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For runners, understanding one's stride is critical to selecting the right pair of running shoes. Here are three common types of foot motion:

Over-Pronation or Under-Pronation? Finding Your Stride

Just like fingerprints, every human's footfalls are a little bit different. Qualified running specialists can map the way we step in order to locate shoes that best suit our stride. Before seeing a specialist, take a look at three common types of foot motion and the ways in which they affect the rest of the body:

Normal pronation: Most people exhibit normal pronation when they run. The heel strikes the ground and then the rest of the foot rolls about 15 degrees inward before making contact with the ground. This stride provides a stable platform for the body and allows runners to push off for their next stride primarily with the big toe.

Under-pronation: Runners with high arches often under-pronate, which means they don't roll their feet inward enough. Instead, they put their weight on the outer edge of their feet and push off with their outer toes. Under-pronators serve their needs best with shoes that provide extra cushioning to offset the added pressure they put on their lower legs.

Over-pronation: Conversely, over-pronators often have low arches and roll their feet too far inward. This stride puts pressure on the big toe, which does most of the work to push the foot back off the ground, and the feet and ankles, which have a tougher time stabilizing the rest of the body. Motion-control shoes help take on some of this stabilizing duty.

To get a basic idea of your stride, take a look at the bottom of an old running shoe or jogging slipper. Normal pronators exhibit regular wear across the bottom of their shoes. Under-pronators' shoes tend to wear out quickly across the outside edges, while over-pronators' shoes wear out along the heel and inside edge.

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