How to determine your foot type (and why it matters)

May 05, 2015                 1m read time
Kathy Murdock


One excellent benefit of running is that it doesn't require much equipment. What you do need is a pair of running shoes designed for your foot type or stride (neutral, overpronator, supinator). Much of your running stride is dependent on your arch. To determine if you have a high, low, or medium arch, take this little at-home test. (It’s like a science experiment for your feet!) 

Discover your arches

You will need:

  1. A shallow pan filled with about one to two inches of water
  2. A paper bag (or light colored construction paper)
  3. Your feet

To assess your arch:

  1. Step into the pan of water to wet your foot.
  2. Step out of the water and onto the paper.

Next, read the results.

  • If you see most of your foot on the paper, you have a low arch, or a flat foot.
  • If your arch is just a blip on the paper, it is likely high.
  • If about half of your arch is visible, along with your heel and forefoot, you probably have a medium arch.   

We’ll tell you why this might matter after we talk about ...

runners hitting their stride in a race ZOZI

runners hitting their stride in a race

ZOZI

 

Your stride

When you run, there is a period of time when both feet are in the air and your body is making no contact with the earth. (You can fly! You can fly!) When the foot returns to the ground, three things happen.   

  1. The foot makes initial contact with the ground.
  2. Most of the foot is on the ground.
  3. The foot pushes the body back into the air.

During foot to pavement contact, the feet may:

  1. Hit the pavement and pronate very little, known as underpronation
  2. Hit and roll a lot to the interior side of the foot, known as overpronation
  3. Hit and pronate some, known as neutral pronation

Pronation in and of itself is not problematic. It’s too much or too little pronation that can cause problems.

Remember that wet test you conducted for your arch type? Those with flat feet and low arches tend to overpronate while those with high arches tend to underpronate (supinate). If your arch falls in the medium range, you likely have neutral or normal pronation.   

To discover which running shoes are right for your personal pronation type, read our article "10 rules for finding your ideal running shoes."

 
Runner with sore feet ZOZI

Runner with sore feet

ZOZI

 
Kathy Murdock

Kathy works as a freelance writer and marketer from her home in sunny Florida. An avid runner, she has completed nine half marathons and two full marathons, along with a variety of other racing distances. She loves her family, long runs, hot coffee, and peanut butter.

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