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Cross Training For Runners

On the Right Foot: How Knowing Your Foot Type Boosts Running

9 Mins read

Trying to figure out your foot type? Well, you’ve come to the right place because I’ve got the ultimate guide to types of runners’ feet just for you.

Let me spill the beans. When it comes to understanding the mechanics of your feet, they can be divided into three main categories: neutral-footed, flat-footed (also known as the overpronator runner), and high-arched (hello, supinator runner!).

If you’re a serious runner who’s eager to up your training game but still on the hunt for that perfect pair of running shoes, it’s crucial to know more about your foot type. Trust me, it makes a world of difference.

Now, here’s the scoop from the running gurus: your pronation type plays a big role in choosing the right running shoe for you. And here’s a little secret—some experts even claim that understanding pronation and its impact on the rest of your body can help you find the shoe that suits you best.

So, my dear reader, buckle up because today I’m going to share everything you need to know about your foot type, what it really means, and which shoe works like magic for each specific foot type.

Sounds great?

Let’s get started

Foot Types for Shoes Explained

Imagine this: behind the scenes of every running shoe design, there’s a team of dedicated researchers, armed with cutting-edge technology and a mission to create the perfect shoe for your precious feet. It’s like a symphony of science and creativity coming together to support your every step.

Now, why is knowing your foot type so important? Well, let me paint you a picture. Picture yourself in a shoe store, staring at rows upon rows of sneakers, feeling overwhelmed and unsure which pair to choose. But fear not! Understanding your foot type is like having a secret decoder ring that unlocks the hidden treasures of the running shoe world.

It’s not just about finding a stylish pair that complements your running attire (although that’s a bonus!). By knowing your foot type, you can improve your running efficiency, uncover the mysteries of your unique running style, and bid farewell to pesky pains and injuries. Say goodbye to heel pain and wave goodbye to the dreaded plantar fasciitis!

But here’s the kicker: it’s not just empty promises. Studies upon studies have shown the correlation between foot type and running-related injuries. Research papers have delved deep into the biomechanics of our feet, uncovering the secrets of how they move and function.

These findings can be your compass, guiding you towards the perfect shoe that fits like a glove (well, like a shoe, you get the idea).

The Wet Test

Picture this: you’re standing in your bathroom, armed with a spray bottle, feeling like a detective about to crack the case of your arch type. Cue the mysterious music!

Now, here’s how you do it. Get that trusty spray bottle filled with water and give the sole of your foot a good spritz. You’re turning your foot into a work of art. Next, step onto a blank piece of paper or even a shopping bag.

Feel the suspense building

And now, for the big reveal! Step off the paper and take a good look at the shape of your footprint. It’s like examining a hidden treasure map, but instead of ‘X’ marking the spot, you’ll find clues about your arch type. Compare your footprint to the diagrams that await you, and voila! You’re one step closer to uncovering whether you’re a neutral runner, an overpronator, or a supinator/underpronator.

But let me be honest with you. The Wet Test, while simple and fun, might not be the ultimate truth. It’s like a fortune teller’s crystal ball—it gives you a glimpse, but it’s not foolproof. Unless you have an extremely low or high arch that practically jumps off the page, interpreting the results might require a bit more finesse.

But don’t fret! It’s not the end of the world (or your running shoe dreams). There are other factors to consider, my friend. Think of it like a recipe for the perfect shoe: your foot type is just one ingredient. Your running style, any previous injuries, and even your personal preferences all play a role in finding the holy grail of running shoes.

Check this article for more.

The Wear & Tear Patterns

The “Wear Test” is another straightforward assessment you can do to determine your arch type.

You’re standing in your room, surrounded by a collection of trusty running shoes that have seen better days. Each pair holds a story, a journey etched into their worn-out soles. It’s time to unlock their secrets and uncover your arch type through the ancient art of the Wear & Tear Test.

Here’s how. Take one of your used and abused running shoes and flip it over, revealing the battle scars on its rubber tread. It’s like deciphering the remnants of a battlefield, but instead of swords and shields, you’ll find the imprints of your unique running style. Take a good look at the wear patterns on the outsole and let the story unfold before your eyes.

Now, let’s say you can’t quite make out a clear and consistent pattern just by glancing at the outsole. Fear not! We have another trick up our sleeves. Place those worn-out warriors on a flat surface, like a table, and observe how they rest. It’s like studying the footprints left behind by a mythical creature, searching for clues to their arch type.

Additional resource – Running shoes for plantar fasciitis

The Pro Option

If you’re yearning for the most accurate assessment, it’s time to seek the guidance of the pros. Picture this: you walk into a clinic, surrounded by high-tech tools that look like they’re straight out of a sci-fi movie. And there, waiting for you, is a professional physician or a sports podiatrist, ready to delve into the mysteries of your feet.

With their expertise, they can evaluate your feet in both static and dynamic positions. It’s like peering into the very essence of your stride, understanding the intricate dance between your feet and the ground. They can determine whether you pronate, to what degree, and unravel the secrets that lie within—crucial information to find that perfect shoe that will carry you through your running adventures.

The Degrees of Pronation—Understanding Pronation

Listen closely to the rhythm of your feet. As they rotate naturally, the degree of rotation, known as pronation, varies from one runner to another. It’s like a spectrum of movement, influenced by the unique anatomical structure of your feet. Picture your foot as a storyteller, and pronation is the protagonist, playing its part in the grand tale of your stride.

So, what exactly is pronation? It’s simply the natural inward roll of your foot as the outside part of the heel connects with the ground. Think of it as your foot’s way of saying, “Hello, Earth, I’m here to take on the world!” Pronation is the hero of the story, perfectly normal and essential for your body’s natural movement.

In fact, studies and research papers have shown that the right amount of pronation is vital. It’s like a magical process that allows your feet to absorb the impact forces of running, which can be up to two to three times your body weight. Imagine the weight of the world coming down on your feet, but fear not! Pronation acts as a trusty shock absorber, dispersing those powerful forces throughout your legs and the rest of your body.

The Problem With Too Much (or too little) Pronation

During this gait cycle, your feet take turns between pronation and supination, creating a rhythmic symphony of motion. Pronation, the inward roll, and supination, the outward motion, play their parts in this waltz of biomechanics.

Now, here’s where the plot thickens. Overpronation enters the stage, making its presence known. It’s like a character with a bit too much enthusiasm, rolling inward excessively. This can put you at risk of overuse injuries, particularly in the knees. But fear not, my friend, for research papers have shown that understanding your foot type and gait mechanics can be your knight in shining armor.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have supination, or as it’s sometimes called, underpronation. This is when the feet don’t roll inward enough. If your feet tend to supinate, you might be prone to overuse injuries, especially in the feet themselves. But worry not, for we shall find a solution.

Here’s where the magic happens. By deciphering your unique foot type and understanding your gait mechanics, we can find the perfect match for you—the correct shoe type that compensates for overpronation or underpronation. It’s like finding the missing puzzle piece that completes the picture, reducing the risks of injury while enhancing your running economy and efficiency.

Additional resource  – Here’s your guide to pain on top of the foot while running.

picture of Calf Pain

The 3 Main Types Of Runners Feet

1. Normal (medium) Arch

This is the most common type of runners, and people in general.

The medium foot type is often called normal because of most people—roughly 60 percent—have a medium arch.

So, that does not mean there is something inherently wrong with having high or low arches.

These are also normal, but not just as widespread.

The Process

The Neutral type is identified by a slight pronation

While running, the foot lands on the outside of the heel then rolls inward to support body weight and reduce the shock impact of the foot strike.

The Wet Test

If, after assessing your footprint, it doesn’t look high arched or flat footed, then your chances you have a normal or neutral foot.

In general, the footprint will show a plain curve inward, but not by more than ¾ of an inch.

The Wear Patterns

Neutral pronation manifests as a wear pattern focused on the ball of the foot region and a small portion of the heel.

The Trouble

A runner with neutral feet has a normal arch with centralized balance.

The impact stresses generated by running are well distributed in the center of the foot, which cuts the risks of pain and/or injury in the tendons, bones, and the muscles of the lower body.

But having neutral feet does not mean that you’ve hit The Happy Feet Jackpot.

The fact is, as a runner, you are always prone to injury due to bad form, ill-fitting shoes, overuse, or repetitive stress injuries.

Best Shoes

Runners with “normal feet” can wear just about any type of shoe, but they are still prone to injuries, especially if they are overtraining, or not taking good care of their bodies.

Additional resource – How to choose Running shoes for overpronators

2. The Flat Foot

Overpronation is the second most common type, accounting for over 20 percent of all runners.

Flat-footed runners tend to overpronate, meaning that their feet roll inward too much during a foot strike.

This can be a source of problems and often requires proper support and weight redistribution.

Here’s the full guide to underpronation

The Process

The outer side of your heel strikes the ground first at an increased angle with little or no normal pronation, resulting in a massive transmission of stress and shock through the lower limbs.

The arch is designed to absorb a specific amount of shock, but when it collapses too much following impact, the resulting stress forces travel up and down the legs, leading to pain, even injury to the shins, hips, or knees.

The Wet Test

You have flat feet when there is no is no clear inward curve from the big toe to the heel while looking at your foot.

Typically, the imprint shows a filled-in arch.

The Wear Patterns

Soles mostly worn on the inside (typically along the inside edge of the shoe) mean that you’re most likely an overpronator.


As previously stated, pronation is a good thing.

But too much of it can put a lot of undue stress and shock on your feet and knees, increasing the risks of pain and injury.

Flat footed runners are often biomechanically imbalanced, which can make them more prone to common foot issues such as arch pain, heel pain, and plantar fasciitis.

Other injuries include plantar fasciitis, shin splints, heel spurs, and bunions.

Follow proactive measures to reduce your risks of such ailments.

Additional guide – Running safely with bunions guide

Best Shoes

According to conventional wisdom, if you overpronate, then you might need shoes that help maintain your stability during a foot strike.

Look for terms like “stability” and “motion control” while selecting a new running pair.

Stability shoes can help stabilize your stride and provide better support for your feet.

This type of shoes might reduce the risks of common issues and injuries like heel pain, arch pain, plantar fasciitis, etc.

Just keep in mind that the current scientific research reveals no conclusive evidence that supports this theory.

In cases of severe overpronation, you might need to wear orthotics. These are custom made shoe inserts that may correct foot issues in some individuals.

Additional Resource – Here’s your guide to running shoes for flat feet.

3. The High-Arched Foot

The third type is the least common, accounting for less than 20 percent of the population.

In general, underpronators have high, rigid arches that do not sufficiently collapse.

Therefore, they do not absorb shock as efficiently as the other two foot types.

Supination is characterized by an outward rolling of the foot following a foot strike, which results in inadequate impact reduction and distribution.

The Wet Test

If the foot imprint shows little—or no—contact along the outside edge of the feet, mainly seeing only the heel and ball, then you have a high arch.

The Wear Patterns

Supination is marked by wear and tear on the outside of the heel area, especially along the outer edge of the shoe.


Research shows that high arched people are more prone to foot conditions such as ball-of-foot pain, heel pain, plantar fasciitis, etc.

Why might you ask?

As already stated, the supination cycle can result in insufficient shock absorption upon impact.

Having high arches means less surface for absorbing impact.

This can place undue pressure on the rearfoot and forefoot areas.

Next, the impact forces can travel unhindered through the legs, knees, and hips to the back and the rest of the body, resulting in pain, musculoskeletal injuries, and even stress fracture in weight-bearing bones.

Additional Resource – Overpronation vs Underpronation

The Best Shoes

Experts recommend well-cushioned, flexible shoes with good arch support and a soft midsole to take some of the stress off the lower limbs and ward off injury, especially to the feet.

In some serious cases, you can use the right orthotics.

Thee can help can help fill in your arch cavity to help improve shock absorption, and provide alignment and cushioning needed to ward off pain and injury.

Additional guide – How to prevent Foot pain in runners

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