A Runner’s Guide To Foot Type & Shoe Fit

by Dr. Jeffrey Ross, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S.

Knowing your foot type and the biomechanics that take place during running can be of great value when attempting to select the right running shoe. A great shoe for one runner may be completely wrong for another. If we all had the same feet and they functioned the same, we would all choose the same shoe.

By now, most runners are familiar with the three various foot types: the flat foot, where overpronation usually takes place; the normal foot type, where a normal amount of pronation occurs; and the high arched foot, where the foot under pronates.

Most runners can determine if they pronate sufficiently by examining their arch height. Another way to test is to wet the foot, stand on a dry surface, and evaluate the footprint that is created. The flat or low arched foot will show a greater surface volume, and its print will show a complete arch. The normal arch will effect a mild scooped-out arch area, whereas the high arched foot will demonstrate a hollowed out arch, barely to the opposite side.

What exactly does pronation mean? After the heel lands on the ground (heel strike), usually to the outside, the foot then rolls inward slightly to a neutral position, making full contact with the ground. This is the mid-stance phase of running gait. Now comes the time for pronation: as the foot begins to roll inwards and downward, it begins to pronate. Now, this is a vital motion for the foot due to the fact that it provides for propulsion and impacts shock absorption.

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Tips For Buying New Running Shoes

by Coach Michael Merlino

Sure there is a lot more to running than meets the eye but we can all agree that the most important thing to get right is your shoes.

I always say running is all about the shoes. So if you are still slogging around in the shoes you raced and trained in last year it’s about time to get out and get a fresh pair.

One of the biggest reasons I see runners get injured is running in worn out shoes with no cushioning or life left in them.

So here are a few shoe tips to try on for size the next time you go shopping at your local running specialty store.  If you live in Houston we highly recommend shopping at any of the Houston area Fleet Feet stores for your running shoes and gear

  • Log the date of purchase and the miles you put on each pair – Many experts say to limit miles to 500 miles or so but In Houston,  I like to jack that down to 300 – 350 miles due to our hot climate.  The Houston heat, humidity and the added amount of sweat breaks down shoes much faster.

  • Use the wobble test – This is a little test I learned from my good friend, running podiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Ross.  When you narrow your choice down to your top shoe pair pick set both shoes on a flat surface and thump each one with your finger.  If the shoe wobbles or sets unevenly on a flat surface request another pair.  If the shoe comes out of the box with a wobble chances are it will not wear evenly and may create problems down the road.

  • If you have your favorite model buy two pairs and alternate between them – This approach will allow you to get more wear out of each pair of shoes.

  • After each run pull the inserts out of the shoe so they dry out quicker – This limits the amount of moisture, salt, sweat etc that can potentially absorb into your shoes and break them down much quicker.

  • Only use your running shoes for running – Not shopping, not cross fit, not playing soccer or driveway hoops with your kids, only quality running miles. Use your old running shoes or buy some cross trainers for other none running activities so you don’t limit the life of your running shoes

  • Forget about making a fashion statement. Make your decision on the best fit – Ladies this is more for you but if you love pink and the shoes that fit you like a glove are lime green go with the lime green. A runner diva somewhere is rolling her eyes at me now but ti’s about the fit, not the fashion. Form and function wins out over fashion any day and prevents injury along the way.

  • Off season is a good time to experiment with shoes – Stick your neck out and try a new brand or model. Off season, usually spring time in Houston after our Marathon in late January, is the best time to experiment before the miles build for your next big race fall or winter race.

  • Buy shoes for a variety of running purposes – You may find that one shoe works better for long runs, a lighter weight minimalist shoe works better for short runs, trail shoes work better on trails and hills and a racing flat for track workouts.  It does put more of a hit on your budget but a shoe for each purpose with your training can put less load on the body, keep you out of the doctor’s office and save you money in the end.

  • If you get wind that your shoe manufacturer is discontinuing your favorite model jump on-line and buy an extra pair or two – Just don’t over do it because even brand new shoes that sit in the closet too long with no wear will still loose their bounce.  Also,  talk to your local running store for updates on the latest shoe offerings and which shoes will be discontinued so you can plan ahead for future training choices.