What Are The Best Running Shoes For Your Type of Feet?

Over the past few years there has been a trend in the running world toward minimalistic shoes. A minimalistic shoe is defined as a shoe that allows the foot to function as close to its natural state as possible. They are generally manufactured with less cushioning and support – overall much less material than standard running shoes.

Best Running Shoes

There are two primary reasons for this trend. Firstly, the minimalistic shoe is lighter. The energy saved from this decreased weight can ideally be used towards running – not carrying a heavy shoe. Secondly, functioning with “less shoe” can theoretically promote increased strength, balance and overall biomechanics. The idea is to allow our feet to do most of the work and rely less on the shoe.

But with such a wide range in foot types, the minimalistic shoes may work against you as well. Some people require more support and/or cushioning in order to function at a pain free, injury free level. The purpose of this blog is to give an overview of general foot types and what to look for in a running shoe.

Best Running Shoes for Normal Arched Feet

With a “normal” arch, the foot functions in a neutral position. Normal biomechanics during our gait cycle result in the foot rolling outward (supinated) during heel strike and rolling inward (pronated) during mid-stance. This flexion of the arch is what provides our feet with shock absorption during walking or running.

Runners and walkers with a normal arch tend to do well with lightweight or cushioned shoes. People with this foot type may do well in the previously mentioned minimalistic shoes. A few examples of these are New Balance Minimus, Nike Free, Brooks Pure Drift, Merrell Run Bare Access 2 and Saucony Kinvara. All of these shoes provide a light- weight feel, but do so with minimal support and limited cushioning. For more shock absorption, a neutral foot type can also do well in a high cushion shoe.

Best running shoes, over pronation, under pronated

Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet and Overpronators

With a flat feet or over pronation, the foot and ankle may have difficulty stabilizing the body and shock isn’t efficiently absorbed. This causes additional stress, which can lead stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, tendon injury, abnormal joint motion and many other problems.

When looking for an appropriate shoe for a flat foot, one should focus on support. More specifically, medial support or support to the inside of the foot. As the foot tends to roll inwards more, the support will help control this over-pronation. In many cases the support supplied by a shoe isn’t enough and orthotics may be necessary to control excessive pronation.

The shoe types that are helpful for a flatfoot are stability shoes or motion control shoes. These provide support to the inside of the foot much more than shoes with a focus on cushioning. Some of the more common stability shoes are Asics Kayano, Nike Zoom Structure, Brooks Adrenaline and Saucony Omni. These are just a few examples of the many that fall into the stability shoe category. A motion controlled shoe is even more supportive than stability shoes. Brooks Beast and New Balance 1540 are examples of motion controlled shoes.

Both stability and motion control shoes provide additional support to the inside arch and cushioning throughout. With over pronation being a main factor in many chronic foot problems, these shoes are extremely helpful in avoiding injury during running or other athletic activities.

Best Running shoes for flat feeu, high arch running shoes

Best Running Shoes for High Arched Feet and Underpronators

With a high arch the foot does not undergo the normal pronation required for adequate shock absorption. A high arch foot functions in a more rigid state and lacks flexion of the arch typically seen in a normal arch. Because of this, the focus in high arched feet is cushioning.

When the foot functions in a supinated (high arch) position the foot is a very poor shock absorber. Stress fractures, tendon injury and ankle sprains can be very common with this foot type. In cases of increased ankle instability or injury, ankle bracing or orthotics may be used to add additional support on the outside of the foot.

Cushion shoes that are commonly used in high arch foot types are the Asics Nimbus, Brooks Ghost, and Nike Air Pegasus. These all provide high cushioning which is very important in high arch feet.

It is important to remember that running shoes are constantly changing from year to year and one shoe is not necessarily best for everyone. To find the best shoe for you and your feet, a thorough biomechanical exam by a knowledgeable foot and ankle physician may be necessary. Selecting the appropriate shoe is a crucial step in accommodating different foot types and avoiding injuries.

If you have any questions regarding the right running shoe for you, we encourage you to call us at (877) 989-9110 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com.

Dr. Jason Morris

Dr. Jason Morris

Dr. Jason Morris graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University (where he ran on the track and cross country teams), and went on to complete his medical training at Des Moines University and a three-year comprehensive foot and ankle surgical residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. His emphasis was on sports medicine, foot and ankle trauma, reconstructive surgery and diabetic limb salvage.

As an avid athlete, Dr. Morris developed a special interest in preventative medicine and treatment of sports related injuries. He also has extensive experience in foot and ankle trauma, reconstructive surgery and arthroscopy. In addition, Dr. Morris currently works as a consultant for several companies specializing in joint implants for feet and ankles.
Dr. Jason Morris

6 comments

  1. Please write more on this topic as I go through shoes like fish go through water! 🙂

  2. I have low arches but underpronate. I realize this is opposite of the average, but I’ve been diagnosed by many a doctor and a podiatrist. What type of running shoe do you suggest for me? Also, I have narrow feet… Thanks! 🙂

    • Dr. Jason Morris

      Mindy, thank you for your question.

      Over pronation and low arches/flatfeet tend to coexist together as do high arches and under pronation (supination). All people pronate (roll inwards) to some degree. It is the body’s natural shock absorption. But when you have a low arch the joint mechanics allow for the foot to be more flexible than it should be and that results in excessive pronation. When you have a high arch the joints tend to lock and limit motion. Having a low arch and under pronating is a rare combination. Reasons for these unique biomechanics could come by looking into such things as curvature of the lower leg, knee and hip alignment or structural conditions in the foot limiting motion of the joints.

      A good shoe for a foot that under pronates, thus having limited shock absorption, is a neutral or cushioned running shoe. Each company will have differences in how they fit, but most come in narrow widths. In women’s running shoes this would be designated by an A size (B is standard and D is wide). How the shoe fits in the heel and through the arch are going to be specific for each shoe and will be based on personal comfort. Some of the more popular and highest rated neutral running shoes are Brooks Ghost, Asics Nimbus, Sacony Triumph and Mizuno Wave Creation. Keep in mind there are hundreds of shoes available and how they fit should be equally important to any brand or style recommendation.

      The key to getting the proper running shoe is how the foot functions through gait. A thorough gait analysis and evaluation of wear patterns on your shoes would be extremely helpful in identifying the correct type of shoe given the bio-mechanical opposition of low arches an under pronation.

      Mindy, once again, thank you for reading our blog and asking your question. We trulytry to make it relevant and actionable, and I hope we have done that for you.

      Run safe!

      Dr. Jason Morris

      • Love this. I also am a low arch and under-pronate runner good to know . I always felt that if I addressed the arch the pronation is not as much of a problem

  3. My experience is that all sizing charts mean nothing. There are so many differences as to brand, model, width etc. that there is only one real solution, to try the shoe on. If you can’t, then it is always safer to go for half a size bigger. But I’m only a size 7, so perhaps also widths completely change when going that big because 14 is humongous. Awesome!

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