Arch Height Should Guide Choice of Shoes for Running or Exercise Walking

Check the height of your arches when you shop for new running or walking shoes. If you have high arches, you usually need shoes with good shock absorption. If you have low arches, you will probably benefit from shoes with good motion control (Gait & Posture, July 2007).

When you run, you land on the outside bottom of your foot and roll inward. This is called pronation, which helps to protect you from injury. If you landed on your foot and did not roll, the force of the impact would be transmitted up your leg to increase your chance of breaking bones and tearing muscles. However, as you roll in from the outside bottom to the inside bottom of your foot, you will see that your lower leg twists inward. Excessive pronation twists your lower leg, which can cause stress fractures of the lower leg bones. It can cause knee pain because it forces your kneecap to rub against the bone of your upper leg. Excessive pronation can even twist your hip joint to cause pain in the hips and lower back.

People with low arches are most likely to roll in too much. Their arches may be normal but appear to be low because the ankles allow the arch to go down so far that it touches the ground. These are the people who need shoes with "motion control" to limit how far their legs twist inward. Motion control features include extra padding in the area where the arch fits in the shoe; a stiffer collar that extends from the laces to the sole to limit rolling in; and a firm stiff piece in the back of the shoe, called a counter, that grips the back of the heel to limit motion.

People with high arches hit the ground with great impact. They need running shoes that limit the force of the foot when it hits the ground. Runners with high arches should seek shoes that have soles and heels with special properties to absorb road shock. More


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