Find the Right Shoes for Physical Activity

Understanding your foot type and gait pattern can help you have a more comfortable workout. Although you may not be experiencing pain now, over time, wearing the wrong shoe could lead to more serious problems, such as injury or stress fractures.

There are three main foot types; normal, high arch, and flat. An easy at home way to figure out what type you have is the “wet test”. To do this, dip the sole of your foot in a shallow pan of water, and place your foot on a dry piece of heavy paper. You can compare your results to the images below.

Normal Arch. If you see about half of the arch region filled in, you have the most common foot type. People with this type of foot can wear just about any type of shoe, because the foot pronates under normal loading from body weight. Since the pronation acts as a natural shock absorber, rigid and supportive shoes are not as necessary.

High Arch. If your footprint shows little to no contact along the outside edge of the foot, you probably have a high arch. With high arches, your foot tends to supinate, which means you are more likely to land on the outer edges of your feet. With this foot type, supportive cushioning is necessary when looking for sneakers. Mid sole cushioning and flexibility would be most beneficial.

Flat/Low Arch. If the arch region is completely filled in, it is likely that your foot rolls inward while running. This is the complete opposite of a high arch type foot. Although there is a natural shock absorption, the excessive roll can lead to foot and knee injuries. A stiffer sneaker, with more stability and support would work best.

It doesn’t matter if you are an avid long distance runner, or an occasional treadmill user, happy feet can make a huge difference. Finding the right shoe to wear during activity helps lessen those annoying shin splints and other issues. You are going to spend a lot of time in a pair of sneakers, so you should be sure to select the right one. Just remember, your sneakers only have a life span of about 300 to 500 miles, so make sure to replace them often!