by Cregg Weinmann, Running Shoe Reviewer for Fortius Media Group, LLC
Finding the best shoe for you has traditionally begun by assessing the characteristics of your feet and gait, and then matching them with the features and properties of a particular shoe. If you had a neutral gait, then your need for specialized shoes was reduced.
However, if you rolled to the inside of your foot, called overpronation, the thinking was that you required a more heavily supported shoe.
This approach was based on the science- and construction-based solutions of 30 years ago. The notion of overpronation, and the thinking behind it, continued until recently. The (oversimplified) idea was that runners who overpronated risked injury if they didn’t run in shoes that employed a structure to correct the excessive motion.
The recent minimalist movement set in motion an exploration and rethinking of these long-held tenets. Yes, the use of geometry and lighter materials have improved running shoes and their performance. But more importantly, it has resulted in a paradigm shift toward the understanding that running shoes by themselves don’t prevent overuse injuries, because they can’t control overpronation.
This doesn’t mean the accepted stabilizing technologies are unnecessary. They actually help to resist the premature breakdown of the shoe’s structure and performance, playing a key role in the comfort of both your runs and your wallet. They just can’t stop the motion that your feet are inclined to take.
The motion of general foot types is best served, first, by certain footwear properties, components and designs, and, second, by an individual runner’s preferences for fit and feel. Of the two, fit and feel trump properties, components and designs. All feet pronate, and some—depending on their movement patterns—pronate more than others.
What we suggest is a starting point within the categories of running footwear styles, but it’s only a starting point. Runners are very fond of their go-to shoes, and a large percentage of runners have been guided toward a particular shoe at the suggestion of a running specialty store. That suggestion starts the learning process for what works for runners. With all the services your local running specialty store provides, it’s a great place to start your search.