Foot types and proper running shoes

There are three basic foot types, each being based on the height of your arches.  Knowing your foot type, and the proper type of running shoe can make a world of difference not only in comfort and performance, but also for long term care and injury prevention.

Quite simply, prevention (getting the right type of gear) is much cheaper than repair (Chiropractor/Podiatrist/Corrective Exercise Specialist et al visits.)

Take the Test


Wet Test


1) Pour a thin layer of water into a shallow pan

Wet Test


2) Wet the sole of your foot.



Wet Test


3) Step onto a shopping bag or a blank piece of heavy paper.

Wet Test


4) Step off and look down

Observe the shape of your foot and match it with one of the foot types at the bottom of the page. Although other variables (such as your weight, biomechanics, weekly mileage, and fit preferences) come into play, knowing your foot type is the first step toward finding the right shoe for you

Meet your feet

Normal (medium) Arch

Wet TestIf you see about half of your arch, you have the most common foot type and are considered a normal pronator. Contrary to popular belief, pronation is a good thing. 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.

Flat (low) Arch
Wet TestIf you see almost your entire footprint, you have a flat foot, which means you’re probably an overpronator. That is, a micro-second after footstrike, your arch collapses inward too much, resulting in excessive foot motion and increasing your risk of injuries. 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.
High Arch
Wet Test If you see just your heel, the ball of your foot, and a thin line on the outside of your foot, you have a high arch, the least common foot type. 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

 My trainer Chris’s shoe buying tips:

(1) Realize shoe size and fit differ from brand to brand.  A size 10 K-Swiss fits slightly different from a Size 10 Adidas, Asics, New Balance, Reebok, Nike or Puma. Sometimes that difference can be as much as a half-size up or down.

(2) Try on shoes later in the day, after walking around for awhile so that your feet have had a chance to plump up.

(3) Remember than running shoes should fit slightly bigger than casual shoes.  Running shoes should have roughly a thumbs width room from the longest toe to the shoe front.

(4) The shoe should feel secure mid-foot, but not overly tight.

(5) Running shoes are not the shoe of choice for weightlifting, and wearing the same shoe for both will degrade the shoe at a faster pace. 

(6) Minimalist shoes need to be broken in by taking short walks and allowing your feet and walking/running gait a change to learn how to move in them properly.

(7) There should be no slip-and-slide action in the heel.

(8) Heavy and long distance runners should have a few pairs of shoes.  

(9) Keep the original box and mark the purchase date.  Change out your shoes at the recommended mileage.

(10) Get out there…run and have fun!  There is nothing quite as sad as a good pair of running shoes with low to no mileage on them.


2 thoughts on “Foot types and proper running shoes

  1. Pingback: The 4Fs of Proper Footwear | Run, Walk, Live in Springfield, Virginia

  2. Pingback: Running Shoes - The Ultimate Guide

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