To find the shoes that best suit your feet, you need to understand pronation: the way your foot rolls from heel to toe when striking the ground. Your foot acts as a shock absorber for your body, so learning how it makes contact with the surface will assist you in finding the proper shoe, thereby reducing stress on your legs and hips.
There are three types of pronation:
- Neutral pronation, when the heel lands slightly on its outside half and rolls forward evenly across the front of the foot;
- Under pronation, when the heel lands on the outside but never straightens out, forcing the foot’s exterior to take the majority of the stress;
- Over pronation, when the foot rolls too far inward, flowing from the outside of the heel to the extreme inside of your foot.
Both over and under pronation fail to adequately distribute the shock and can cause pain and injury if left unaddressed.
Runners who neutrally pronate generally have a normal arch and can use a variety of semi-curved stability running shoes, which provide mild arch-side support and good mid-sole cushioning. The added foundation will permit feet to continue their natural foot strike and soak up most of the stress.
Under pronation, also referred to as supination, can cause severe pain in the arch and heel as the foot rolls outward toward the ankle’s exterior. Under pronation, normally indicated by a high arch, can not only cause damage to the tissues in the feet, but also increase back and knee pain. The easiest and most beneficial way to treat under pronation is to get the correct kind of running shoe. Selecting a curve-shaped, cushioned running sneaker will encourage the foot to make a more neutral pass during the foot strike, thus reducing shock and enhancing absorption.
Over pronation, caused primarily by low arches that trigger excessive inward roll, prevents the foot and ankle from properly stabilizing the body. Depending on the severity of the over pronation, runners can find relief by wearing straight-shaped sneakers that are either stability shoes for mild cases or motion control shoes for more extreme symptoms.
Examine the wear patterns on your current shoes; they should help define what type of foot you have. If this doesn’t work, try a wet test. Simply wet your foot and stand momentarily on a flat surface. Step back and look. If you see a footprint revealing roughly half an arch, you are a neutral pronator. If you find a thick print with no real arch indentation, you are an over pronator; if you discover a shape that almost lacks the entire middle of the foot, you are an under pronator.
Determining how you run will help you pick the proper shoes.