There are basically three foot types.
1 the normal / neutral foot,
2 the high arched foot and
3 the flat / pronated foot.

1 This so called normal / neutral foot is the ideal normally functioning foot. It is an efficient foot and it is not very prone to biomechanical or running injuries.

2 The high arched foot is  not a very common foot. Less than 5% of the population has this type of foot. This foot essentially is a stiff non shock absorbing foot. By not absorbing the shock the foot, leg, knee, hip and back gets the shock wave from running. This is not the best foot to have.

3 The flat / pronated foot is common. This type of foot collapses inwards when walking and running and in this position it is not a very efficient foot. It also can be a cause of many foot and leg injuries in running.


The choice of the correct running shoe is very important to improve your performance and to reduce the risk of injury.

My best tip is if you are running in a model of shoe and they work for you then don’t change it. If you are forced to change them because they are discontinued, find another model as close to them as possible in terms of support and cushioning.

The rules of shoe choice are simple.

If you have neutral (normal) functioning feet you need to wear neutral running shoes. Every shoe company has neutral shoes in their range.

If your feet are mildly overpronating / flat you need to wear mild antipronation or stability running shoes.

If your feet pronate excessively / very flat you need strong antipronation or motion control running shoes.

If your feet are high arched / supinate (turn out) too much then wear neutral to soft running shoes.

What is the difference between a male and female foot?

Anatomically there is no difference between a man and a womans foot. They both have the same anatomical bones and structures.

The difference is in the shape of the foot and the function of the foot.

A womans foot is generally narrower at the heel and wider in the forefoot.

A womans foot generally pronates / rolls inwards more than a mans because of wider hips.

A womans foot may have more flexibility.

Most shoe companies do make woman specific shoes. They are in nice feminine colours, but that is not very important. Although woman do buy shoes based on their cosmetics.

The shape of the womans shoe is different. The heel is narrower and the forefoot is wider.

Because of the increased pronation most ladies should wear supportive / antipronation shoes if they need to.

A woman CAN wear a mans shoe if it fits her foot correctly.

How do I know what foot type I am?

The analysis of a foot anatomically and functionally is a complex task best carried out by a sports podiatrist.

In the running shoe shop situation the person can look at the old shoe to analyse then which helps determine what foot type / biomechanics the runner has.

Looking at the foot may also help determine what foot type

And watching the runner run in the shoes will help see if the shoes are ok for the runner.

Can I change my foot type?

You cannot change your foot type. It is a genetic deficit you inherit.

You can wear the correct shoe for your foot type. This will reduce the possibility of injury.

If necessary an orthotic / foot support could be made to change / improve the foot function which will reduce the possibility of injury

What about running shoe cushioning?

All running shoes have good cushioning systems in them. Devices / materials like AIR, GEL, ADIPRENE, ABZORB etc will cushion the foot / body while running. We really do not need any more cushioning than the shoes have.

The fact that modern running shoes have such sophisticated midsoles and cushioning systems will “rob” the persons sensory ability to respond to impact. This is reducing the foots natural function.

Advances in running shoe technology

There is lots and lots of new technology in running shoes.

Each major running shoe company is doing research and improving the technology in their running shoes.

New cushioning systems / materials are being developed.

Most new technology does not work in isolation. The modern trend is for all the technology systems in the shoe will work together to cushion the foot and to control the foot into its natural foot function. The shoe does not work against the shoe. The shoe and the technology will work together with the foot to improve and maintain foot function.

This information and / advice is the opinion of the author in his capacity as a qualified and registered podiatrist.

The information and advice is meant as a guide only and is intended to be easily understandable to the lay person.

Anyone seeking health and/or medical advice is strongly advised to consult a qualified professional of their choice.  If you have any specific questions about any podiatric or medical matter or are in need of treatment you should consult your podiatrist, doctor, or other professional health care provider.