If you’re looking for information on how to choose running shoes that fit your pronation type, you’ve landed on the right page.
When I decided to take up running several years ago, I jumped online to look for running shoe reviews. I thought deciding which pair to buy would simply be a matter of reading some running shoe reviews, finding a shoe with good reviews that I liked the look of, then selecting the color I wanted. If only it were that easy!
Don’t get me wrong, finding running shoe reviews was easy, but after looking through the first page or so I was bewildered. And not just by the number of brands, styles, and available colors, either.
Did I want a cushioning shoe, a stability shoe, or a motion shoe? Were my feet normal, flat, or high arched? If one of the latter two, to what degree? Was my pronation type neutral, or did I underpronate, or overpronate? I had no idea.
When I began walking for exercise, I went to a sports store, found a pair of walking shoes I liked the look of that felt comfortable and bought them. When they wore out, I’d go through the same process again or order another pair of the same shoes online. Maybe I was lucky, but I never had a problem. Then again, walking puts far less strain on the joints than running does.
I wanted to run, but I didn’t want knee, shin, or ankle problems. So I bookmarked the running shoe reviews sites I found to come back to later. Meanwhile, I set about finding out my foot pronation type so I could choose running shoes that would enable me to get the most from my workouts. Hopefully, what I learned will help you to find the correct running shoes for your foot type.
Foolproof Ways to Choose Running Shoes
It’s almost impossible to choose running shoes that will enable you to perform at your best if you don’t know your foot pronation type. And if you don’t buy the correct running shoes for your feet, you increase your risk of injury. Keep reading to find out how to determine your foot pronation type.
What is pronation?
Pronation describes the way the foot rolls when we walk, jog, or run. It is part of the natural movement which helps our lower leg deal with the impact placed on it when we stand and move our lower body.
Some people pronate more than is considered “normal.” This is called overpronation. Other people pronate less. This is known as underpronation, or supination.
Your foot pronation type affects the way you run. Running while wearing the wrong shoe for your gait can result in injury.
Knowing your pronation type will enable you to choose running shoes that are comfortable and supportive. The correct running shoes will also lower your risk of injury.
Determining your pronation type is quick and easy to do. Just follow the tips below.
A Closer Look At the Types of Pronation and How they Vary
If you are unsure of your foot pronation type and you can visit a sporting goods store, do so. The staff at most stores are trained to recognize shoe pronation types, and they will help you choose running shoes.
Another option is to arrange a treadmill gait analysis test with a podiatrist. If need be the podiatrist can also perform a test that measures the forces and angles of your feet as you run.
If you’d rather determine your foot pronation type at home, doing so is quite easy. Keep reading to find out how.
- Neutral Pronation
If your arch is what you’d consider normal in appearance, you very likely fall into the neutral or normal pronation category.
When people with neutral pronation walk or run, the outside part of their heel is the part of the foot that first comes in contact with the ground. Before it makes complete contact with the ground, your foot will roll inwards by about 15%. This action of the foot rolling in is what supports the weight of the body and evenly distributes the impact.
This movement process, which is known as pronation, is crucial to proper shock absorption. At this point, people with normal pronation push off to take their next step with the pressure distributed evenly across the front of their foot. As mentioned previously, all runners can sustain injuries, including neutral pronators. However, wearing the correct running shoes for your pronation type can help to minimize the risk.
People with normal pronation have more options when it comes to choosing running shoes than those with overpronation or underpronation. Not only can they wear running shoes designed for neutral runners, they can also wear running shoes made for people with slightly flat or highly arched feet.
Normal pronators will, however, usually find that the best running shoe for them is a stability shoe, which provides moderate pronation control.
Three easy ways to tell if you have normal pronation:
- Look at the soles of your running shoes. If the wear pattern is in an S-shape from the large toe to the heel, this indicates that you have neutral pronation. To confirm this, place your shoes on a flat surface and they should sit evenly.
- Stand without shoes and look down at your feet. If your pronation type is normal, the arch of your foot will be centered.
- Do the wet foot test. To do this, wet your feet then step onto a thick piece of paper. Step off the paper, then examine your footprint. If you have normal pronation, you will see a heel print that connects to your forefoot by a strip that is approximately half the width of your foot on the outside of your sole.
What Neutral Pronators Should Look for When Choosing Running Shoes
If you are a neutral pronator, look for running shoes that are cushioned to provide support and stability and flexible so that your feet can move freely.
When underpronators run, as with neutral and overpronators, their outer heels are the first part of their foot to make contact with the ground. The difference is that the inward movement of their foot is less than 15%. During the push-off phase, much of the work is done by the smaller toes. This results in less shock absorption and greater impact placed on a small section of the outside of the foot.
The added pressure on the outside of the feet and uneven weight distribution can lead to ankle sprains, and stress fractures of the tibia, calcaneus, and metatarsals. Other injuries that can occur include Plantar Fascitis, Shin Splints, Achilles Tendonitis, and IT Band Syndrome.
3 easy ways to tell if you underpronate
- Look at the soles of your running shoes. If the outer part shows the most wear, especially in the forefoot region, this is a sign that you underpronate. And when placing your shoes on a flat surface they will probably tilt slightly outwards.
- Observe your feet while standing barefoot. If the arch of your foot is high and primarily on the outside, you supinate.
- Do the wet foot test. Wet your feet, stand on a piece of thick paper, then step off the paper and examine your footprints. If a thin strip connects your heel and the front of your foot or if they aren’t connected at all, you are an underpronator.
What Underpronators Should Look for When Choosing Running Shoes
A neutral running shoe with lots of cushioning provides protection for supinators, who are prone to stress fractures.
Look for a shoe that has midsole and heel cushioning along with padding along the outside to counteract the outward rolling of your feet as you run. Make sure that the shoes you buy are flexible to distribute impact evenly.
As with supinators and neutral pronators, an overpronator’s outer heel is the first part of their foot to make contact with the ground when they run. A difference, however, is that with each step their foot rolls inward by more than 15%, making them an overpronator.
This angle puts more pressure on the foot and ankle. As a result, stabilizing the body can be difficult and the shock of movement may not be absorbed efficiently. At the end of the gait cycle when the foot pushes off the ground, it rotates inwards with the big and second toes doing most of the work.
This movement puts stress on the inside of the ankles which can lead to injuries caused by poor shock absorption and improper running technique. Included among these injuries is Runner’s Knee, Achilles Tendonitis, Shin Splints, and Plantar Fascitis.
Three easy ways to tell if you overpronate
- Check the soles of your running shoes. If there is more wear on the inner edge of the heel and the large toe/ball of foot area, this indicates that you overpronate. And when placed on a flat surface, your shoes will probably tilt inwards slightly.
- Standing without shoes, look down at your feet. If the inside of your soles touch the floor, and there is no obvious arch, your feet are overpronated, or flat.
- Do the wet foot test. Wet your feet before standing on a thick sheet of paper. Step off the paper, then examine the impression left behind. If there is little difference between the front and back of the print, your feet are overpronated.
What Overpronators Should Look for When Choosing Running Shoes
If you are an overpronator, you will do best with stability running shoes that have structured cushioning to provide maximum support.
A stability running shoe will also distribute the stress of running and limit the degree to which your feet pronate. Choose shoes with medial arch support. If your feet are extremely overpronated, choose a motion control shoes which has extra cushioning.
How to Choose Running Shoes Summary
As you can see, it’s not difficult to choose running shoes for your foot pronation when you know how. With so many options in different price brackets, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a pair of shoes that feel comfortable, maximize your performance, and help to prevent injuries.