Everything is better with science! How nice would it be to get running shoe choice down to a universal and infallible equation where, to choose a shoe, all we would need to do is plug in a few variables to diagnose how each of us runs and then solve for X. Bam. Done. For years, running shoe companies and running stores have worked to do just that using a diagnosis technique called gait analysis to determine how each runner runs and then categorizing shoes to fit each type of gait.
What kind of gait do you have? Are you an overpronator? A supinator? A neutral foot? This is what your local running store sales associates are looking for when they conduct a gait analysis on you. They might ask to see your old stinky running shoes, then stare knowingly at the treads or perhaps they’ll have you jog barefoot on the treadmill and nod and hmmmmm as they play the footage back in slow motion while pointing vaguely at your Achilles. Deciding whether you overpronate, underpronate or perfectly pronate is how they determine what kind of running shoe to prescribe you.
But what exactly is pronation? Does your gait really determine what type of shoes you need to avoid injury and perform your best? Is there a better way to find the right shoe for you?