Posted on November 10 2015
Finding a new pair of running shoes is never easy. It takes time and perseverance, but you will eventually find the pair with a perfect fit your foot — and lifestyle.
Whether they’re for men or for women, it certainly seems like there are a lot of different athletic shoe options. So how on earth do you ever pick a pair of running shoes that will actually be a good fit for you? Well, if you break it down in the following way, you may find it’s easier than you think. Consider the following 3 questions before making a final purchase:
- What kind of pronation does my ankle have?
- What type of arch flexibility does my foot have?
- What kind of body frame do I have?
Step 1: Figure out what kind of pronation you have.
Pronation may sound like a scary word, but all it means is the direction that your ankle rolls after your heel lands on the ground. There are three main types of pronation, as well as a quick and easy way to figure out how you pronate.
The first, most common type is basic, or neutral, pronation. This type features:
- Inward ankle rolling on impact
- Results in ideal impact reduction at landing
You can tell if you have basic/neutral pronation if the wear on the bottom of an old sneaker is primarily at the heel and ball of the foot.
The second type is overpronation, which means:
- Too much inward ankle rolling on impact
- Can result in knee and joint injury
If you overpronate, the bottom of your shoe will show a wear pattern along the inside edge.
The third type of pronation is supination. As the rarest form of rotation, supination features:
- Outward ankle rotation on heel impact
- The worst possible impact reduction upon landing
This type of pronation will show a lot of wear along the outside edge of an old sneaker.
So what running sneakers are best for the different types of pronation?
Basic/neutral pronation: If you have basic pronation, the whole shoe world is your oyster. Pick any shoe with gentle shock absorption and side-arch support — you’ll be good to go.
Overpronation: The best running shoes for overpronation are stability shoes. These types of sneakers offer firm reinforcement for your arches to keep you balanced throughout your run.
Supination: The best running shoes if you supinate will have very few stabilizing feature. Instead you should look for flexible shoes that have a lot of cushioning.
Step 2: Figure out what type of arch you have.
Pronation is important. So is arch type. Many people ask “what are the best running shoes for high arches?” Other wonder what shoes will work best for flat feet.
Well the answer is somewhat complicated, depending on what kind of arch flexibility you have, you should choose a shoe with a lot, or no, arch support.
So how do you determine what kind of arch you have? It’s simple — do a wet test.
A wet test involves pouring a thin layer of water into a shallow pan, wetting the bottom of your foot, and then stepping onto a piece of paper. The imprint your foot makes will show you what type of arch you have: normal/medium, flat/low, or high.
What are you looking for exactly on your footprint?
A normal/medium arch will show around half of your arch area filled in. This is the most common type of arch and usually signifies that you have natural pronation. This means, again, that you can wear almost any running shoe that feels comfortable.
A flat/low arch means your foot rolls inward on impact which can stress out your knees. You’ll know if you have a flat foot if you can see the majority of your arch in your footprint outline. The shoe recommendation for this type of arch is one with, you guessed it, arch support. Arch support and substantial midsoles will lift your foot and help maintain more natural pronation.
A high arch means your arch supports very little of the impact during a run. Your footprint will show little or no arch contact. In this case, similarly with supination, you will not need arch support. A high-cushioning shoe will help absorb the shock of impact that the arch normally would.
Step 3: Figure out which type of shoe will support your body frame the best
Now that we have analyzed how pronation and arch are important factors in your running shoe choice, it’s time to discuss how your body frame will affect your choice.
According to Road Runner Sports, “running puts three to five times your bodyweight onto your feet, joints, and muscles every time you strike the ground.” So depending on what type of body frame you have, different types of running shoes might work better for you.
For example, the heavier you are, the more impact you put on your body when you go for a run. A good option for a running shoe is one with superior cushioning.
If you are generally a lighter weight, cushioning is not as important of a factor but should be considered all the same.
At the end of the day it is not only crucial to know your foot, but also to try shoes on. Try on different brands and styles, spend some time in them. If it’s not comfortable right away, don’t buy them because odds are they won’t be comfortable in the long run.