The Flat-footed Problem

I saw a quack podiatrist as a child. My feet were nothing special (just flat), but my mother saw my feet as a self-induced affliction, capable of correcting with proper stretching and sneaker inserts. By the end, I discarded my personalized $300 inserts, which were uncomfortable and totally useless.

Flat feet is a generic term, also called “fallen arches”, or pronation.

Pronation occurs when your arches collapse when walking. According to a bespoke shoemaker I spoke to, flat feet can be common amongst Asians.

Bespoke shoes accommodating the wearer’s arch issue, highlighted in blue (Photo by Hiro Yanigimachi).

In the above photo, you can see the inside foot extending slightly outwards. That is a sign of a pronating foot, where falling arches adds weight to inside part of the shoe.

The military used to disqualify individuals with fallen arches, but not anymore. To me, flat feet feel inconvenient more than anything.

My feet would tire more easily, and swell with varicose veins due to the added stress, which prevented me from walking further than I wanted.

A few years ago, I purchased sandals with built-in orthotics by ABEO designed for flat feet.

Those sandals drastically improved my walking and I was no longer limited by my arch issue.

This find was one of many encouragements that sparked my journey to bespoke shoes; eventually I learned about shoemaking as an apprentice and made my own shoes with built-in insoles on an altered stock last*.

*= updated

Bottom leather insole, supported by cork

Those insoles distributed the weight back to the outside of my foot, instead of the inside.

Having these insoles relieved my arches: and because there is no more pressure, stopped the leather in the quarters from puckering out.

One of my trial shoes without the insoles. You can see the leather puckering out — without the insole, the arches push the leather out back, creating a less-fitting shoe.

My shoes have worn much more comfortably than my MTO shoes, which quickly tire my feet. My feet don’t hurt, blister, and ache after hours of wear– thanks to the supportive insole and a good-fitting last.

Any decent bespoke shoemaker should be able to accommodate flat feet. If somehow their narrow style cannot accommodate your foot, then find another shoemaker who can.

Some shoemakers specialize in podiatry. In the United States, I have visited Oliver Moore in New York, who crafts shoes for people with difficult feet, but cannot recommend anything as I have no experience with his services; I have also heard about Davis Shoes in San Francisco, but have no direct experience. Stylistically, their shoe are not for me, but these makers may be helpful for those with severe foot issues.

Typical flat feet can mostly be remedied with good shoes. This is why I often relate feet back to health. Custom shoes will always trumps a thousand pairs of generic shoes.

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