In this product guide:
- 1. Factors to consider
- 2. Cushioned trainer with supportive ride: Saucony Tempus
- 3. Stability shoe with a firm ride: Saucony Guide 15
- 4. Stability shoe with a medial post: New Balance 860V13
- 5. Stability shoe with a medial post: New Balance Vongo V5
- 6. Cushioned trainer with a medial post: Asics Kayano 29
- 7. Cushioned trainer with a medial post: Asics GT-2000 11
- 8. Max stability trainer with arch support: Brooks Addiction GTS 15
- 9. Cushioned trainer with arch support: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22
- 10. Supportive trainer with neutral ride: Asics Kayano Lite 3
- 11. Supportive trainer with neutral ride: Nike Structure 24
Here’s an unpopular take: flat-footed runners do not necessarily have to wear a ‘stability’ shoe with a medial post or equivalent features like raised midsole edges (Guiderails).
There’s a misconception that flat-footed runners are (more) prone to injuries, and thus the need for specific footwear. That is wrong because even regular-arched runners get injured as frequently.
If there is a conclusive study or peer-reviewed research that proves that flat-footed runners are more prone to injuries than non-flat footed runners, then we’d like to read it.
Not all stability shoes are alike. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 (review here) works differently than the Nike Structure 24; the latter functions differently than an Asics Kayano 29 or Saucony Guide 15.
The stability running shoe had its origins in the early 1980s when the athletic footwear industry was still in its infancy. Back then, most shoes used a primitive midsole design that involved glueing a mesh upper to a low-quality midsole made of die-cut EVA foam.
All runners pronate regardless of their arch height, and some do it more than others. So in those days, the said rolling motion caused the inferior midsole to flatten on one (medial) side.
This led to the rise of different stability devices to make the inner midsole more supportive.
The high incidence of injuries in that era – certainly made worse by the inferior shoe design – led to the paradigm that views ‘overpronation’ or arch type as a cause of injury.
Flat feet were assumed to be a pre-condition for excessive rolling in, hence resulting in the conflation of the two factors.
In short, the entire medial post and pronation thing is a 70~80’s deal, based on a then-valid theory formed under an entirely different set of circumstances.
However, modern running shoe midsoles are highly advanced – both from a design and material standpoint.
Standard ‘neutral’ shoes such as the Asics Kayano Lite 3 or Saucony Ride 15 offer high levels of inherent stability. Also, most contemporary foam materials will outlive the rest of the shoe.
So if you have flat feet and are looking for a shoe, what should you buy?
It’s pretty obvious that we aren’t going to draw up a definitive list of shoes that are ‘suitable for flat-footed runners.’ There’s no guarantee that this recommendation works, and anyone who tells you otherwise needs to know better.
The best way is to use your existing shoe as a reference. If a shoe has worked for you (in the past) without any problems, then the next shoe should have a similar fit and ride. Conversely, look for qualities that are missing in your existing shoe.
What we’re going to do here is recommend models based on the set of attributes you’re looking for, or have (previously) experienced in an existing shoe. For instance, a certain group of runners prefer a stability shoe without the corrective ‘motion control’ behavior.
So that you know, a shoe with a noticeable motion-control ride divides the midsole into firm and soft sections, with the medial (inner side) being firmer than the lateral (outer) area.
Others may prefer a shoe that has the said firm and soft set-up. Some may want a shoe that comes with a noticeable sensation of under-arch support. And a small percentage of individuals want none of the medial posting business, and simply need their shoe to be cushioned and supportive.
Ultimately, the best running shoe is what you’re comfortable running in, and we hope we can help point you in the right direction. This isn’t a simple list, nor is it exhaustive – because a running shoe is a very personal choice.
True stability shoes with a supportive ride quality.
1) Saucony Tempus
Saucony is great at ‘borrowing’ running shoe concepts from other brands and adding value through improvements. The Endorphin Speed and Pro are good examples, and so is the Everun (aka Pwrrun+).
The firm EVA frame locks over the cushioned Pwrrun PB (PEBA foam) midsole to produce a unique blend of ride comfort and stability.
Even though the inner midsole is more supportive than the outer side, it doesn’t create a bias. That’s good news if you’re looking for a supportive shoe that doesn’t feel intrusive, and is versatile and comfortable for different runs.
The upper is extremely breathable, and is lined with soft materials for interior comfort.
2) Saucony Guide 15
The Saucony Guide 15 gets a brand-new midsole that’s taller and more comfortable than the outgoing Guide 14. Our comprehensive review looks at all the changes.
Not only that, but it gets a thick insole made entirely of Pwrrun+ – an expanded Polyurethane foam that’s also used for adidas Boost. Its flared design provides plenty of under-arch support.
The fully sleeved upper is smooth and very secure. At the same time, it’s softer and breathes better than the last version; the lightweight upper is almost Kinvara like.
From a stability standpoint, there are many things that the Guide 15 gets right.
The midsole is cushioned for long-distance runs, yet firm and supportive. Instead of a firmer medial post, Saucony uses a plastic stabilizer to make the inner midsole supportive.
Lastly, the new Guide 15 has a new transition groove that keeps the weight centered during the gait cycle.
3) New Balance Fresh Foam 860 V13
The Fresh Foam 860 V13 uses a completely redesigned midsole, but it has one thing in common with the previous model.
Just like the 860V12, the V13’s midsole has a medial post – a firmer wedge of foam on the inner midsole. The midsole on the arch side also has raised edges, so the inner midsole is noticeably more supportive than the outer side.
In short, even with its modern Fresh Foam X midsole and upper design, the 860V13 is a traditional stability shoe. The soft and comfortable upper fits true to size, and is available in three optional widths.
The firmer wedge blends seamlessly into the midsole, whereas the rest of the midsole makes the 860 comfortable enough for most runs. The combination rubber outsole grip well and helps with smooth transitions.
To sum up, the New Balance Fresh Foam 860V13 is a versatile trainer that will appeal to most runners, flat-footed or otherwise.
4) New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo V5
Until the last version (V4), the Vongo wasn’t your average stability shoe. It was cushioned, supportive, and low-drop without a medial post. The split outsole and a deep transition groove kept the weight centered and supported.
On the Vongo V4, the inner midsole had a more supportive sidewall for increased stability and under-arch support. The outer midsole had laser-cut cavities – this made the ride softer while resulting in a slight cushioning bias.
Not sure why New Balance had a change of heart, but the Vongo V5 gets a firmer medial post for the first time. A large medial post is visible on the inner midsole.
It’s anybody’s guess what the outcome is. The Vongo V5 has a healthy amount of medial side support along with a cushioned ride. The thick Fresh Foam midsole and articulated outsole work together to produce distance-friendly ride comfort. The forefoot has softer blown rubber pads for padded landings and take-offs.
After a brief period of New Balance’s strange fixation with Origami-type heel design, better sense has prevailed – the heel collar returns to a traditional cup design.
The Vongo V5, like most new NB releases, uses a soft mesh with plush material trims. The interiors lock the foot down with plenty of supportive comfort.
‘Motion control’ shoes with firmer medial (inner) and softer lateral (outer) midsole sidewalls.
5) Asics Gel-Kayano 29
Despite its top-to-bottom redesign and softer ride, the Kayano 29 feels familiar. The midsole hasn’t lost the firmer wedge, so this is a traditional stability shoe.
The midsole is softer and lighter due to the new Flytefoam Blast+ and removal of the plastic shank. Instead of a stiff footbridge, the new Kayano uses a reinforced outsole on the arch side.
Considering the medially-posted midsole, the Kayano does have a cushioning bias towards the softer Gel side. The difference in softness isn’t a lot but is noticeable.
While the Flytefoam Blast+ forefoot is softer than the Kayano 28, it is supportive and transition-friendly.
To sum up, the Kayano 29 is comfortable enough for daily and long-distance runs. That said, it isn’t best used for tempo workouts or short races. Our in-depth review explains why that’s the case.
The plush upper sells in many widths and runs true-to-size. The heel is very supportive, thanks to the molded plastic clip.
The Women’s Kayano 29 differs from the men’s model in its midsole thickness. The women’s Kayano 29 has a stack height of 24 mm (rear) and 14 mm (front), so that’s 1 mm lower than the men’s version.
6) Asics Gel GT-2000 11
By all accounts, the GT-2000 11 is a toned-down Kayano 29.
Last year, the GT-2000 10 was updated with milder stability features. For example, the plastic midfoot shank was replaced with outsole rubber. If you’re interested, our in-depth review has more pictures and information.
Owing to these changes, the GT-2000 10’s ride character moved towards a ‘neutral’ direction. While the overall ride was supportive in nature, the cushioning acquired a softer feel. The GT-2000 11 is based on a similar design as the GT-2000 10, so it feels very familiar.
Just like the previous model, the GT-2000 11 isn’t completely free of the cushioning bias. The medial side is made of a firm density Flytefoam that makes the inner midsole more supportive than the side with the Gel window. Asics now calls this design ‘Litetruss’.
Even the upper is less busy. Instead of an external clip, Asics applies urethane reinforcement over the heel and midfoot.
The rest of the upper is standard Asics fare, meaning that the shell is made of an engineered mesh with a smooth interior. The padded heel and tongue feel very plush and helps lock the foot down.
Though the women’s GT-2000 11 has the same 10 mm offset as the men’s model, its stack heights are lower by 1 mm throughout.
Cushioned shoes with arch support. These models have a filled-up under-arch area or high midsole sidewall.
7) Brooks Addiction GTS 15
The Addiction GTS 15 is a worthy successor – or replacement – of the Brooks Beast 20.
Like the Beast, the ultra-cushioned midsole has a set of ‘Guiderails’ – raised sidewalls that cup the foot on either side. This design makes it ideal for flat-footed runners who require a lot of underfoot support.
Hypothetically speaking, even if the Guiderails were missing, the wide midsole has plenty of inherent stability. The broad forefoot and heel result in a planted ride, and the rubber outsole provides coverage without any deep grooves. That helps with traction and overall stability.
The thick insole can be removed to accommodate an aftermarket Orthotic as well. The sleeved upper is spacious, smooth, and secure – just like the Beast.
8) Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22
The Brooks Adrenaline isn’t what it used to be; it has transformed into a completely different shoe. First, it dropped the firmer medial post and adopted the ‘guide rails’ – Brooks lingo for raised midsole sidewalls. In doing so, it exited the traditional ‘stability’ shoe universe.
Last year, the GTS 21 came full circle. Not only did it become softer, but it also got rid of the heel crash pad.
Just like the Brooks Ghost 14, the Adrenaline GTS 21 had a single-density midsole from heel to toe. Only the inner side ‘Guide Rail’ was made of a firmer foam for under-arch support.
The Adrenaline GTS 22 is similar to the GTS 21, but with a couple of noteworthy updates. The midsole is firmer than before, and so is the inner Guiderail. Our in-depth review is here.
We see this as both good and bad. On one hand, the firmer midsole is more supportive than the outgoing version. On the flip side, the firmer foam piece located under the arch tends to create a pressure hot spot.
Despite the reconfigured midsole, this is still a comfortable pair of Adrenalines, one that can be used as a daily trainer or long-distance shoe. The soft insole adds soft cushioning under the foot, and the softer forefoot outsole rubber also makes the landings and transitions less jarring.
The full rubber outsole does what it does best – it grips effectively while working cohesively with the midsole.
There’s an expected level of Brooks plushness inside the upper, all while fitting smooth and true to size. Unlike the Ghost 14, the GTS 22 has a gusseted tongue.
Supportive neutral shoes
Supportive running shoes from the neutral category are also worth considering. Many models blend cushioning and support, and are safe choices for most runners regardless of their gait pattern.
9) Asics Kayano Lite 3
The Kayano Lite 3 shares its name with the medially posted Kayano 29, but the two are nothing alike. Ok, maybe the plush upper is the only thing that both have in common.
The Asics Kayano Lite 3 is categorized as a ‘supportive neutral’ shoe, because that’s exactly what it is. The wide Flytefoam midsole (with a tiny forefoot Gel) offers a cushioned and supportive ride for flat feet.
Long-distance runs and everyday training are the best use cases for the Kayano Lite 3.
10) Nike Air Zoom Structure 24
When the Nike Structure 23 arrived last year, it did so without the medial post that the 22 had. In the process, it turned into a much softer running shoe. The Nike Structure 24 is nearly identical to the 23. So what is this shoe even doing on this guide?
Since both the versions are nearly identical, it’s worth reading our detailed review where we dive deep into the Structure’s transformation.
The gist being, the Structure 24 is still a very supportive running shoe due to its wide midsole and a snug upper.
And isn’t that what the trend is nowadays? On one hand, we have ‘regular’ neutral shoes like the Pegasus 39 or Vomero 16. Then there are supportive-neutral running shoes like the Structure that marry distance-friendly cushioning with a stable ride.
The medium-soft ride (and that includes the snappy Zoom Air forefoot) makes the Structure 24 very versatile – be it everyday training, slightly higher-paced runs, or even high-mileage outings.
The foot is securely held in place by a sleeved upper that’s generously quilted.