Choose the right running shoes
Good shoes are the most essential item runners need to buy. Increase your pleasure and eliminate pain by choosing the right shoes for your feet, writes David Hay Jones.
Feet come in three basic types: neutral (normal or medium arch), pronators (varying degrees of flat feet or low arch), supinators (high arch). These are fancy ways of describing what your feet do when they strike the ground.
Neutral: If you have a neutral foot (with a normal or medium arch), your foot rolls slightly inwards (you pronate normally) as you place your foot on the ground. Runners with neutral feet should choose neutral shoes (or cushioned shoes). You can also run in shoes for mild pronation (i.e. mild stability shoes).
Over-pronation: If your foot rolls too much inward when your foot strikes the ground, you are an overpronator. You need stability shoes. The amount of stability depends on the amount of pronation. Stability shoes are available for mild, through to moderate, and severe pronation.
If you have severe overpronation, you will need a motion control shoe.
Supination: If you are a supinator (also called an under-pronator), you have a high arch. Your foot will roll outward on foot strike. You need neutral (also called cushioned) shoes.
Wet foot test
So far, so good. But how do your feet match with one of these three types?
The best way to find out is to do a wet foot test. Dip a foot in water, drip dry, then stand on a sheet of paper that will leave a mark. Brown paper is good.
The mark the foot leaves behind will tell you whether you have a normal arch, little or no arch, or a high arch. (Look at the illustrations on this page.)
It's worth repeating. If you have a normal arch, you have neutral feet, and will be fine in neutral (cushioned) shoes or shoes for mild pronation (i.e. mild stability shoes).
If you have flat feet, i.e. a very low or no arch, you need stability shoes. If your are extremely flat-footed and your foot rolls inward excessively on foot strike, you need motion control shoes.
If you have a high arch (i.e. are a supinator), you will run most comfortably in neutral (cushioned) shoes.
The diagrams and video clips on this page will help you make the right choice. If you can get to a running store, they will run through all this with you and make sure you buy the right shoes for your feet.
Do not trust Foot Locker, Athlete's Foot, or any of the mall-type sports stores. They are not runners, and nor are their staff trained to help runners.