Friday, 16 September 2016

Arches and Pronation

One of the most discussed topics among runners is 'finding the right runner', and I regularly get asked questions about this. It's almost impossible to tell somebody what type runner would be best for them, as there are a lot of factors (running style, width of your foot, body weight, the level of cushioning each runner likes, etc.).

The easier of the guides to give to people is how their foot arches will affect their foot strike, and therefore what type of cushioning / support they should look for.

How Arches affect Pronation

Pronation is the way your foot rolls inwards when you run or walk. It occurs at the joint below the ankle, the subtalar joint. Different arch types will typically lead to different pronation types. For example if you have a very flat foot, you are more likely to Overpronate. Here's the summary guide:


How to tell what type of Arches you have (the Wet test)

Typically you can go into a "good" running shop and they should be able to judge your foot strike to determine whether you underpronate, overpronate or are neutral. However, there is a simple test that you can do at home which will tell how what type of arches you have (and give you a decent guide to your foot strike), it's called "The Wet Test"

Fill a basin of water and place a piece of (dark) paper beside it. Step into the water with your bare foot, then step onto the paper and off again. Look at the footprint you leave to give you an indication of the arch type you have. Here's the guide:


Finding the Shoe to suit your foot

As alluded to earlier, your pronation type is only one indicator of what you might need from a running shoe. You will also need to test for shoe width, toebox space, general comfort, etc. However, most running shoes these days will come designed for a particular pronation type. And if not, a good running shop will be able to guide you.

Some examples:

I have always been an Underpronator, and found the Asics Cumulus range ideal for me. I started running in Cumulus 11's, but they have recently released the Cumulus 18's, which I haven't tried yet.



I also have the new Asics FuzeX (reviewed here) mainly for Neutral Pronation, which I use for training (but keep my Cumulus for longer distances).

Finally to complete the range, Asics just released their latest version of the Gel Kayano range, 23. This would be one of their best known runners for Overpronators (but I've never tried these):

In fact most running companies now have different ranges depending on the level of pronation you have, e.g. mild overpronator versus severe overpronator. Here are some more examples:

Overpronator runners:
  • Nike LunarGlide
  • Mizuno Wave Paradox
  • Saucony Omni
Underpronator runners:
  • Nike Zoom Vomero
  • New Balance 1080

Neutral Pronator runners:
  • Brooks Ghost
  • Adidas Supernova

Finally - Most Important

The wet test is really just a simple "home method" to indicate your arch type. Really, you want to speak to an expert, and probably do a full gait analysis (where you can gauge the strike of your foot during movement, rather than standing). Usually a good runners shop can do this for you. At some point next week, Sean from @runningmatters_ on Twitter will post more detailed information.

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