With my Plantar Fasciitis in full effect, I started doing some extensive research on running shoes and which ones I should be wearing. In all honesty, I’ve never really focused on the type of shoe in terms of over-pronation versus under-pronation. Instead, I have always gone for the Asics running shoe that is on the higher end of their options and that looks pretty. Pretty sad huh? I mean who would have thought a serious runner would ever admit that? Well I just did.
I’ve been pretty lucky with the injuries – not having too many – especially not in the foot area…and that’s my excuse for letting these details slide when choosing a running shoe. Well, with the strain in my foot, this can no longer be the case for me. And I suggest you follow my lead to prevent any potential future injuries for yourself! For the past year I’ve been running in the Asics GEL-Kayanos – which are great shoes – but if you do the research you will find they are for overpronators or neutral runners – and not for me, the underpronator. Big mistake!
And with that, here are a few tips to keep in mind when purchasing your next pair of shoes:
1. Figure out what type of runner you are: Neutral, Overpronator or Underpronator. If you are not sure, do the “Wet Test.”
2. Based on your personal foot, choose the right running shoe for you. Options include:
- Neutral Runner: If you don’t underpronate (your feet roll outward when you run) or overpronate (your feet roll inward when you run), then you’re a neutral runner. When the arch collapses inward, this “pronation” absorbs shock. As a normal pronator, you can wear just about any shoe, but may be best suited to a stability shoe that provides moderate arch support (or medial stability). Lightweight runners with normal arches may prefer neutral-cushioned shoes without any added support, or even a performance-training shoe that offers some support but less heft, for a faster feel. Here are some recommended running shoes for neutral runners: Asics Nimbus, Saucony Triumph, Brooks Glycerin, Mizuno Creation, New Balance 759. Shoes specifically engineered for the neutral runner include the Asics GEL-Kinsei. (I included a variety of brands depending on your preference. Try them all on and see which fits best!)
- Overpronator: Common for runners who are overweight or large-framed, as well as those who have “flat” feet. What this means is that the ankle rolls too far inward during the breakover of a stride. This running gait fault can lead to severe stress and damage to the connective tissue of the lower legs and knees. You need either stability shoes, which employ devices such as dual-density midsoles and supportive “posts” to reduce pronation and are best for mild to moderate overpronators, or motion-control shoes, which have firmer support devices and are best for severe overpronators, as well as tall, heavy (over 165 pounds), or bow-legged runners. Recommended shoes for those that overpronate include: Asics GEL-Kayano, GEL-3030
- Underpronator: Common for runners with high arches (me!) and those who have feet which roll more outward than inward while running. This means you’re likely an underpronator, or supinator, which can result in too much shock traveling up your legs, since your arch doesn’t collapse enough to absorb it. Underpronators are best suited to neutral-cushioned shoes because they need a softer midsole to encourage pronation. It’s vital that an underpronator’s shoes have no added stability devices to reduce or control pronation, the way a stability or motion-control shoe would. Runners who under-pronate may experience the following symptoms amongst others: Ankle rollover, Achilles tendonitis, Knee, hip, or lower back pain, and Plantar fasciitis or heel spurs. Recommended shoes: Asics Nimbus, Asics GEL-Cirrus
Still confused? Need more guidance? Stop by a running shoe store that knows their stuff and ask them to take a look at your foot and stride; Or check out this cool Runner’s World shoe advisor. I recommend the following local shops in South Florida: Mind Body Sole, Fit2Run, and Runner’s Edge. And of course the usual Sports Authority, Dick’s and Champs.