By Amanda Lynch, MPT, ATC
To find the best shoe for you, you must first know your foot type. There are three foot types: low arch, neutral arch and high arch. A neutral arch causes the foot to roll in a small amount (also known as pronation). You want a small amount of pronation while running. A low arch causes the foot to excessively roll in (overpronation). Finally, a high arch causes the foot roll to only slightly roll in (underpronation).
An easy way to determine your foot type is to look at the bottom of one of your shoes. If the toes of your shoe and heel show even wear, then you are likely a neutral arch. If the insides of your shoes are more worn down, you likely have a low arch. You likely have a high arch if the outsides of the bottom of your shoes are more worn down. Another method is called the wet test. Wet the underside of your feet and then stand on a piece of paper for 10 seconds. Step off and look at the imprint of your feet. These imprints should look like the wear pattern of your shoes.
Now that you know your foot type, the next step is to look at the three types of shoes: neutral, stability and motion control. A neutral shoe is less structured and lighter and designed for a more neutral arch. A high arch also tends to do well in a more neutral shoe.
A stability shoe is good for a lower arch and provides support and cushion.
Motion control shoes provide maximum support and control. They are more structured and prevent the foot from excessively rolling in. These are ideal for very flat feet.
A few other tips when trying on shoes:
- Find a local running shoe with knowledgeable employees and try on different shoes to find the best one for you.
- It is best to try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet are most full.
- Wear the socks and any arch supports that you would typically wear running.
- Jog in the store to make sure the shoes are comfortable and will provide the correct amount of support.
- You should feel the shoe touching your arch. There should not be a gap.
- Go up a half size in running shoes from your typical shoe size for swelling that can occur when you run.
- Finally, you should replace your running shoes every 400-600 miles or if your feet begin to hurt during a run once you get above 300 miles. This is usually a sign that the cushion is starting to break down.