Hiking with flat feet can indeed be a pain. Hikers who deal with overpronation, or flat feet, can endure a bunch more physical complications than those hikers with normal arches. When out on a trail too long without proper measures, hikers with flat feet will often experience pain in the hips, knees, and ankles. To avoid this discomfort and have the hikers with flat feet out on the trails as comfortably as possible, we’re going to explain overpronation and some solutions to help combat the physical effects it may bring.
What is Overpronation?
Overpronation, or as it’s simply known as flat feet, is a podiatric condition in which the arch of a foot is depressed and comes into either complete or almost complete contact with the ground.
Some people have a genetic disposition to have flat feet, while others may develop flat feet throughout their life. People with flat feet can fall into one of two categories: rigid or flexible.
Flexible Flat Feet
Flexible flat feet tend to be the most common type of overpronation a person can have. When somebody has a flexible arch, this means you can see the arches of their foot when they are not standing. However, when said person is on their feet, their arch disappears. This type of overpronation commonly develops in childhood or teen years and often worsens with age if proper measures are not taken. If not, the tendons and ligaments of the foot can tear and swell, causing a great deal of pain.
Rigid Flat Feet
Rigid flat feet occur when a person’s arches lie completely flat regardless if they are sitting or standing. This can cause the person who has rigid flat feet a lot of pain when trying to flex the foot. Like flexible flat feet, rigid flat feet can develop during a person’s childhood or teen years and worsens with time if proper measures are not taken.
Can I Go Hiking with Flat Feet?
If you have flat feet, you can absolutely still make your way out onto the trails. However, you should know that you are prone to experiencing far more discomfort than the average hiker.
Before you step foot on the trails, you should be aware of the severity of your flat foot and how much pain you experience, if any, on a day-to-day basis. This is especially important if you’re not used to traveling long distances on foot. To avoid any overwhelm, plan your hike a few days or weeks in advance and just observe how you naturally go about your day. How are you standing on your feet? What is your weight distribution like? How do your ankles feel?
If you find that in your day-to-day life, you’re experiencing some discomfort, you may want to consider getting orthopedic insoles to help support your arches. You can get these insoles custom-made by your podiatrist, or you can get them at your local pharmacy.
How To Hike With Flat Feet: Before, During, and After
When the day of your hike comes, it’s essential to be very mindful of how you take each step. Try to keep your legs as straight as possible, and try to distribute your weight to the outer edges of your feet as much as you can help it. This will help to relieve some of the discomforts that come with hiking with flat feet. You may also want to consider bringing a pair of trekking poles with you for further support.
If you find yourself out on the trails and observe that you are beginning to experience any discomfort in your feet, ankles, knees, or hips, do not hesitate to allow yourself to take a break as necessary. Hamstring stretches can help to relieve discomfort brought on by flat feet.
If after your hike, you find that you’re still experiencing some discomfort, yet you’re still eager to get back on the trails, consider doing some cold therapy for your feet and ankles. Cold therapy involves icing your feet or any other joints for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day. Cold therapy can be highly effective in helping to relieve any pain or discomfort caused by overpronation either off or on the trails. Cold therapy combined with adequate amounts of rest can do wonders for your feet and joints and is highly recommended to those who have flat feet and live a relatively active lifestyle.
Are there Hiking Boots for Flat Feet?
If you are one of those outdoor enthusiasts who struggle with flat feet, then you’re probably no stranger to the arduous task of finding a pair of shoes to fit your specific orthopedic needs.
Luckily there is hope for those with overpronation to comfortably and effectively enjoy the splendors of the outdoors! Just like with any hiking boot, you should always opt for a boot with good durability, quality material, and sufficient breathability. For those with flat feet, there are a few specific elements to especially watch out for when making your decision.
What To Look For In A Hiking Boot
Firstly, you should always be conscious of how a hiking boot fits your flat feet. A hiking boot that is too loose or too tight will only aggravate your arch, which can make it feel impossible to complete your hike. So always be mindful and be truthful with yourself about how a hiking boot fits you, even when it claims to be specially made for those with flat arches.
Secondly, traction and support are going to be the other very important elements to keep in mind when shopping for hiking boots for flat feet. When looking for your perfect pair of hiking boots, do not compromise the amount of insole support you need. This is going to be especially important when trekking on steeper terrain when the arches of your feet tend to be most activated.
Lastly, do not skip over ankle support! This is probably going to be one of the most important elements to look out for as a hiker with flat feet. Having flat feet almost always affects the ankles in some way or another, so getting all the ankle support you can get is going to be vital to the comfort of your hike. In this case, you should try to opt for a high-ankle hiking boot, as this will ensure you the maximum amount of ankle support on your hike.
Hiking with flat feet can sometimes bring on discomfort and pain; however, it doesn’t need to be this way. When you take the proper measures to ensure comfort, support, and proper rest, hiking with flat feet can be a comfortable and pain-free adventure!