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7/15/16 9:44 AM

Patients frequently ask me “What type of sneaker should I be wearing? Is there a certain brand that is better than others?” You have probably heard of the “Wet Test” as well- where you look at your wet footprint to categorize your arch as low, normal, or high and then try to fit a shoe to your arch type. Many runners have been categorized as an “over-pronator” and dreaded “heel-striker”. Recent evidence has shown that attempts to “fit” your arch to a certain type of shoe is actually no more beneficial than those who pick their sneaker based on comfort. However, there are so many shoe terms out there, it can become overwhelming when trying to determine which shoe to buy and differences between two pairs of sneakers. Where to start? Here is a guideline for basic shoe terminology that you may come across when purchasing your next pair of sneakers.

Pronation/motion control/stability: This type of shoe is designed to control the amount of pronation (or inward rolling motion of the foot) while running as you transition through toe off. It is designed to provide structure and increased support through the arch of your foot. It may be indicated for those with little to no arch and “over-pronators” or if you wear out the tread at the outer heel and ball of the foot.

Shock Absorption/cushion: This type of shoe likely provides greater cushioning through the heel counter and will help to absorb and distribute force from impact while running. It may be indicated for those with higher arches, supinators, or those who wear the tread along the outer corner of the heel and along the entire outer edge.

Zero Drop: Drop refers to the difference in height from the heel to the toe box of the shoe. Zero drop means that the heel and forefoot are the same distance from the ground. This type of shoe will provide less cushioning through the heel and is designed to encourage a lower-impact landing with a bent knee and mid-foot strike. Just be aware that switching to this type of shoe will require more work from your Achilles and calf muscles.

Minimalist: These shoes are designed to allow for the most natural movement of the foot during gait. Typically weighing in at less than 4.5oz, this category of shoe can include brand names such as Nike Frees and Vibram FiveFingers. Other attributes to look for in a minimalist shoe are high degree of longitudinal and torsional flexibility through the sole, less than 1 mm of heel to toe drop, and less than 8mm of stack height, or thickness of the sole at the center of the heel.



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Written by Julie Berube, PT.

Julie is an Orthopedic Certified Specialist currently practicing as a Physical Therapist in our DeWitt location.

Topics: tips, shoe fitting, running, feet