Runners like you and I know exactly how the following scenario plays-out...
First you walk up to the wall of shoes in the running store and survey the options. Soon a plucky young sales assistant bounces toward you and offers an assessment of your running gait, which will lead to the prescription of new shoes that will be just right for you.
I like to think I have a pretty healthy insight this topic; I’ve been that sales assistant. I’m also regularly that customer. In addition, I’m lucky enough to treat and coach runners of all levels of ability and experience. On top of my own experiences, I get to hear many first-hand success and failure stories of the hit-and-miss process of in-store running shoe prescription.
We’re all different, and when it comes to where we each fit in the widely accepted ‘stability paradigm‘ of running shoe selection, our feet have differing needs. Many of us will be most comfortable in a neutral shoe like a Nike Pegasus, while others will have great results in a stability shoe like an Asics Kayano, with many different options in between. Not to mention minimalism, maximalism, barefoot etc...
That said, I’m always surprised at quite how many runners walk away from the running shop having been told that they suffer from Overpronation. In many cases carrying shoes with perhaps more stability than they truthfully require. I’m no minimalism zealot, but I do believe that many runners end up over-supported, to a degree.
What’s the problem with Overpronation?
It’s more the application of the word, than the word itself.
As London based Sports Podiatrist Ian Griffiths explains in his article questioning the validity of Overpronation as a diagnosis, the relationship between foot pronation and injury is very poorly understood from a research perspective. In addition, even defining what constitutes normal levels of pronation is a contentious issue.
Therefore, as we can’t quantify what normal pronation looks like, it’s impossible to determine at what point a runner’s foot rolls further inwards, and enters the mythical realm of Overpronation.
Griffiths has even produced the following infographic on this topic:
What’s your experience been of running shoe selection?
Let me know in the comments.