Pronation, or the way your foot turns when you run and walk, should be an important factor when you choose your running shoes. Not all shoes are created equal, and you may need to do a little homework to determine which shoes will work best for you.
If you don’t already have a tried-and-true favorite pair, consider going to a running or fitness specialty store to try on some new shoes. First things first: find out if you overpronate, underpronate, or if you have a neutral pronation. A running store may be able to examine your existing shoes and help you determine this if you don’t already know.
In general, if you see wear on the inside of the soles and the big toe, you may be overpronating, or excessively turning the foot inward. Underpronation, or supination, usually shows more wear on the outside of the shoe. A neutral pronator should have fairly even wear on the soles.
Overpronation: what to look for
If you overpronate, you’ll likely need shoes that have a firm midsole and a straight or semi-curved last. To determine the last of a shoe, look at the bottom. A straight last should look straight from heel to toes, whereas a curved last will have a slight “C” shape that bends in at the arch area. A semi-curved last is somewhere in the middle with a very subtle “C” shaped sole.
A straight or semi-curved last provides more arch support for people who have flat feet or low arches and can help prevent overpronation. If you need additional arch support, ask your podiatrist about an over-the-counter insole or orthotic.
Some possible shoe choices for overpronation:
Brooks® Adrenaline ASR
Underpronation: what to look for
Underpronators need the opposite of overpronators. They should look for a curved last that has a defined “C” shape in the sole. This provides less support in the arch, allowing the foot to curve inward for a more neutral pronation. Also look for shoes that are more lightweight and flexible, allowing for more foot motion and flexibility.
Some possible shoe choices for underpronation:
Nike® Flex Experience Run 4
adidas® Energy Bounce™
New Balance® W680v3
If your pronation is neutral and you don’t have foot problems, you can choose the shoes that feel best to you. They shouldn’t rub or cause blisters, and your arches should feel supported but comfortable. Trying shoes on in a running store is best, so you can get a feel for what you like before you purchase.
These are just a few of the hundreds of types of shoes available for all foot types and pronation styles. Not only do you need to choose the right shoes, but you should replace them at the first signs of wear. A good pair of running shoes is essential to keeping your feet healthy and avoiding injury.