The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Alternatives to the Ballet Flat: Finding Comfortable Flat Shoes with Arch Support

Posted by on Friday, April 15th, 2016


Too high, too pointy, too narrow  you’ve probably heard of the many ways high heels can kill your feet. Flats used to be seen as the almighty “anti-heel.” What could be better for your feet than a shoe which puts your foot in neutral alignment, flat as can be? However, podiatrists caution that flat shoes aren’t always the answer, particularly if you’re one of the 60 million Americans born with flat feet. NYC podiatrists at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine offer suggestions for healthier alternatives to ballet flats and heels.

Try a cushioned version of a ballet flat to provide your feet with stability and support. | Image Source: Flickr User katherine
Try a cushioned version of a ballet flat to provide your feet with stability and support. | Image Source: Flickr User Katherine

Are Your Feet Flat?

One easy way to tell if you have flat feet is to step in water and then step on a piece of paper or pavement. If you see a thick arch print, then you have flat feet! If you have naturally flat feet, you may feel fine your whole life. But if you have naturally flat feet and regular foot pain, you’ll need to shop for a shoe with more arch support to prevent problems like plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, shin splints, knee problems, and stress fractures.

Flats Are Overrated

As you stare longingly at your flip-flops and flats, keep in mind that “flats are overrated,” according to Huffington Post Style. In addition, flats:

  • Are terrible in the rain.
  • Stink.
  • Pinch and rub the feet.
  • Lack support cushioning.
  • Cause you to look “woefully underdressed.”
  • Don’t work well with tights.
  • Are cute and beautiful, but not “attractive.”

So why not make the switch to a better dress shoe?

Check it Out: Avoiding Treacherous Footwear – Flip Flop Alternatives 

Making the Switch to Alternative Flat Shoes

If you’re not quite ready to give up the look of your favorite ballet flats, consider some of the new hybrids on the market that add “secret” cushioning to the traditional style of a flat. Frantic But Fabulous recommends swapping uncomfortable flats with “the athletic flat” by Puma, which is the perfect marriage between sneaker and dressy. Puma’s not the only well-known sports brand developing alternative flat shoes. Ecco offers a wide variety of styles as well, including Ballerina Flats. The Softwalk Nadia Ballet Flat is another cushioned shoe that poses as your favorite pair of flats. If you want something a little funkier, try the Keen Harvest MJ.

See More: Shoe Styles That Hurt Your Feet

Shoes with Straps

When given the choice, look for a strap. The strap holds the shoe to your foot a bit better, so you don’t get the chafing that causes blisters, corns, and calluses. Keep in mind, your feet swell by the end of the day, so you want to look for a wide, adjustable strap that won’t dig into the top of your foot. Another suggestion is to outfit the underside of the strap with an after-market cushion to protect the feet from abrasions.

Contoured Sandals

Contoured sandals are another style that podiatrists feel comfortable recommending as an alternative. Many of these styles are made with ventilated memory foam bottoms now, which conform to the feet and feel quite comfortable all day long. Well-known brands include Aetrex, Orthaheel, and Dansko, all of which have the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance.

You May Also Like: Falling Flat – Adult Onset Flat Foot

How Can NY Women Find the Best Shoes?

Our podiatrists concern themselves with preventative care as much as injury treatment, so we’re happy to counsel you on fashionable yet comfortable footwear choices. We can also fit you for custom orthotic insoles that can slip inside most pairs of closed-toe dress shoes to make them more comfortable and tailored to your unique foot shape. Daily foot pain is not a normal part of life; it’s a sign that something is wrong. If you’re experiencing foot pain from your shoes, see an NYC podiatrist to find out how and where to find the best shoes for your particular feet.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.