Running is a natural choice of sport for many men and women because it requires few skills and very little gear. Many people assume that all you need is a comfortable pair of shorts and T-shirt, some good socks and a pair of running shoes to get started.
This is true, as far as it goes; however, it is important to understand that good technique and form, along with a truly well-fitted pair of running shoes can make all the difference in the world to the quality of your running experience.
Paying close attention to your posture and technique and wearing shoes that are truly suitable for your feet and your gait can help you avoid a wide variety of aches, pains and injuries.
In this article, we will focus on the problems of runners with very high arches. We will explain the gait problem associated with underpronation or supination and provide sound advice on selecting just the right shoes and orthotics to address this condition. Read on to learn more.
What Is Underpronation?
Pronation is the normal rolling movement of your foot when running. Your foot should strike the ground with the heel and roll smoothly forward to push off evenly using your entire forefoot. This action distributes weight and absorbs shock to help prevent pain and injury to your feet, ankles, knees, hips and lower back. This is a normal gait that is usually displayed by people with average height arches.
Supination or underpronation are terms used to describe the gait of people with very high arches who tend to carry all their weight on the outer edge of the foot and push off with the smaller toes. This happens because excessively high arches force the foot to roll outward.
This gait distributes weight unevenly and can lead to a wide variety of injuries and problems such as:
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome (knees)
- Achilles Tendonitis
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Sprained Ankles
- Shin Splints
Luckily, this problem can be avoided with consistent stretching and warm-up before running. It is also important to wear the right running shoes and replace them frequently. Running in badly worn shoes can cause injury. Unfortunately, shoes specifically designed for underpronators can be difficult to find.
Here is a collection of neutral shoes that we have gathered especially for their extra cushioning. Super-cushioned, neutral shoes are typically very comfortable and provide a lot of shock absorption and guidance for correct pronation for people with high arches who tend to underpronate.
ASICS Gel Nimbus 18
Hoka One One Clifton 3
Altra Torin 3
Saucony Triumph ISO 3
Skechers GoTrail Ultra 4
Under Armor Fat Tire 2
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v7
Mizuno Wave Rider 20
Brooks Ghost 10
How Do You Know You Underpronate?
If you have very high arches, you are probably aware of it. If you are unsure, have a look at your current running or walking shoes. If they are badly worn on the heels and along the outer edges with little wear along the arch and under the big toe area, you probably have a problem with supination.
To verify your home evaluation, visit your doctor, podiatrist or sports medicine specialist. Ask for a gait analysis to determine precisely what may be wrong with your gait. A professional analysis may consist of close study of video taken of your gait while walking on a treadmill; study of three-dimensional images of your feet and ankles taken using x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging equipment and/or force plate assessment analysis which determines the force with which the surfaces of the soles your feet strike the ground as you move.
The results of these tests can be tremendously helpful in selecting just the right shoes and orthotics to address problems caused by supination.
How To Choose Running Shoes To Suit Your Needs
There are general guidelines for shoe choices to meet the needs of various types of runners. For example, generally speaking flat-footed runners whose feet tend to roll inward (overpronate) are typically told to choose shoes that provide firm structure and motion control. Normal pronators are typically told to select lightweight, neutral shoes. Supinators are often told to select shoes with high, firm arch support.
This is all good as far as it goes; however, it is important to understand that there are many important variables to consider for any individual when choosing the perfect running shoes. Weight, age, previous injuries, gender and many other factors must be considered.
This is why, in addition to considering recommendations for specific brands and styles of shoes, it is also important to understand how good running shoes are constructed. This can help you interpret and assess what you see when you are evaluating a pair of shoes. Here are some guidelines you can follow.
Parts of a Running Shoe
- The outsole, as the name implies, is the outer sole or underside of the shoe. Blown rubber or carbon rubber are typically used to form this component.
- The midsole is on top of the outsole. It makes up the inner part of the sole of the shoe sole and is typically made of foam products such as ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyurethane.
- The upper is the leather or fabric portion that makes up the topside of the shoe. This portion may be glued or sewn onto the midsole.
- Cushioning devices are often placed within the midsole for added support and comfort. These may be made of gel, encapsulated air or varying densities of midsole foam.
- Stability devices are also placed within the midsole. For example, a medial post is an insertion (usually made of very dense EVA) that adds firmness to the midsole of motion control and stability shoes. Midsole posts may also be made using carbon fiber, thermoplastic urethane or a variety of other materials.
- A firm midsole post is good for controlling overpronation, but is typically not helpful for supination or for neutral pronation. The midsole post can make shoes significantly heavier, so if your problem is supination, you will be happier and more comfortable without the midsole post.
- The shank can also make shoes heavier. The function of the shank is to make the arch of the shoe firmer so that it resists flexion and torsion. It assures that the sole of the shoe only bends at the toes. Sometimes the shank is designed in such a way as to function as a midsole post. Unless you choose a very light and flexible type of running shoe, you can count on the inclusion of a shank.
- The term “last” refers to both the shape of the shoe and the way the midsole and upper are attached. In regards to shape, the last may be straight, semi-curved or curved.
- Shoes that are straight lasted (fairly straight from big toe to heel) are a bit heavier and provide more and firmer arch support. This type of last is typically used for motion control shoes and shoes such as competition spikes and racing flats.
- Curved last shoes are lighter weight and more flexible. They do not provide as much support as straight lasted shoes. This is typically the best choice for supinators.
- Semi-curved lasts are a combination of these two types. They are a bit lighter than straight lasted shoes and provide a bit more support than curve lasted shoes. Most men’s and women’s running shoes are designed with a semi-curved last.
- As regards construction, the term “last” is used to refer to the way the upper and the midsole are connected. This is known as “last construction”, and it greatly influences the amount of flexibility a pair of shoes may have. There are four different methods of last construction.
- Shoes that are board-lasted have a rigid cardboard or plastic platform in the sole of the shoe. These provide a great deal of stability, yet they are not often found in running shoes.
- Shoes that are slip-lasted have no board. In this method of attachment, fabric from the upper is simply extended into the sole of the shoe and covered with the insole. This creates a very flexible shoe that encourages pronation and is a good choice for underpronators.
- As the name implies, combination-lasted shoes use both board lasting and slip lasting. The forefoot of the shoe is slip lasted, and the rear foot is board lasted. This provides more motion control in the heel along with flexibility in the forefoot.
- Modern running shoes are typically Strobel lasted. This is accomplished by attaching a sheet of flexible material (e.g. EVA) to the midsole. Next, the upper of the shoe is sewn onto this material. Strobel lasted shoes have a row of stitching all the way around the foot-bed. This method of last construction produces a lightweight, durable, moderately flexible shoe which can be a smart choice for runners who tend to overpronate.
Why Is It Important To Know How Shoes Are Put Together?
Knowing the components of a well-built shoe and how those components work together can help you select just the right running shoes to suit your preferences and your needs. The combination of outsole construction, midsole cushioning, last and fit and inclusion or lack of stability devices determines the look, weight, feel and stability of the shoe.
A more stable shoe typically has a straight last and larger, denser medial posts to control pronation. These shoes are typically stiffer and control pronation effectively. They also may tend to feel a bit clunky and constrictive. If you do not have a problem with overpronation, you can happily steer clear of this type of shoe.
Instead, you can look for moderate or even neutral shoes that are lighter and more flexible and comfortable. Moderate stability shoes typically have semi-curved lasts and combine cushioning and comfort with motion control. Most running shoes are combination shoes; however, as an underpronator you may prefer very light, super cushioned, neutral shoes with flexible curved lasts.
Can The Right Insoles Help High Arches?
Very high arches can cause a lot of pain and injury for runners, and sometimes no matter how hard you try, it is just not possible to find exactly the right running shoe as-is. When this happens, good high arch insoles can come to the rescue.
Combining a neutral running shoe with a well-chosen high arch support insole can be just the ticket for providing comfort and correct support to help you avoid the pain and injury that often results from running with high arches.
Good orthotic inserts provide firm support that helps prevent your foot from excessive outward rotation. If you have experienced running-related injuries and suspect that supination may be the cause, see your podiatrist to discuss the use of either prescribed or over-the-counter orthotics to address your problem.
|Sof Sole Arch Comfort High Arch Shoe Insole|
|Superfeet Green Heritage Insole|
|New Balance IUSA3810 Supportive Cushioning Insole|
Good high-arch orthotics provide your feet with a good foundation to distribute pressure and weight across the entire sole of your foot. They provide ample padding and relief to your heels and the balls of the feet to absorb shock. These insoles hold your feet straight to align your hips, knees and ankles. This results in reduced joint stress and relief of lower back pain.
When choosing the right insoles to suit your needs, consider both the level of support offered and the length of the insole. An insole that provides rigid arch support limits flexion and would not be appropriate to address underpronation. Instead, look for either a semi-rigid support that provides both firm support and flexion or a cushioned support that allows free flexion with ample cushioning and added shock absorption.
When deciding on length of insole, if you are replacing the entire insole of your shoes, naturally you should choose a full-length insole. If you just need more cushioning under your heels and arches, adding a three-quarter sole to the existing insole of your shoes is probably the better choice.
A Combination Of Cushioning & Comfort Makes A Great Running Shoe For Supinators
Your goals in choosing the right training shoes should be comfort first, followed by the possibility of correcting your gait to remedy supination. If you can comfortably change your gait so that your midsole comes in contact with the ground first a great deal of the foot’s tendency to roll outward can be eliminated. Extra cushioning under the entire foot and especially under the arch can help with this goal.
Most underpronators do best with lightweight running shoes with curved lasts that allow and encourage neutral pronation. You should especially be on the lookout for shoes that offer greater flexibility on the arch side of the sole.
Added padding or super cushioning provide good shock absorption when your heel hits the ground. A slightly broader, more flexible base distributes your weight more evenly. All of this combined helps to prevent the types of overuse injuries that are typically caused by supination. Refer to the information and product suggestions presented here when seeking the perfect running shoes for men and women with high arches.