Learn about the Runner’s Test for Pronation or Supination. (Pics. below.)
If you run and want to keep at it, eventually you need to know your foot type. Do you pronate, supinate, or do something in between? If your running shoe isn’t built for your foot type, running will become more difficult and you’ll potentially develop pain in the feet, ankles, knees and hips. Perhaps even in the calves, which is my issue these days. (No longer… see “UPDATE” at bottom.)
TODAY IS an aerobic day, meaning that as opposed to a day designated to do resistance training (weight lifting, calisthenics and the like) or yoga, it’s time do work the cardiovascular system.
For me, this is moderate aerobic activity, which would be biking or “slogging” at a pace where I could talk without too much discomfort, interspaced by surges to get my heart rate pumping near maximum for a minute or more.
“Slogging” for the uninitiated or young, is running reductionism, two levels removed.
In years past, I actually ran without any subsequent ill effects, like knee pain, hip pain, calf pain. As time passed and a gray hair or two flowered, my running was reduced to jogging, accompanied to some degree by one or more of the above mentioned “ill effects”.
Now, mostly, I slog. Slogging is the next reduction down from jogging, and two removed from running. I try to slog twice a week, and, yes, it can result in one or more of the ill effects.
OK, with all that said, I peered at my sorry looking running shoes this morning, which were always the wrong shoes for me, and thought, “Maybe a new pair of running shoes will reduce the ill effects and edge up my slogging to jogging.”
Hope springs eternal.
Accordingly, I jumped online to find a good pair of runners. This time, I was determined to find the “right” pair, the shoe that fit me, and that – finally – is the real crux of this story, which is:
Too many people (like me) buy the wrong running shoe because they don’t know whether they are pronators or supinators.
Do you know which one you are?
Do you select running shoes based on pronation or supination?
It’s worth knowing about this. Most running shoes tend to compensate for pronation, because most people have this issue. Lucky them. But if you’re like me, you’re a supinator and thus wearing a shoe built for pronators will potentially wreck havoc on your body. As they say, one body part is connected to another, kinda like links in a chain, so if you’re out of balance in your feet, your ankles, knees, hips, etc. can be deleteriously affected.
A Test for Pronation and Supination
The following information about a test to determine pronation or supination comes to us courtesy of Runner’s World. Here’s what to do:
1) Pour a thin layer of water into a shallow pan
2) Wet the sole of your foot.
3) Step onto a shopping bag or a blank piece of heavy paper.
4) Step off and look down
Observe the shape of your foot and match it with one of the foot types shown below. 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.
Normal (medium) Arch
If 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
If 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.
(This one’s me.) 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.
Identify Which is You
For those of you who are wondering if it’s worth getting up and finding some cardboard, extracting your feet from their socks, etc., check out these next images.
Perhaps if you identify with one of them and think, “Hey, I haven’t been paying attention to getting runners that fit my foot type, and maybe that’s why: a) I hate running, b) I stopped running, c)I hurt running”, then you’ll become sufficiently innervated to get your feet wet.
Which one is you?
By the way, I continue to search for the perfect supinating shoe for moi, so I can once again be fleet of foot and impervious to aches and pain.
Hope springs eternal.
UPDATE: No longer have calf issues, in part, due to these stretches brought to you by MobilityWod.com.
Published on June 3, 2011