As a runner, your shoes are the most important equipment you own. They cushion your strides, protect your feet, and can make the difference between a comfortable run and a painful one. One of the most overlooked aspects when choosing running shoes is pronation. Yet, it significantly impacts your running performance and injury risk. So, what is pronation, and how does it affect your choice of running shoes? Let’s explore!
Pronation is a natural part of the running cycle. It refers to how your foot rolls inward to distribute the impact when it hits the ground. Ideally, the foot should roll about 15 percent inward – a mechanism that helps to support the body’s weight and allows for effective push-off.
There are three types of pronation:
Neutral Pronation: This is when your foot rolls inward at a healthy degree, providing an even distribution of weight and impact.
Overpronation is when your foot rolls more than the ideal 15 percent inwardly, causing your foot and ankle to struggle to stabilize your body effectively.
Underpronation/Supination: Here, your foot doesn’t roll inward enough, which can cause the outer part of your foot to take most of the shock when landing.
Each pronation type requires different shoe support to prevent injury and provide comfort while running.
Effects of Pronation on Running
Your pronation type can significantly impact your running style, comfort, and risk of injury. For example, overpronation can lead to injuries like shin splints, bunions, heel pain, or plantar fasciitis. On the other hand, underpronation can cause stress fractures, ankle strain, or iliotibial band syndrome due to the lack of proper shock absorption.
Choosing the Right Running Shoes
The key to choosing the right running shoes is understanding your pronation type. A gait analysis, typically performed at a specialized running store, can help determine your pronation style and guide your shoe selection.
Neutral Pronators: Look for shoes with moderate arch support that balances cushioning and stability.
Overpronators: Shoes with more structure and support, often labelled as “stability” or “motion control” shoes, will help distribute each step’s impact more evenly.
Underpronators/Supinators: Shoes with lots of cushioning and flexibility can help counter the lack of natural shock absorption.
Remember, the goal is to find a running shoe that matches and supports your unique foot mechanics, promoting a more comfortable and efficient stride.
When it comes to pronation and choosing running shoes, several myths need busting:
Everyone needs motion-control shoes: That’s not true. Only overpronators need extra support to prevent excessive inward foot rolling.
Underpronation is better than overpronation: Not necessarily. Both can lead to injuries if not addressed properly through correct footwear.
Pronation doesn’t matter in short distances: Incorrect. Your pronation type can affect comfort levels and injury risk, even for short runs.
Understanding your pronation type is not just for professional athletes—it’s for anyone who wants to make running a part of their lifestyle. Choosing the right pair of running shoes based on your pronation type can boost your performance, ensure a more comfortable run, and, most importantly, lower the risk of injuries. It’s a small step towards a safer and more enjoyable running journey. So, strap on the right shoes, hit the track, and enjoy the run!
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