If you want to take up running, you’re supposed to choose a running shoe based on your foot type. If you have low arches, you are an “overpronator” and a good running store will send you home with a motion-control shoe that keeps your foot from rolling toward the inside with each step. If you are a “supinator” with high arches, you’ll get a shoe with lots of cushioning instead. The average non-specialized running shoe is reserved for those with a supposedly neutral gait.
That may be a mistake, say a couple of new studies on injury rates. One found that assigning shoes by foot type didn’t reduce injuries; the other found that specialized shoes, especially the motion-control ones, increased injury rates.
This caught my eye because I’ve been told I’m an overpronator and need motion-control shoes, yet I always had more pain and problems running in them than in flexible shoes like the Nike Free. Once I figured that out, I swore off any shoe with a rigid sole, which includes most running shoes. Motion-control shoes have the stiffest soles of all. According to the nytimes article,
across the board, motion-control shoes were the most injurious for the runners. Many overpronators, who, in theory, should have benefited from motion-control shoes, complained of pain and missed training days after wearing them, as did a number of the runners with normal feet and every single underpronating runner assigned to the motion-control shoes.
Biomechanical studies show that motion-control shoes really do control the motion of your foot, but the author of the Army studies points out that we don’t know whether that motion - the over- or under-pronation - is actually a problem. Barefoot running enthusiasts say that injuries attributed to over- or under-pronation are caused by footwear itself. “Pronation is a natural thing,” says one barefoot runner. “Be happy that it occurs, cause it’s one of our body’s little advantages.”