Archive for the ‘Running Form’ Category

Do you know what type of sneakers you’re wearing? If you don’t, you and running have already gotten off on the wrong foot (Yeah, I’m shaking my head at that one too).  After getting cleared to run by a medical professional, your next concern should be your feet. You don’t need to know if they have a foul odor (though you should probably take care of that if you do), you need to know about your arches and the way your ankle naturally rolls.The former tends to correlate with the latter, but that is NOT ALWAYS the case.

There are 52 bones, 66 joints, and 40 muscles in the foot, the least you could do is learn about a couple of them. The experts have been laying claims that your arches generally fall into three different categories: low, normal, and high. Conveniently enough, pronation — the rotation of your foot downward and inward (aka the degree to which your ankle rolls) as your feet strike the ground — also falls into three categories. You are either a(n): overpronator, normal pronator, or supinator (underpronator). Overpronating is your feet rolling too far inward, while supinating is your feet barely rolling inward, after contact with the ground.

In order to mass produce information for the general public the experts tell you this:

  • Low arches – “Well sir/madam/dude/lady, you’re a flat foot and therefore you are likely to overpronate”
  • Normal arches – “You lucky son of a gun, your normal arches mean you probably have normal pronation.”
  • High arches – “Mr./Mrs./Miss./bro, you have high arches and this means you may supinate excessively


I’ve paraphrased major running sources there for comedic effect because I find it interesting, and outright comical, that they don’t give you a definitive answer as to your pronation. But sure take the “wet test” to find your arch height to generalize and self diagnose your pronation. Yeah, that’s a safe thing to do with the most vital knowledge you can have as a runner.

Finding out about your arch height (foot type)
The Worst Way

The Wet Test

What is the “wet test” you ask? Well, it’s probably the easiest way to figure out a general idea of your arch height. Just wet the bottom of your feet and then make a footprint on paper or some other flat and dry surface. Don’t wet your feet too much otherwise the water will smudge, and don’t press too hard on the ground otherwise the test will be compromised.

The wet test, arch height, foot type

And now compare to the image above to figure it out. You might be saying “Well… it seems like I’m between a normal arch and a low arch” or “One arch is normal and one arch is high, now what?”

You still really don’t know your pronation.

A Couple Slightly Better Ways

The Finger Test (The Ruler Test)

Get the ruler out.  Slide the ruler under your arch until you touch the bottom of your foot. If your measurement is .50″ (1/2″) or lower then it is likely that you have low arches. If it is between .50″ and 1.25″ (1 1/4″) then you can consider yourself within the normal arch range. If it is greater than 1.25″ then you should consider yourself to have high arches.

This is only better because it provides a more mathematical (scientific) approach to learning about your arches. You still do not know your pronation.

The Sand Test

If the beach is easily accessible to you, well then I am jealous. But as far as learning about your arches, if you find yourself near a large plot of sand or dirt that is soft enough to take your impression and safe enough to run across, you should do it. Take off your sneakers and run barefoot easily for 10 meters or so. Walk back and look at your footprints. Now leave a stationary impression of each foot next to a couple of those while you were running and compare. If the running imprint is much flatter or deeper than that of your stationary imprint, you could presume that you overpronate. The opposite is true for supination.

While feeling the sand between your toes is nice, you’re still relegated to comparing your arch to the above picture. This test does give you at least an idea of your pronation though.

The Better (and quite honestly most reasonable) Method

Running Store

Go to a running store. They are almost everywhere now. Any good running store will ask you to take off your sneakers and walk away from them and back towards them for a few steps. Some might even have a treadmill, and if you’re lucky yours will have a foot analysis machine that will be able to detect the pressure points of your foot, like in those Dr. Scholl’s commercials. Generally, specialty running stores train their employees on identifying pronation — it only helps them in the long run. It’s at this point that they should tell you about your degree of pronation, and thus the shoe they would recommend.

Most stores wouldn’t be offended if you borrowed their time to find out this info. It’s in their best interest, as they’ve now demonstrated their expertise to you, you are likely to return.

The Best Way


What better way to learn about your foot than from the “foot doctor.” The visit might cost you some bucks depending on your medical coverage, but you are getting your diagnosis from a medical professional, and they’ll obviously have all the cool tools and computers to arrive at the conclusion. They also may prescribe inserts for you to wear, though I’m not a big fan.

This is the best way. What more do you need to read?

The Moral of the Story

It’s very important to get to know what will be supporting you over the next however many miles. Knowing you’re previous issues with your feet, your foot type, and your degree of pronation will help determine the type of support you need to assist you on your running journey. Don’t assume that because you have a certain foot type you have a certain pronation. Arch rigidity and past injuries are important factors, and one foot can overpronate while the other doesn’t.

To the foot doctor in you,