Choosing the Correct Running Shoes – A New Thought
Typically when you go to a running store, an associate will examine the way you walk, run, or stand and what occurs at your foot and ankle during each activity. If you get a knowledgeable employee, they may examine foot shape, callus formation, and shoe wear pattern. However, the two most commonly evaluated things are your arch and how much pronation you do or do not have.
Pronation is a combination of movements in three planes. Basically, it is the inward rotation of the foot and ankle as you transfer weight to that limb. The term ‘pronation’ is tossed around a lot when the foot and ankle are involved. Don’t let the term scare you. Pronation is completely normal and actually a good thing. It occurs in order to absorb some of the impact from landing on that limb. Overpronation can occur and this can lead to injury. Common practice states that if you overpronate you must wear a motion control shoe. This is where the controversy lies. Overpronation is not the whole picture. Overpronators can perform well in a neutral shoe, but more on that later. One must also take into account arch, knee mechanics, and strength to name a few.
It is also valuable to look at the arch along the inside of the foot from toes to heel. The arch plays a major role in what happens to the foot during weight bearing activities. It too acts as a shock absorber. A high and/or stiff arch will often not allow a person to adequately pronate. While a flat foot may result from a poor arch and overpronation, a collapsed arch may also occur with only minimal weight bearing and may be independent of pronation.
Types of Running Shoes
In simple terms there are three types of running shoes: neutral, stability, and motion control. There are variations including racing flats, trail running shoes, and the trendy barefoot running shoes, but for the purpose of this article we will discuss the primary three.
A neutral running shoe has cushioning material of equal densities along the inside and outside of the shoe. Typically, the bottom of the shoe has some sort of cutout along the middle of the shoe running in to out with the contact points being the broad surface at the ball of the foot and the heel. There is no additional material added to provide additional support or stabilization
A stability shoe does what the name implies. The inside of the shoe along the arch often contains a more dense material, obvious by the different color of cushioning material. The inside material is more dense and is meant to control for overpronation. The bottom of the shoe may also have a harder plastic at the center of the shoe providing torsional rigidity and further support at the arch.
Motion control shoes are the most supportive. They have a very dense material along the inside arch and the bottom of the shoe is often flat in order to maximize stability. These are recommended for those who severely overpronate and have flat feet.
What type of running shoe do you wear?
Arch vs. Pronation
Runners and even healthcare professionals often view a collapsed arch and overpronation as one in the same. Often, they are independent of one another. This may affect what type of shoe may be the best fit for you. A person who is bow legged (medically referred to as having knee varus) will likely land on the outer part of their foot more than someone with straight knees. When they pronate to a neutral position, their relative amount of pronation is high, but their foot is still in a neutral position. These people are often put in a stability shoe when a neutral shoe may be more appropriate. People can also have collapsed arches but their ankle remains relatively neutral. These people are also often given a stability shoe when a neutral shoe with an arch support may be more appropriate.
In severe cases a motion control shoe is appropriate. These are normally the people with severe overpronation and also a collapsed arch. Even with a motion control shoe a custom made foot orthotic may be indicated.
A good rule of thumb is to provide the least amount of stability necessary. The best advice is to strengthen your foot and ankle regularly, especially for those people running longer distances or increased mileage. Have your foot and ankle evaluated by a professional, such as PT or podiatrist prior to purchasing shoes to help you determine the best shoe for you. Remember to update your shoes every 6 months or 500 miles. Also, if regularly running back to back days you may need to have 2 pairs of shoes in order to maintain the shoe integrity as shoes need up to 24 hours to restore optimal performance.
Other Information to Consider
- Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis: My Experience With Therapeutic Footwear
The best shoes for plantar fasciitis offer good arch support and motion control for your foot. I've compiled recommendations for running shoes, dress shoes and walking shoes that can help with heel pain and a torn or inflamed plantar fascia.
- Running Shoe Guide: Choosing Running Shoes
Guide to choosing the right shoe and finding running shoe sales. Also tips on running shoe sales and running shoe discounts. People have different needs based on your own support needs. Guide to brand differences for men's running shoes, women's runn