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How to Select Best Shoes for Your Arch Type

How to Select Best Shoes for Your Arch type

How to select best shoes for your arch type can be a tricky. Running shoes are designed to accommodate various arch types to reduce injuries sustained during running.

Now,  some people are lucky and can get away with wearing any kind of shoes because they have a neutral or average arch.

However, most people really need to have the right type of shoes as a defense  against injury. You might have heard people speak about  Motion control (MC)  and cushion trainer (CT)  shoes. You might have wondered how these shoes effect the way you run. In this post I’ll  explore that very topic.

Which means I’ll be answering the following question:

Do low-arched (LA) and high-arched (HA)  runners respond differently to motion control and  cushion trainer shoes?

 

For more information on flat feet check the following link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_feet

For more information on pain associated with high arches check the video below

 

A Caution About The Wet Test

You’ll find it all over the internet. The so called “Wet test” that is suppose to help you figure out what type of feet you have. It involves dunking one foot in some water, then stepping onto cardboard, a paper bag or other porous surface to view your foot print.

If the arch of your footprint is filled in, you likely have flat feet. If the arch isn’t very visible, you have high-arched feet. If your arch is halfway filled in, then you have neutral feet.

The problem with the wet test is that instead of people using it as a guide, which would be okay, they use it as the whole answer. The wet test as far as I’m concerned is a “static  test”, and running is a dynamic event.  Whenever possible, I would also advice one to get a gait analysis at their local running shop or visit  a professional  in biomechanics. They will  watch you on a treadmill to understand the natural motion of your feet when you land or use a   digital step technology that can immediately give them an X-ray like picture  of your feet.

Choosing the appropriate shoe may be more crucial for LA and HA individuals because these individuals have been reported to have an increased incidence of injuries compared with individuals with average arch structure. Once you are certain of your arch type, you are ready to dwell into the matter  at hand.

Understanding What Injury is

Okay,  let’s talk more specifically about the root cause of injury. Generally when we use the term “injury”  we mean that the load applied to the tissue has exceeded the capacity of the tissue to withstand that load.

Stand in front of a speeding bus, and the load that the bus imparts on you will exceed the capacity of many bones and ligaments to withstand that load.  This is a not so lovely example of a traumatic injury.— Dr. Kevin Maggs Biomechanics expert

The Impact of Loading on Runners

When the foot strikes the ground during running the ground produces a force back against the foot.  Technically speaking the force can be broken into  three directional vectors, but the one that you need to concern yourself  is called  vertical loading.

I can almost see you nodding. You starting to get it. What happens if the force of striking the foot exceeds the capacity of the foot muscles to withstand it? You guessed it. You’ll probably have pain and maybe an injury.

Speed of Impact

Without getting deep into runner’s jargon, let’s just talk about one more concept—loading rate. This is just a measure of how quickly  the impact force is applied. Don’t get thrown  by the terminology. It’s really an easy concept. All it means is whether the impact happens in a rapid collision or is more spread out.

An analogy  that is often used to explain the loading rate is that of hitting a wall with a bare fist versus using a boxing glove. If you use the boxing glove the impact is going to slow down and be spread out. You might be sore, but chances  are that you won’t break any bones.

Excessive Motion

Years ago I was in a car accident. The car literally  rolled down a hill.  Even though I wore a seat belt I felt myself twisting, and ended up with bad  stomach cramps. So, excessive  motion can also cause big problems.

Let’s put it together. So far these are the things we need to understand.

  • An injury can best be described as when load is applied to tissue exceeds the capacity of the tissue to handle the load. Think of the speeding bus analogy.
  • When a foot strikes  the ground it produces a force that can be measured  as vertical loading
  • The rate of loading refers to whether there is a rapid collision or the impact is more spread out.
  • Excessive motion can cause pain

The big question than becomes which shoes if you have high arches or low arches will best help you deal with impact load, excessive motion, and thus lessen your chance of pain.

Drum Roll Please

You need motion control  shoes for low arch runners. Usually LA runners suffer from soft tissue  injuries  such as  tendintiss associated with rear foot motion. A MC shoe will lessen the risk of such injuries. It will  have cushioning technology to provide a firmer midsole for better support, but less flexibility.  On the other hand, high arch runners often suffer from bony related injuries such as stress fractures. They need CT sneakers that will reduce the  shock of a hard landing.

Conclusion

As I said in the beginning of this post, running shoes are designed to accommodate various arch types to reduce injuries sustained  during running. You now have the information to understand whether  you need MC or CT shoes to reduce your risk of injury. You now know how to select the best shoes for  your arch type. So, lace up your shoes and  have a good run.

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

 

8 thoughts on “How to Select Best Shoes for Your Arch Type

  1. Agreed, when people do the wet test it should only be used as a static test. It is important for people who have LA and HA to pick the correct shoe in order to avoid getting hurt. I have a high arch; therefore, I would need CT shoes to reduce the shock force, which makes perfect sense to me. As a recreational athlete, this article is helpful when attempting to figure out which shoes I should wear.

    1. Hi Charlie,

      I’m glad that a recreational athlete such as yourself found this post useful. I wrote it precisely with people like you in mind. Often it’s the recreational athletes who sustain injury because of training error like putting on the wrong footwear.

  2. Hi Thabo.

    Thank you for the opportunity to discuss you posted page here. I will say that it is quite interesting and informative. I love the way you have worked to make sure the information is not overwhelming.

    You know how you read something that you are interested in but know very little about and so you read laboriously through some dogma that is supposed to help but bores and so you stop reading. Your blog is not like that and I applaud you for this.

    I enjoyed the two videos as both complimented each other as the doctor was very thorough as was the younger fellow and neither were boring. Nicely done.

    I think that I am normal in terms of the way my foot absorbs, bends etc. This site perked my interest toward the importance of purchasing proper footwear.

    Best of luck moving forward….Duane.

    1. Hi Duane,

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful feedback. Yes, as someone with a normal arch type you’ll most likely have little trouble finding shoes that are right for you. That said, it’s still a good idea to make sure that the shoe offers you enough toe room and protection from the impact of a heel strike. Try on several shoes, and use the same socks that you intend to wear with the shoes. People downplay this, but it’s something important to keep in mind.

      Also, your foot is often swollen in the afternoon. So, in most cases it’s best not to purchase new shoes in the morning. Instead, buy them in the afternoon. This way you’ll know if they really fit you. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

  3. This is a very enlightening post. I definitely have low arch……very low arch but I have not been paying attention to the type of footwear that would be best for me. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even realize that there were different shoe recommendations for different arches. Well now I have learned that I should get motion control shoes to lessen the risk of injury.
    One question though. How do I choose motion control shoes? Is it written on the shoe somewhere or do I need to ask the store attendant?

    1. Hi Freddie,

      Yes, if you have a very low arch you’ll need a motion control shoe. Often most stores will display their sneakers as running, walking, or cross-training. They won’t say motion control. Most times you won’t see motion control written on the shoe. Your best bet is to ask the sales person. If they don’t know or aren’t sure then ask the manager. Feel free to contact me if you have anymore questions.

  4. When I saw the title of this post, I quickly jumped into reading because I knew I will surely learn something new and helpful from it.
    I wasn’t disappointed after all, Now I know the best shoes I need to get for my morning workout without the fear of sustaining an injury in my legs.
    Thanks so much for the post; really helpful.running

    1. Hi Amaka,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post about how to select best shoes for your arch type. Just remember the following: You need motion control shoes for low arch runners. Usually LA runners suffer from soft tissue injuries such as tendintiss associated with rear foot motion. A MC shoe will lessen the risk of such injuries. It will have cushioning technology to provide a firmer midsole for better support, but less flexibility. On the other hand, high arch runners often suffer from bony related injuries such as stress fractures. They need CT sneakers that will reduce the shock of a hard landing. Glad to be of service to you.

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