Choosing the right shoes for your running style
Do your feet hurt when running or are the heels of your running shoes worn down on one side? You could be suffering from the effects of excessive pronation.
Pronation is how your body responds to ground forces while running and walking. Over and under pronation can cause foot pain as other parts of your body try to compensate.
Pronation can be corrected and long-term injuries avoided with a suitable pair of running shoes. We take a look at what's available below.
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The types of pronation
It's estimated that 20-30% of runners are neutral pronators; are you one of them? Neutral pronators usually land on their heels and roll slightly inward towards their toes. This is a healthy amount of pronation that is unlikely to cause you too many problems.
- What to look out for: Even wear across the heel of your shoes and standard arch height.
- Ideal running shoes: Standard, cushioned shoes will suit most neutral pronators.
If your big toes seem to be doing most of the work while running, it could be that you over pronate. Over pronation leads to the inside of your feet absorbing most of the impact, making it difficult for your ankles to balance the rest of your body.
- What to look out for: Excessive wear on the inside of each heel, flatter feet and wear beneath your big toes.
- Ideal running shoes: Dedicated over pronation running shoes or specialist orthotics.
Also known as supination, the feet of under pronators do not flex enough to provide the necessary shock absorption needed for running. This can make impact with the ground feel hard and lead to later foot, ankle, hip and knee problems.
- What to look out for: Wear towards the outside of the heels. Under pronators generally have higher arches, minimising contact with the ground.
- Ideal running shoes: Look for shoes designed with under pronators in mind that provide additional stability and support. Shoes with neutral cushioning are perfect.
What you can do to avoid injury
Buy specialist running shoes
As we looked at above, the type of shoes that you wear can affect the extent of your pronation. Whether you're flat footed, high-arched or neutral, wearing the right kind of footwear will help to protect your feet and correct your body shape as you run.
Take off your shoes!
The human body is designed to adapt to the world around us. By taking off your shoes and walking/running barefoot, you're giving your feet a chance to recognise the environment and learn to run differently. Obviously, this isn't always possible, but just a couple of hours a week could make a noticeable difference.
Listen to your body
Running is tiring and normal aches and pains should be expected. But when those minor niggles turn into bigger problems, it's time to seek help. Don't wait until it's too late and injury rules you out of the big race you've trained so hard for.
Choosing the best running shoes