Today on the Doc On The Run Podcast we’re talking about why flat feet need motion control running shoes.
If the running shoes are perfect for you, they will help provide support and cushioning to protect you from the pounding forces of running.
In theory, running shoes should protect you from overloading structures in a way that could lead to an over training injury.
If you are a runner with flat feet, you need “motion control” running shoes.
Motion control running shoes, pronation control running shoes, and stability running shoes are all basically the same thing. These are all shoes designed to stabilize unstable feet.
Every runner needs the very best running shoes. Every runner pronates. But it is when and how much you pronate that actually matters.
In general, people with flat feet pronate more than people who do not have flat feet. But not all runners need pronation control running shoes.
When you go to the running shoe store and you’re looking for new running shoes, there are basically three varieties. When you look at standard running shoes, you have something called motion control shoes, which, of course, are supposed to control motion and those are typically recommended for people with flat feet. At the other end of the spectrum, you have what we call neutral shoes or cushioning type running shoes, and then in between is a collection of shoes which are referred to as structured cushion and with a little bit of structure and a little bit of cushioning.
But today we’re going to talk about, motion control shoes and why running shoe stores and the people who sell running shoes often recommend those. Now basically, when you have flat feet, your feet are relatively flexible and more prone to pronation. Pronation is where your arches come down toward the ground and your heel bones, as a consequence of that motion, tilt inward leaning inward as your arch collapses down when your pronation foot becomes more flexible. Now you need flexibility, you need pronation, you need pronation to absorb forces. As your foot actually collapses and flattens out, it basically absorbs the force of landing when you’re walking, running, or stepping on uneven surfaces.
You need both. You need pronation and supination.
Supination is where your foot gets stiffer and becomes a rigid lever so you can push off. You need to have that when you are getting ready to push off of course and accelerate as you run, but as you land, you need pronation to absorb some force. Well, in theory, when you have flat feet and you have a lot of instability in your feet, you’re more prone to having your feet over-pronate. So there are some running shoes which are consequently referred to as shoes for over-pronators, meaning that you have relatively flat feet. So those shoes basically have lots of material in the arch area, around the heel, both designed to basically serve as a buttress to prevent your arches from rolling inward and collapsing, but also to keep the heel bone from tilting over.
Now, in general, most control shoes because they have more material added to impart stability into the shoes, will feel a little bit heavier than most other types of lightweight running shoes that don’t have as much structural integrity. It’s not complicated, the more stuff reinforcing the shoe, the heavier it has to be. But dial that stiffness, all that extra material does make it more stable. So, if you’re prone to getting problems like posterior tibial tendinitis or maybe even plantar fasciitis, it may be true that you need motion control shoes, but not everybody who has flat feet really needs motion control shoes. If you get problems that are classic for people who have flat feet like posterior tibial tendinitis, you get plantar fasciitis repeatedly, you feel like you’re getting problems because your arch is unstable, maybe you do need pronation control shoes.
But it’s best to talk to somebody who’s a running expert, whether that’s your podiatrist, whether it is your coach, whether is one of your buddies who really understands a lot about running biomechanics or, of course, if it’s really an expert at a running shoe store. I think it’s most helpful to go to specialty running shoe stores and actually talk to the experts at those running shoe stores when you’re buying new shoes, particularly if you have flat feet, and particularly if someone has told you that you need motion control shoes when you run.
So, not everybody needs motion control shoes but if you think that you might need them, you can always try them. Of course, if you have motion control shoes and you start getting other problems like shin splints or stress fractures, then that might be too much stability for you. In that case, of course, you might want to shift away from motion control shoes to something that’s just neutral cushioning or a more normal type of running shoe. But you have to have the shoe that is best for you. What is best for everybody with flat feet is never the same shoe. So you might have to experiment a little bit, but make sure that you get the right shoe for you.
If you have a question that you would like answered as a future addition of the Doc On The Run Podcast, send it to me PodcastQuestion@docontherun.com. And then make sure you join me for the next edition of the Doc On The Run Podcast!