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In order to avoid injury, it is absolutely essential to choose the right running shoe. If you are serious about running, you should have your foot type evaluated by a professional running shoe salesperson, but before you do that educate yourself on the different shoe types, the different foot types, as well as running shoe reviews. You need to know what type of foot you have in order to choose a shoe that correctly supports your particular foot type. Running shoes have one of three different shapes: straight, semicurved and curved. To discover which type your foot is, take the wet test: dunk your foot in water and then stand on any surface that will leave an imprint of your foot. When you look at this imprint, you should find that you have one of the three most common foot types—normal, flat, or high arched.

Normal feet have a normal-sized arch and leave an imprint that has a flare but shows the forefoot and heel connected by a wide band. This type of foot tends to land on the outside of the heel, then rolls inward (pronates) slightly to absorb shock. Runners with a normal foot and normal weight are usually considered biomechanically efficient and don't require motion-control shoes. If you have this type of foot, you have a broad range of shoes to choose from.

Flat feet have a low arch and when taking the wet test, leave a nearly complete imprint. This imprint usually indicates that the foot strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls inward excessively. This is called overpronation and can cause many different kinds of injuries. If you have flat feet, you will likely need motion-control shoes, or stability shoes with firm midsoles and control features that reduce the degree of pronation. Stay away from highly cushioned, curved-lasted shoes that lack stability and control. High-arched feet leave an imprint showing a very narrow band connecting the forefoot and heel. This is called a supinated or underpronated foot. This type of foot doesn't pronate enough, so it's not an effective shock absorber. If you have this kind of foot, you will need cushioned shoes with plenty of flexibility to encourage foot motion. Stay away from motion-control or stability shoes that reduce foot mobility.

When you know what kind of foot you have, it’s easier to choose the right type of shoe. Runners with high aches need cushioned shoes because such shoes generally have the softest midsoles. They are usually built to be semicurved or curved to encourage foot motion. Runners with flat feet generally need motion-control shoes, which are the most rigid, control-oriented running shoes. Designed to slow the rate at which a runner overpronates, motion-control shoes are generally heavy but very durable. They may include features such as a medial post for pronation control, a polyurethane midsole for durability and a carbon rubber outsole for durability. Or runners with flat feet may choose stability shoes, which offer a good blend of cushioning, medial support and durability. Runners with normal feet have their choice of stability shoes, cushioned shoes, or racing shoes, depending on their personal preference.

So now that you know your foot type and shoe type, it is best to read some reviews of specific running shoes so you know what to look for when you go shopping. Runner’s World (both print and online) has a great review column of shoes.

Use these suggestions as a guide. Do your own homework; go into a store, try on a few pairs, see what you like best. And now you’ll know if the salesman is knowledgeable or not. If he is, he’ll know all about overpronation—and now, so will you.