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Illustration of shoe soles
Credit: Brown Bird Design

“Runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis, and early-onset arthritis are just a few problems that arise from exercising in the wrong sneakers,” says Louis Pack, a podiatrist in Greensboro, Georgia, and the author of The Arthritis Revolution ($24, lulu.com). In contrast, shoes designed to compensate for the impact of your feet can prevent injuries and improve structural alignment and performance. To determine your foot type: Have a podiatrist examine you, or get an idea yourself by looking at the soles of a pair of worn-in flats. “The wear patterns show where you’re putting pressure when you walk,” says Pack. Compare the red areas on the shoes at right to see which matches your own.

1. Top Outer Edge Worn

You’re a supinator (or underpronator). Supinators’ feet tend to have high arches and roll outward.
You need: Cushioning (also referred to, confusingly, as neutral ) sneakers for shock absorption.

2. Evenly Worn

You’re neutral and have an average gait with equal weight distribution across the foot.
You need: Stability or moderate-stability sneakers, which offer a balance of cushioning and support.

3. Top Inner Edge Worn

You’re a pronator, which means your feet roll inward. Flat arches or low arches are common.
You need: Motion-control or high-stability sneakers to keep your feet better aligned with your legs.