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Running Shoes Shoes

With so many different running shoes on the market, it can be challenging to determine which type of shoe you need. Runner's feet come in three styles:

  • Pronator (with the heel on the ground the medial arch is close to the ground)
  • Supinator (with the heel on the ground the medial arch is lifted away from the ground)
  • Neutral

What is Pronation?

Pronation refers to the inward roll of the foot during normal motion and occurs as the outer edge of the heel strikes the ground and the foot rolls inward and flattens out. A moderate amount of pronation is required for the foot to function correctly, however, damage and injury can occur during excessive pronation. When excessive pronation does occur, the foot arch flattens out and stretches the muscles, tendons and ligaments underneath the foot. The picture right shows a view of the right foot as if looking at it from behind. As you can see in the picture, the ankle is overpronating or rolling inwardly.


What is Supination?

Supination is the opposite of pronation and refers to the outward roll of the foot during normal motion. A natural amount of supination occurs during the push-off phase of the running gait as the heel lifts off the ground, and the forefoot and toes are used to propel the body forward. However, excessive supination (outward rolling) places a significant strain on the muscles and tendons that stabilize the ankle and can lead to the ankle rolling completely over, resulting in an ankle sprain or total ligament rupture. This time, in the second picture right, the foot is over supinating or rolling outwardly.


How do you determine your style?

If you have an old pair of running shoes, place them on a flat surface. If they lean outwards from each other, then you are a supinator, if they lean inwards a pronator, otherwise, you are neutral. Alternatively, walk on a tiled floor with wet feet. If the width of the wet strip connecting the heel to the toes is more than half the foot width, then you are a pronator, less than half the width, a supinator; otherwise, you are neutral.

Type of shoes

The shoe types available are:

  • Motion control
  • Cushion/motion control
  • Support
  • Cushion
  • Lightweight/supportive
  • Lightweight
  • Racer/supportive
  • Racer
  • Trail

The Running Shoes Guru provides information on the best running shoes in various categories according to their testing experience and the feedback of thousands of visitors. In choosing your running shoes, you also need to take into consideration your weight and the running you will be doing:

  • Steady road running
  • Fast road running
  • Road racing
  • Road and trail running

Shoe Type Advisor

Select your foot style, weight, running and then select the 'Shoe Type' button.

Foot style Weight


If your foot type is supinator or pronator and you have a coach, ask them to look at the way you run. Some athletes may need inserts in their shoes to correct over-pronation and may need a gait assessment by a podiatrist (foot specialist).

Rules for Track Shoes

IAAF Competition Rules 142 states:

  • The sole and heel of the shoes shall be so constructed as to provide for the use of up to 11 spikes. Any number of spikes up to 11 may be used, but the number of spike positions shall not exceed 11.
  • When a competition is conducted on a synthetic surface, that part of each spike that projects from the sole or the heel shall not exceed 9mm except in the high jump and javelin throw events where it shall not exceed 12mm. These spikes shall have a maximum diameter of 4mm.
  • For the non-synthetic surfaces, the maximum length of spike shall be 25mm and the maximum diameter 4mm.
  • The sole and/or heel may have grooves, ridges, indentations or protuberances, provided these features are constructed of the same or similar material to the basic sole itself. In the high jump and long jump, the sole shall have a maximum thickness of 13mm and the heel in high jump shall have a maximum thickness of 19mm. In all other events, the sole and/or heel may be of any thickness.

Shoe Care

To reduce damage to your running shoes:

  • Only wear them for running and do not use for playing other sports
  • Undo the laces before removing the shoes
  • Avoid running in wet shoes
  • Do not wash them in the washing machine
  • Do not expose to excessive heat - let them dry naturally

Shoe Life

  • The midsole material in most running shoes may lose 30-50% of their shock absorption after approx. 250 miles of use - consider replacing your shoes after 500 miles of use

Related References

The following references provide additional information on this topic:

  • CHAMBON, N. et al. (2014) Ageing of running shoes and its effect on mechanical and biomechanical variables: implications for runners. Journal of sports sciences, 32 (11), p. 1013-1022
  • MALISOUX, L. et al. (2013) Can parallel use of different running shoes decrease running‐related injury risk? Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports
  • RIXE, J. et al. (2012) The barefoot debate: can minimalist shoes reduce running-related injuries? Current sports medicine reports, 11 (3), p. 160-165

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2000) Running Shoes [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

Related Pages

The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic: