Ever look at the sole of your shoes? Where are they worn? What hurts… shins, knees, hips, feet, toes, back? Your stride, fitness level, running surface, age and weight can all impact your pain, or lack-there-of, but it all begins with the shoe. As a diagnosed flat foot, like flat as a board, bunions, and weak ankles, I’m a mess. I am fortunate enough to have had amazing health insurance as a child and been able to get sole inserts made, which provide me with the perfect arch for my foot.
After months of running in a New Balance cross trainer, I realized my shoes were heavy, thick, rigid and all-around just not made for training on the street (but perfect when I push myself running stairs or jumping over roots in the woods). I went shoe shopping. All the rage: a lightweight shoe. The Adidas Adizero. Perfect weight- it felt like I was running barefoot compared to the NB pair I had before. I ran all over Dick’s Sporting Goods. I was free. I looked like a puppy who got out of the gate. So I ran. I trained about 70 miles in 2 weeks, with some slight knee pain; but raising my mileage is bound to be uncomfortable. Right? Nope. These shoes, 450 miles later, are used for rain running (so I don’t mess up my other shoes… I’ll never learn).
The Adizero sole:
What does all this mean to you? Examine your shoes and the wear and tear, and evaluate your foot pronation!
If you have a normal arch and no foot issues, you are, most likely, a normal pronator. This means the outside of your heel meets the ground first, rolls in about 15%, coming in complete contact with the ground, and is supporting your body weight without any complications. At the end of your gait, you push off evenly with the toes. Normal pronators should wear a stability shoe, which will offer moderate pronation control (I find a stability shoe works best for me with my arch supports and I LOVE my new Asics GT-2150!). It is perfectly normal for the outside of your heel to strike first, so more wear on the outer heel of your shoe is to be expected- look at the mid-sole of your shoe and the toes to make a diagnosis. Because I wear orthotics made to give me the perfect arch, I have no issues with my foot placement due to my feet (perhaps my knees and hips are not of service), but I feel less knee and hip pain with a stability shoe.
The inward rolling of the foot is pronation, and determines which shoe is best for you. Without the proper roll in of the foot, you’re not optimally using your power and strength and can be damaging your knees, hips, shins and ankles. With the proper pronation or a shoe to assist with your footfalls, the body of your foot should be taking most of your weight and spreading evenly over the toes.
If you’re abnormal… flat footed or high arched (weirdos!), you’ve got some shoe shopping to do!
If you have a normal arch, you’re likely a normal pronator, meaning you’ll do best in a stability shoe that offers moderate pronation control. Runners with flat feet normally overpronate, so they do well in a motion-control shoe that controls pronation. High-arched runners typically underpronate, so they do best in a neutral-cushioned shoe that encourages a more natural foot motion. (Image from 2004 Runner’s World, by Bob Gavin)