Ah, feet. We all use them every day, but most of us probably don’t give them a second thought. If you’re a runner, though, you’ll know the importance of constantly checking in on your trotters.
Understanding how your foot functions is fundamental to choosing the right running shoe, and keeping a simple and apt acronym in mind before embarking on your next shopping trip for running shoes will help you to choose a shoe that fits you like a glove.
FAST: foot, arch, symmetry, technique
First things first: your foot type and shape are good points of departure when exploring different running shoe options, but these two factors are not the only determining factors in deciding what type of running shoe to buy. You probably already know whether you have flat feet or not, but you also have to understand the flexibility of your foot. If you have sensitive feet, for example, you’ll look for a different shoe than you would if your feet are more flexible. The rule of thumb here is, the more flexible your foot, the more stable your running shoes will have to be, and vice versa – but it doesn’t stop there.
Determine whether you have a low or high arch by examining a wet footprint. A single blob will mean that you have a lower arch, while a higher arch is characterised by a footprint that is more disconnected from back to front. Arch type alone, however, is not the only indicator of what type of running shoe you need to opt for. Says physical therapist Tom Labisch: “The arch height is not that accurate at predicting the foot mobility, which is the more important factor in shoe selection. For example, some people with high arches actually have extra-flexible feet.”
The symmetry of your foot will give you an idea of what kind of tread you naturally have. Do you have neutral pronation, supination or do you overpronate? Have a look at the wear on an old pair of running shoes to see how they’ve worn down, and to determine the symmetry of your foot.
To find out what type of heel-to-toe drop is right for you, you’ll have to determine how you run. Do you strike the ground with your heel first, do you land mid-foot, or are you a forefoot runner?
Choosing the right running shoe is a lot easier when you get your shoes at a store that understands the needs of runners. Discuss all the factors mentioned above with your stockist, and the next pair of shoes you buy might just open up a whole new world of running excellence.