Foot injuries have long been one of the military's most common complaints. This prompted them to analyse the shapes of new recruits’ feet and issue them running shoes that best fit their foot type. They have started using a high-tech device that allows them to better see the outline of a recruit’s foot. This has allowed them to see that some have low arches, some have high arches and some have normal arches. Based on these findings they offered shoes that best fit those types of feet.
If you have ever done any type of running, you probably know that it is important to wear a running shoe that best fits your type of foot. This has been stressed by coaches and shoe salesmen for many years. If you happen to have a high arch, a shoe that is well cushioned and soft may be the best foot fit for you. If you happen to have flat feet or low arches, you will want to use a sturdy shoe with supporting features that will offset this type of foot. Runners who have normal arches are usually given shoes that are neutral or that provide stability to the foot.
As the military began to invest in this approach of assigning shoes by foot shape, they commissioned a study to determine whether or not fitting shoes to individuals according to the shape of their feet was actually beneficial. The American Journal of Sports Medicine published a study that determined that there was no direct correlation between injuries and wearing running shoes based on food shape. Even more startling was that all runners have a high incidence of injuries, and that soldiers who were wearing shoes that were supposed to be designed specifically for that type of foot actually had a higher incidence of injuries.
In fact, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published a recommendation that specialists in the sports medicine field should not be recommending shoes to anyone just based on the shape of their foot. They stated that there is no scientific evidence to support this practice and no proven correlation on the type of shoe worn and the performance and health of distance runners. What does matter is pronation. Pronation, when it is balanced, serves as a shock absorber system for the body. When your foot strikes the ground your arch flattens and becomes longer, and this enables your foot to roll inward. When pronation is healthy and balanced there are fewer injuries from running.
There are three types of pronation in most people today. About 25% of all runners have what is known as neutral pronation, and the best type of shoe for them is a neutral running shoe. Those runners who have neutral pronation usually experience fewer stress-related injuries than others because the body's natural shock absorption system is working properly. Those with this type of pronation can wear just about any type of shoe, but not one designed for those who have moderate to severe over-pronation.
Over pronation occurs when the foot rolls and goes past the neutral position. A little bit of pronation is natural; however too much is known as over-pronation. Those runners with over pronation should wear a shoe that can control the roll and guide the foot back to a neutral position. Almost 60% of all runners have some degree of over-pronation and they should wear a shoe that provides more support. About 30% of all runners have severe over pronation and should wear a motion control shoe.
There are also runners who may have under pronation or supination. A supinating foot has a rigid arch that doesn't elongate properly when hitting the running surface. As a result the foot does not roll and absorb the shock as it should. This causes undue stress that can be transferred to the bones, tendons and joints. Supination is your body's shock absorber system working poorly, and could lead to several different types of injuries. Fortunately only 3% of most runners have this condition, and those who do should use a neutral running shoe that provides cushioning and flexibility.
However, there are still no studies that can directly correlate over or under pronation to running injuries. A lot is still unknown about supination and research studies are continuing. As for most exercisers, the best thing to do is listen to the feedback that we get from our bodies when trying on or using new running shoes. It is most definitely worth the extra time and effort to find a shoe that feels great right from the first time you wear it.