Even if you take a short jog now and then, it’s important that you do so in a pair of running shoes that fits your foot properly. Many running-related injuries can be avoided simply by wearing the right running shoes. We’ll explain how to find out what your feet need out of a running shoe so you know what to look for in a pair of shoes.
Study the way your foot strikes the ground
Open your bedroom cupboard and pick up a pair of shoes you’ve worn to do any running (or lots of walking). Turn them over and look at the soles, closely, to see where they’ve been worn down through the strike action of your foot as it comes down during the running motion.
Wherever the sole of the shoe is worn down the most is where you will need a little more cushioning in your new running shoes. This wear pattern may also shed some light on the way your foot pronates (we’ll explain that in a minute).
Take the wet feet test to find out how your feet pronate
First, let’s discuss the different kinds of pronation – or motion mechanics – of your feet:
- Pronation is when the middle of your foot turns inwards and downwards during walking or running. This movement allows for shock absorption.
- Overpronation is when your pronation is extreme so that your foot rolls inwards during movement and you push off using your big toe.
- Underpronation (or supination) is when your foot doesn’t roll in (or when it rolls out, so that you push off using the exterior side of the foot).
The pronation of your feet will inform the kind of running shoes you buy.
Submerge your feet in a tub of water. Climb out of the tub and step onto a piece of thick paper or cardboard. Now look closely at the wet print left by your feet. Specifically, look at the arch of your foot:
- You can’t see a definitely discernible arch in your wet print: You have flat feet. This means you overpronate so you need shoes that are structured to offer great stability, particularly in the mid-sole.
- You can see the ball of the foot and the heel in the wet print but the arch is a very thin line: You have high arches. This means you underpronate. You need shoes that have flexible soles (especially in the middle) and that absorb shock. Also, be aware that regular running will eventually push your arches flatter and this might cause your feet to spread (i.e. get longer). So be sure to check your shoe size periodically.
- You see an arch in the wet print but it’s neither thin nor thick: You have neutral feet so you pronate within the normal range. You can buy pretty much any running shoe but avoid those that are built to give you stability since this will actually throw your foot off its neutral pronation.
Take this information with you to a running shoe store (and perhaps take the worn out old pair of shoes you examined earlier to identify your strike pattern) and consult an experienced shoe salesperson.
And if the science behind movement is what fascinates you, then check out Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Exercise Science Certification. And make a career out of your passion!