What Your Running Shoes are Trying to Tell You


by John Stanton

If your running shoes could talk, think of the stories they’d tell. While you’re probably grateful that they can’t share the play-by-play of the time you stepped in goose droppings, your well-worn shoes do have a lot to say about what kind of runner you are. Before you purchase a new pair, give your old shoes a proper once-over to learn more about your running style.

Remove your pair of “old faithfuls” and follow these steps.

Step 1: View the shoe from the rear.
You may already know if you are an overpronator (where your foot rolls inward too much while running or walking) or an underpronator/supinator (with limited inward motion). A closer look at your existing shoes can help confirm this.

Set the shoes on a flat surface at eye level. Imagine a centre line running vertically through the back of the shoe, perpendicular to the ground. If your shoes appear to be leaning inward from the centre line, that indicates a tendency to overpronate. If the shoes naturally shift outward, you are probably a supinator.

Step 2: Check the soles.
Examine the bottoms of your shoes and notice which areas show more fading or discolouration. Are the treads or grips worn down in certain areas? More pronounced wear and tear on the inner or “big toe” side of the shoe points to overpronation. Excessive wear on the sole from the ball of the foot toward the toes is another telltale sign. In contrast, runners who supinate will show wear on the outer edge or “little toe” side of the sole.

Step 3: Examine the toe box.
For runners with normal pronation, the upper (the fabric in the toe area) retains its shape fairly well. If the upper sags inward, it’s a sign that the runner overpronates during push-off.

Step 4: Take them shopping with you.
When purchasing new shoes, it is helpful if you bring your existing shoes along. The Running Room store staff will be able to expertly assess the wear pattern and provide further insight about that particular type of shoe for your running style.


John Stanton is the President and Founder of the Running Room. He is the author of 10 books about running, walking and family fitness.

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