If you're a serious runner, you're probably well-acquainted with the term "pronation." It's used to describe the motion of a runner's foot rolling inward as it hits the ground, and many running sneakers are designed specifically to "correct" pronation issues. As it it turns out, this entire theory is false, and there's scientific studies to prove it.
Today, The New York Times has highlighted a new review from Dr. Benno Nigg, an expert on human movement and biomechanics, that attempted to scientifically prove if the "right" running sneakers could actually fix a runner's form and decrease the likelihood of injuries.
Dr. Nigg and his colleagues spent tireless hours thumbing through studies to find if there was any truth to the hype surrounding pronation control. The short answer? Not at all.
According to his findings, Dr. Nigg says pronators needn't worry, there's no need to "correct" the inward rolling of the foot. In fact, doing so could actually cause more injuries.
He wrote that "a pronated foot position is, if anything, an advantage with respect to running injuries," citing a study in which 1,000 beginner runners — including pronators and neutral runners — were given the exact same shoes and tracked for a full year. In the end, many of the runners with a "normal" foot strike had experienced injuries while many of the pronators came out unharmed.
So, what's the "right" way to choose your running shoes? It's actually quite simple: just cop whatever's comfortable. In a 2011 study overseen by Dr. Nigg, soldiers were asked to test out six different shoe inserts with varying levels of cushion, arch support, shape, and so forth and choose the one that was felt most comfortable to use throughout military training.
Meanwhile, a control group wore standard sneakers without inserts. At the end of the study, the men who chose inserts that felt most comfortable had a considerably lower rate of injury.
"Try on four or five pairs. People can usually tell right away which shoe feels the most comfortable. That is the one to choose," Dr. Nigg said.
And there you have it, pronators.