Published: June 10, 2009
Updated: June 2, 2010
By Emily Mitchell
One type does not fit all when it comes to running shoes.
Whether your goal is to enjoy a leisurely jog or you're training to be the next Usain Bolt, having a running shoe that supports your foot type is the key to keep you moving.
To pick the right shoe, you need to know your foot type. You also need to know the type of shoe that best supports your arch and running style. These key points will help you find a shoe that both prevents injury and promotes performance.
The following tips were provided by Duke Sports Medicine physical therapist Randall Lazicki.
When you run, you naturally land on the outside of your foot and roll inward. This inward rolling is called pronation.
There are three different foot types: neutral arch, low arch, and high arch. The height of the arch affects the direction and severity of the way your foot rolls, or pronates.
Take a look at the bottom of your running shoe. The wear on your shoe will likely reveal your foot type.
If examining your shoe wear doesn’t tell you what type of foot you have, a simple "wet test" may do the trick.
To perform a wet test, you'll need water, a shallow pan, a brown paper grocery bag, and your foot. Follow these steps:
Lifting your foot reveals your foot type. Your footprint should resemble one of the following images:
Now that you know your foot type, it’s time to find the right shoe for you. Shoes are generally categorized as stability shoes, motion control shoes, or cushioning shoes.
Stability shoes are best for runners with normal arches and only mild control problems. The extra stability these shoes offer comes from extra arch-side supports and high density foam. Stability shoes are typically built with a gentle arch from front to back that provides rearfoot stability and forefoot flexibility.
Motion control shoes are great for flat-footed and heavy runners who tend to overpronate. These shoes typically have rigid devices made out of plastic, fiberglass, or high density foam. The arch area on motion control shoes is filled in for increased stability which is why there is a different color at the midsole. The extra rigidity in these shoes prevents the ankle from turning out and the foot from overpronating.
Cushioning shoes help to support people with high arches and rigid feet who tend to underpronate. This highly flexible shoe is built on a curve and made of lightweight materials that provide minimal rigidity with optimal cushioning.
Now that you know what type of foot you have and what type of shoe you should be looking for, you're ready to find your perfect shoe.
If you shop at a quality running store, the employees often have extensive knowledge about the shoes and can help you select a pair that supports your foot type.
When you go to try on shoes, remember these key points:
You should replace running shoes every 400 to 600 miles because the shock absorption depletes with every passing mile.
And remember, no matter how expensive your shoes are or how much technology they contain, they will not do their job unless they fit correctly.