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The Long Run: Understanding Your Feet

The Long Run: Understanding Your Feet

Distance running can seem very daunting, but believe it or not, you can do it too! Ready to train for your first half marathon? Or maybe you’re about to tackle your 10th half or even a full! Join in on The Long Run for different tips and tricks for before, during and after to make it through your long run while feeling your best.


As a runner, your feet are your vehicle. You must learn to love your feet. And more importantly, you need to understand your feet and how they work. That being said, today’s topic is about understanding your feet! It’s really important to know how high {or low} your arches are as well as how much you pronate…or don’t pronate.



Pronation is the rotational movement of the foot at the subtalar joint. Normal pronation is when the foot rolls inward by about 15% which is the ideal amount of pronation for your joints. This allows your entire foot to come in contact with the ground and has the optimal amount of dispersed impact. Overpronation is when the foot rolls inward more than 15%. This causes you to land on the front of your foot where you would then push off using primarily your big toe and second toe. It’s usually common for flat-footed runners to overpronate. Under-pronation {also known as supination} is when the outside of your heel strikes the ground, your foot rotates less than 15% and your outside toes are doing the most work. Want to know what types of shoes to buy for your foot type and pronation level? Take a look at these Runner’s World articles, Pronation Explained! and Supination Explained!

In 2011, at the RnR Philly Race Expo, I did an alignment test with Aline. Aline is an insole that corrects the positioning of your foot and allows it to function at your optimum level while reducing wear and tear on your body. Follow the link to learn more! Before going into the alignment test, I knew that I had high arches and that my feet were a bit messed up. During the alignment, I realized just how bad it was! I wish that I had pictures. For the test, you put your foot between these two metal rods. You ankle is supposed to fall down the middle when bending your knees. My left ankle rolled out a little and was slightly supinated. However, my right foot was a hot mess! My inside ankle bone actually touched the metal rod which would mean I have a severe over pronation. However, when I run, I actually supinate on my right foot as well because I run on the outsides of my feet. Pretty bizarre right? Pretty much I need to work on my inner thigh strength so my feet don’t go in so much when I’m standing.

This picture is a great example of how I supinate. Yikes that’s no good!

Attention Over Pronators:

  • You will want a running shoe with stability
  • Test your ankle flexibility: While in a standing position, place your feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure that your feet and toes are pointing forward and not turned outward (away from the midline of the body). See if you can get into a squatting position that places your knees at or below 90 degrees of flexion (bending) without your heels coming off the ground or your feet externally rotating (turning outward). If you can’t do this, your lack of flexibility in your ankles could be the problem!
  • You could possible have flat feet and tight calf muscles
  • Be careful! Running like this can lead to medial tibial stress syndrome {aka shin splints} and knee problems

Attention Under-Pronators or Supinators:

  • You will want a neutral running shoe
  • Lightweight shoes will be more beneficial because they allow for more foot motion
  • Do extra stretching for the iliotibial band, quads and hamstrings
  • You probably have high arches and tight achilles tendons
  • Be careful! Running like this can lead to iliotibial band syndrome {aka Runner’s Knee}, plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis.
It’s important to know how your feet function, especially if you are a distance runner. Take the time to truly figure them out! You can have alignment test done at running specialty stores, race expos and some shoe stores as well! I highly recommend having a test done to make sure your protecting your body. The better your form, the longer you’ll be able to run {distance and age!}.

Do you know how high or low your arches are? 

Have you had an alignment test to determine your pronation?
Are we liking these topics? Yay, nay? I would love some new post ideas!
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