Pronation explained: choosing the right running shoes

Many of us made resolutions at the start of this year to get fitter – whether that be through going to the gym more often or taking up jogging or some other sport – but if you want those good intentions to last you need to make sure you are properly prepared with the right footwear. Many people mistakenly believe that when they go running they should wear their most comfortable pair of trainers, but soon find themselves nursing sore feet or legs; then the excuses come out and that fitness plan is put on hold yet again.

While comfort is obviously important in a workout shoe, it needs to be combined with the right level of support, but what kind of shoe is the right one? Obviously the trainer needs to be lightweight with plenty of cushioning, but other than that there is no set answer – it depends on you, the shape of your feet and your gait.

Running experts will tell you that choosing the right shoe involves understanding your personal pronation type. You can find out more about pronation here, but the basics are that your ankle rolls inward when you take a step. In those with a normal arch and stride, pronation is about 15 per cent. However, those with flatter feet tend to over-pronate, while those with higher arches do not pronate enough. But does this really matter? The outside of the foot makes contact with the ground first, then pronation allows you to distribute weight evenly across the foot. Under or over-pronating gets this weight distribution wrong, leading to excess pressure in certain parts of the foot, and pain. Not only that, incorrect pronation can lead to bad running technique as the legs try to correct for the foot’s problems, leading to muscle and joint problems further up the leg. So yes, it really does matter.

While trainers are on sale in many outlets, it really is worth buying your running shoes from experts like those at Up & Running, or another specialist shop. They can assess your running technique and find the right shoes to correct your pronation, and therefore help you avoid those aches and pains that put off many amateur joggers.

Once you have the right trainers, you need to complement that with the right clothing. Many people think comfortable cotton is the best thing to run in, but this is not the case. Once cotton gets drenched in sweat, or you get caught in a rain storm, it will retain this moisture and feel very heavy, while the clogged fibres will also not allow your skin to breathe. Man-made fabrics are not only lightweight and breathable at all times, but can actually wick moisture away from the body to keep you feeling cool. Remember that making the running experience as pleasurable as possible – or least ‘bearable’ at the start – is important for sticking with your fitness plan.

Of course, having the correct kit for running is only an aid – the actual hard work has to be up to you!