As runners, we all started somewhere and we were all beginners at sometime. There are all sorts of different runners that run for different reasons and like to run different distances. Everyone is unique and we all come in different shapes and sizes. Runners feet differ too and of course their running styles, so no matter what level of runner you are it is so important to know how to choose the right running shoes.
This process will not only make you more comfortable and help you on your way to improving your runs, but crucially it will also help you to stay injury free.
The 3 Different Runner Types
There are three distinct different running styles:
- The overpronator or severe overpronator
- The neutral pronator
- The supinator/ underpronator
This is often recognized as a flattening or rolling in of the foot. Pronation occurs as weight is transferred from the heel to the forefoot when walking or running and the foot naturally rolls inwards. A certain amount of this is natural but in many people the foot rolls in too much or over pronates. When standing, pronation occurs as the foot rolls inwards and the arch of the foot flattens, hence the term often used to describe someone who over pronates as having ‘flat feet’. Pronation is a normal and helps to provide shock absorption at the foot. The opposite movement to pronation is called supination.
How do You Know if You Overpronate?
- Look at your feet in standing, have you got a clear arch on the inside of the foot? If there is not an arch and the innermost part of the sole touches the floor, then your feet are overpronated.
- Look at your running shoes. If they are worn on the inside of the sole in particular, then pronation may be a problem for you.
What Shoes Should You Wear if You Overpronate or Severely Overpronate?
The ideal shoes for overpronators are motion control shoes which consist of 10% of all runners. Severe overpronators require stability shoes which are 60% of all runners. They are the most supportive and controlling, and are designed to slow down excessive pronation. They include features like higher density materials and carbon rubber outer soles for durability and are built on a straight mould, which offers maximum ground contact and stability. This all helps to slow the rate of over pronation and reduce injury.
The Neutral Pronator
30% of runners are neutral pronators. You strike the floor with your heel, then while you roll towards the toes, your arch lightly collapses inward absorbing the impact.
What Shoes Should You Wear if You Are a Neutral Pronator?
Neutral or cushioned shoes are the order of the day here. They generally have no motion control features and are lighter. They are built on a curved or semi curved cast to encourage faster movement and feel softer under-foot. If you have a neutral foot type but are over 13 stone in weight, consider structured cushioned/ stability shoes, which offer a little more support.
The Supinator/ Underpronator
If you notice excessive wear on the outside of your shoes, you may be guilty of supination. This is the insufficient inward roll of the foot after you land. This places extra stress on the and can result in injuries in the knees, Achilles and plantar fasciitis (heel pain). Runners with high arches and tight Achilles tendons tend to be supinators/ underpronators. Shoes will wear out on the entire outside edge, and the side of the shoe becomes overstretched. If you place shoes on a flat surface, they tilt outward.
What Shoes Should You Wear if You Are a Supinator/ Underpronator?
Neutral/ cushioned shoes are best here. If you are an underpronator you are one of the 30% of runners. These shoes offer a good blend of motion control and cushioning. They are not as heavy and controlling as maximum support running shoes for overpronators, but still offer excellent support. This is the most popular category of training/ running shoes and are generally built to offer ground contact stability.
The Barefoot Runner
This is called barefoot running as it is the act of running without shoes. This is the most natural form of running and this is how all our ancestors were running before shoes were invented. If you can imagine running without any footwear on a sandy beach, this is how you would run all the time, on any surface. It is not a natural way for most humans to run as they have been accustomed over the years to run with the aid and the support of shoes. This is supposed to be the most efficient way of running, and for the lucky few that have always run this way, the footwear is very different.
What Shoes Should You Wear if You Run Barefoot?
Well none of course, right? Yes and no. If you have been running this way for years, then yes. However if you want to learn and adapt your running to this style then you will need to go about it gradually and have the right minimalist shoes.
In footwear, the barefoot runner needs no support and the bare minimum in technology and features. Minimalist and zero-drop shoes (heel to toe – no height difference). The idea behind them is to allow your foot to land on the ground in the same motion as though you were running barefoot, but at the same time to provide some protection.
It is so Important to Choose The Right Running Shoes
As with many things in life, practice makes perfect and it may take you two or three different types of running shoes for you to find the one that you feel most comfortable in, and that will allow you to maximise your ability and achieve the goals you want. Shoe manufacturers have incorporated a lot of technology over the years and adapted new materials into their shoes in order to make the most adapted shoe to your unique foot. Manufacturers are now almost going full circle, with more and more of them developing and releasing into the market, minimalist shoes with fewer materials, less cushioning and less technology. The idea is to help runners and athletes transition from the supported runner to the barefoot runner.
Whatever category of runner you fall into, the most important thing to make the most of your running is to choose the right running shoe for you!
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