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Ask Our Experts - Selecting the Right Running Shoe

From Mark Seeley and Penny Grassel, Crossing Rivers Health Athletic Trainers

Question: What kind of shoes are the best for people with flat feet who want to run?

Running shoes should be selected after careful consideration. With so many brands and styles of shoes on the market today, it is important to find the best fit for your feet and your needs.

There is no “right shoe” that fits all runners. However, research and injury patterns have shown that there are some general characteristics of a good, safe running shoe.

Foot shape or arch height are not good indicators of what kind of running shoe to buy. So having a flat foot may not be the determining factor that leads you to the proper shoe.

Having a flat foot is called pronation. Be aware that all runners pronate, or drop the foot inward. Pronation is a normal foot motion during walking and running. Pronation alone should not be a reason to select a running shoe.

Runners may be told while shopping that because pronation is occurring, a shoe with arch support is best. In fact, the opposite may be true. Pronation should occur and is a natural shock absorber. Stopping pronation with materials in the shoes may actually cause foot or knee problems to develop. Excessive pronation can occur, but in most cases can be corrected with therapy and exercises to strengthen the foot, leg and hip rather than by a shoe.

When starting a running program, it is important to actually learn how to run. When you were a child, you had to learn how to properly throw a ball before you could play baseball. The same holds true for running.

In order to be an efficient injury free runner, you must learn the proper mechanics of running. A complete running program must also include strengthening and flexibility exercises. Trying to correct mechanics of the foot, knee, hips, trunk and upper extremities with a shoe is like trying to steer a barge with an Evinrude outboard motor.

A motion control or stability shoe may help as a temporary transition into the proper shoe until your body has developed the strength and flexibility to run properly. However, the shoe should not be the foundation of proper running. The foundation needs to come from adequate strength in the core and hips, built through the thigh muscles and into the lower extremities and feet.

Below is a guide developed by the American College of Sports Medicine that will help you when choosing proper footwear.

ACSM Guide to Choosing Proper Footwear

Together, Penny Grassel and Mark Seeley, Athletic Trainers, bring more than 40 years of professional experience and expertise to Crossing Rivers Health and the surrounding communities. They have experience working with patients and athletes in hospitals, sports medicine clinics, colleges, universities and high schools. Learn more about Athletic Training at Crossing Rivers Health.