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​Fit is key in choosing proper athletic shoes

​​​​​​​​​​Proper footwear is important for any sport. Matching your foot type to a specific type of sport shoe optimizes fit and function.

Consider these common foot types: pronation and supination.

Pronation

Pronation is the extent or degree the foot rotates inward, placing the body’s weight on the inner edge of the sole. With more pronation, more stress is placed on the inside of the foot. This foot type tends to be overly flexible, unstable and flatter, and needs motion control. Athletic shoes providing medial, or inner side support, from a multi density​​ firm midsole and medial heel stabilizer, are a good choice. A medial forefoot wedge may be needed to provide additional control for the front of the foot. The shoe should be designed with board-last construction, meaning the stitching of the shoe’s upper to its sole is along the outer boundaries of the sole rather than down the sole’s middle. To decrease pronation of the foot, the heel should flare more on the inner than outer side of the shoe.

Supination

Supination places more stress on the outside of the foot, making the foot more rigid, less able to absorb shocks and relatively inflexible. A higher arch is the tendency. Cushioning and flexibility should be the focus when purchasing shoes for the more rigid, supinated foot. Midsoles should be soft with a lateral or outer side, heel stabilizer. The shoe should be curved to provide more flexibility. A sock liner or insole with a neoprene or visco-elastic insole can supply additional cushioning.

If using orthotics in athletic shoes, remove the insole.

When trying on athletic shoes:

  • Aim for fitting later in the day, after your feet have swelled.
  • Stand while your foot size is measured.
  • Fit with the socks you will run in.
  • Try on both shoes. Your right and left feet may be different sizes. 
  • Allow about one-fourth inch of space between the end of the longest toe and the front of the shoe. This accommodates swelling during running.
  • Check heel fit. It should be snug and not slide or rub against the heel counter that wraps the base of the heel.
  • Be sure all seams are smooth and no areas are glued improperly.

Proper fit should be the highest priority over price, brand and appearance, to maximize performance and minimize potential injuries.

Share comments or questions on this information. E-mail sports.medicine@marshfieldclinic.org​.