Selecting the right shoe for your foot type and running style is not an easy task. I am going to lay out some guidelines that should make the decision making a little easier but I always recommend consulting with your local pedorthist.
Running shoes basically fall into three categories with varying degrees. These categories are neutral, stability and motion control. There are many features within a shoe that can make it more or less stable but for this article we are going to focus mainly on midfoot stability.
First and foremost, before selecting a shoe you need to determine your foot type. Are you an overpronator, a supinator or do you have a relatively neutral foot? I have included some generalized diagrams of the heel bone viewed from the back relative to the bones of the lower leg and images of footprints as well to help you.
If you find that you have a pronated foot type you should be looking at motion control shoes. Motion control shoes tend to have a dense plug inserted under the midfoot in the sole of the shoe. This plug gives the shoe aggressive support in the area of the foot that tends to collapse during the stance phase of gait. If you have a pronated foot type, your foot is often quite flexible. To avoid repetitive strain injuries, a motion control shoe will tend to offer the rigidity that your foot is unable to provide. Consulting a pedorthist before beginning to run is recommended so the root cause of your pronation can be determined and addressed.
If you have a supinated foot type you should typically be looking at neutral and cushioning shoes. A supinated foot tends to be more rigid and does not absorb shock very well. This foot type is prone to injuries resulting from a lack of cushioning, i.e. stress fractures. A neutral shoe tends to have more cushioning properties to counter this. In severe cases, there are a few shoes on the market that offer midfoot support, like the motion control shoe, but for this foot type, the plug is placed on the outside of the shoe. If you feel this may be you, you should be professionally fit for proper shoes before beginning to run.
If you find yourself fortunate enough to be in the neutral category, recommending a shoe is not as cut and dry. Typically I would suggest a stability shoe. This type of shoe offers similar properties as the motion control shoe but to a lesser extent. Some people with a neutral foot find a neutral shoe that offers little support to be most comfortable. With this foot type you have some flexibility to play around with different shoes within the stability and neutral category to find out what is best for you. I would avoid a strong motion control shoe as you don’t want to over correct the foot.
Determining which shoes fall under which category can be difficult. I recommend purchasing your footwear from a pedorthist or at a store that specializes in running. The staff at these places tend to be knowledgable and should be able to point you in the right direction.
This article should have helped you with the basics of shoe selection. I always suggest that you contact a pedorthist to ensure that you have made the right choice.
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