.
However, it has adequate cushioning and adds a spring for runners. You can always use a separate orthotic insert if your kid needs the extra arch support and deeper heel cupping.
Overall, it’s a highly durable and stylish option. It’s only a shame that the original insole isn’t the best fit for collapsed arches.
- Size ranges for big kid labeling groups only (could fit a woman with petite feet)
- Comes in 6 color variations
- Synthetic EVA midsole and liner with high cushioning
- Molded internal heel counter to support the rearfoot
- Lightweight frame at only 7.55 oz
What People Say
When it comes to running shoes with good heel and arch support, it’s hard to argue about ASICS’ reputation. It’s comfortable, nicely built, and looks good.
With that said, one mom found that the brand new shoes might stain a bit on light-colored fabric, but it’s nothing that won’t clear up with a regular wash.
Ideally, we’d recommend the Arishi V2 Bungee running shoe for more casual running than for hardcore workouts. So, if your kid enjoys the occasional run but they still want footwear that looks athletic, this might be the one.
The bungee in the name comes from the closure system. Bungees are clipped no-tie (faux) lacing styles that, in theory, should provide the foot with enough elasticity and support.
Much like the 888 V2, this shoe also seems to run a little small, but it still works for kids with wide flat feet.
The outsole is mainly what makes it good for overpronation, but there isn’t much arch support here when compared to other New Balance sneakers.
- Coves sized for infants to 12 year-olds
- 38 design variations to choose from
- 50-50% synthetic textile and mesh fabric
- Lightweight injection-molded EVA foam midsole
- Bungee-style closure laces to add lateral support
What People Say
Many parents weren’t particularly impressed with the bungee closure system.
However, it did seem to work for other kids with flat feet with no complaints about comfort and fit. So, there’s probably a learning curve to it.
That’s a wrap on our guide. We hope it made finding the best running shoes for kids with flat feet a bit easier for you and your little ones.
The takeaway here is that you need to look for a foot with good mid-foot and heel support. Those two features are key to neutralizing an overpronating stride from flat feet.
Asides from that, you need to consider the closure stability, last cut, fabric flexibility, and, obviously, the sizing charts, too.
In the end, it’s important to note that pediatric flat foot is a condition that usually goes away on its own with time. You just need to provide your child with some arch support, foot stability, and a ton of patience!