Running shoes have the ability to help runners to be the best runners within their capabilities, or to doom runners to injury. The key to avoiding running injuries is to select an appropriate pair of running shoes for your gait. Determining the amount of pronation that you exhibit while running is the first step to finding running nirvana. |
What Is Pronation?
Pronation is the inward rolling of the foot as weight transitions from the heel to the balls of the feet during the gait cycle. Pronation is primarily an issue of concern for runners who strike the ground with their heel when taking a forward step. For these runners, some pronation is good and helps distribute the force of running over the many bones of the forefoot. Too much or too little pronation can cause a wide variety of running injuries including plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, shin splints, stress fractures, runners knee, and ITB syndrome.
Determining Your Degree Of Pronation
The best way to determine if you overpronate or underpronate while running is to videotape your feet from behind while running on a treadmill at your normal running pace in a neutral, non-supportive running shoe. Many local running stores have treadmills with video cameras setup for this purpose. Compare the angle of your ankle are to this photo to determine if you overpronate and to what degree.
If you land on the outside of your foot and your foot does not roll inward even a little, you could be an underpronator. Some pronation is necessary to distribute the force of running over a larger surface area of the foot. Runners with this type of gait are susceptible to stress fractures along with knee and hip pain due to higher than normal forces exerted on the feet, knee and hip joints. Underpronating runners should look for a shoe with little or no arch support and lots of soft cushioning in the midsole.
Some runners are born biomechanically efficient with the right amount of pronation in their gait. For these runners, a neutral running shoe is the best option. Efficient runners do not require much support, or cushioning, and these features only add weight to a running shoe.
If you find that your ankle turns slightly inward, you could be a moderate overpronator. Runners with this gait usually benefit from running in a stability running shoe. Stability shoes can be constructed on a straight or curved last, depending on the amount of pronation control required. Another common feature of stability running shoes is the use of a higher density material in the arch of the shoe. This higher density material provides additional arch support in the shoe.
Runners who are severe overpronators display a shocking amount of inward roll with each step. For these runners, the best choice of running shoe is a motion control running shoe. Motion control shoes are designed on a straight last to provide a solid, stable foundation that can be helpful for runners with orthotics. These running shoes usually have large, sometimes plastic, arch supports and bars in the sole to inhibit lateral motion and twisting of the shoe.
With a little knowledge of how your foot strikes the ground, you can easily determine the type of shoe that will work best for you. Once you have determined what type of shoe you need, you can try on various models of running shoes by different shoe manufacturers to find that is most comfortable. Find the right shoe and get out there and set a new personal record!
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