Shoe Selection and Your Foot-Type

Put Your Best Foot Forward…The Importance of Shoe Selection for Your Foot-Type!



This time of year is always a popular time for runners to get out and prepare for the upcoming race season.  Running is a very popular sport with over 15 million Americans who are considered frequent participants in the sport.  Due to the high impact nature of running it is an activity with a relatively high rate of injury.  Many injuries are a result of improper footwear.  The lifespan of a typical running shoe is approximately 300-500 miles depending on the individual’s weight, running style, and biomechanics.   If an average runner logs 20-30 miles per week a shoe will likely need to be replaced as soon as 3-4 months.  Most runners will probably replace running shoes three times a year.  After 500 miles a running shoe will likely lose 50% of its shock absorption capacity even though the shoe may not show significant signs of wear!  Even more critical is determining which type of running shoe is right for you.  Running shoes are most commonly divided into three categories: neutral/cushioned, stability, and motion control.  Depending on your foot type and level of pronation you can determine which shoe is right for you.  Typically, individuals with a high arch and rigid foot type will be considered underpronators and will usually do best in a neutral/cushioned running shoe.  This will allow for maximal cushioning and reduce the risk of injuries such as stress fractures or joint pain in the ankle, knee, hip, or low back.  Individuals with normal arches who pronate a normal amount will usually do well in a neutral/cushioned shoe or a low level stability shoe depending on comfort level.  Runners with flat feet who typically are considered overpronators do better in a high level stability shoe or a motion control shoe.  These shoes offer maximal support but tend to be more bulky and sacrifice cushioning for support.  Common problems in overpronaters include plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, patellofemoral pain syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome, and hip bursitis to name a few.  To determine which specific running shoe is right for you it is recommended you consult a specialty running shoe store.  If you are currently a runner experiencing an injury related to running it is recommended you consult a physician or physical therapist specializing in the treatment of runners.  A comprehensive evaluation can determine if your running shoe may be a contributing factor to your injury.  In some cases a video analysis may be beneficial in deciding which running shoe may be right for you.   Determining the proper running shoe can make the difference between having a rewarding running season or one spent with frustration and disappointment.


Matt Sobolewski, PT is the clinic director for Kinetic Physical Therapy in Collegeville at the Providence Town Center 610-831-5205.