Recommendations on hiking boots with extra support – flat foot/overpronation

Hi all! I’m looking for recommendations on a high quality hiking boot that may alleviate discomfort from genetic foot stability issues. Unfortunately, most of the women in my family have “inturned” feet that seem to get worse with age, along with knee problems. I’m 28 and starting to experience serious knee pain after short (6-10 mile) hikes. I recently moved to New Hampshire and began checking off hikes from the NH48 over the weekends, but I’m noticing that when I start a hike, my knees still hurt from hikes an entire week prior. I have the endurance to do longer hikes but find myself limited by pain and it’s upsetting.

I have some Mava knee braces leftover from my crossfitting days and will try those out next time, but feel that my inturned feet are causing me to compensate in ways that put more stress on my knees. Getting a different pair might fix the source of my pain.

Right now I have a pair of Keen shoes (I’ve put maybe 150 miles on them) and find them to be just a little too wide. I’ve always had pain/issues with them. They are only ankle tall (like a sneaker) so I’m wondering if a boot that covers the ankles would help. Open to hearing any/all ideas, bonus points if you’ve managed with similar issues! Brand/specific shoe suggestions? Anyone add inserts? Find knee braces helpful?

I don’t plan on stopping, hiking is the single best thing I can do for myself these days.

Thanks everyone!

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  • Biomechanics PhD here. Without you in my lab, diagnostics aren’t easy, so it’s really critical that you work with a doc and physical therapist. I can talk in some generalities, though.

    I’m unsure what you mean by “inturned” feet. This could be an arch collapse (there are three functional arches of the foot), inversion/eversion control, or hip joint anteversion. You really need to see a physical therapist for that.

    Knee pain can be from several sources, though. And as a knee specialist, I really do not suggest knee braces unless it’s an unloading brace prescribed by your doctor (and frankly, even then I’m hesitant to assume it’s at all beneficial – our research continues to demonstrate that braces are an ineffective intervention). Again, differential diagnostics by a medical professional (and this is where a sports PT will be more handy) to narrow down the source is going to be important here.

    But above all else, the answer to this is *not* to add mass to your feet. We have comprehensive evidence over the past 20ish years that hiking boots aren’t helpful in stabilizing the foot/ankle. A well-fitted trail runner can provide the necessary support, particularly with (in your case, I’m guessing it will be important to have) a calibrated insole, and reduce the weight that may be exacerbating your problems.

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