Sole Searching: A Simple Test to Learn Your Arch Type

Lara Rosenbaum
by Lara Rosenbaum
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Sole Searching: A Simple Test to Learn Your Arch Type

Knowing your arch type and whether or not you pronate can help you choose the proper footwear, and in turn, improve your runs. “Some pronation is normal,” says Dallas-based sports podiatrist, Marybeth Crane, DPM, author of “If Your Running Feet Could Talk.” “Too much or too little pronation can cause all kinds of overuse injuries due to abnormal stress.”

Fortunately, it’s easy to determine your arch type at home. Try the ‘Wet Test’ before buying your next pair of shoes. The results from this 3-step test will help you figure out your arch type, which is one of a few factors to consider when shoe shopping.

Through this, you may learn that you’d benefit from shoes with stabilizing technology, or if your arch case seems extreme, you may need to see a podiatrist or go to a specialty store for orthotics.



Follow these steps to get to know your arch type:

  1. Fill a large bowl or tray with water and set it on the floor. (Avoid carpet and instead choose a hard, smooth surface.) Place a brown paper bag on the floor next to the tray.
  2. Wet your foot in the tray and then place it on the paper bag.
  3. Stand on that leg and then step off the bag and look at your footprint.


If about half the arch area is filled in, your foot is normal and you can wear just about any type of running shoe.


If most or all of your arch area is filled, your foot is flat, which means it would roll in or pronate as you run.

If this is the case, you might benefit from extra-supportive stability shoes. “A lower arch tends to internally rotate your leg during the gait cycle, causing pressure on your arch, posterior tibial tendons (the biggest tendon that helps hold up your arch) and the inside part of your knee,” Crane says. “Stability shoes help decelerate the rotation and decrease the abnormal stress on these structures.”


If the arch area is blank, and your foot shape looks like a skinny sickle (with only the heel, ball of the foot, toes and outer edge creating a mark), then you have a high arch. “This can also cause foot, knee, leg, hip and/or back pain,” Crane says. You may also benefit from stability shoes, which can help distribute your weight upon your foot strike and help prevent undue stress. Certain shoes cater to over- or under-pronators, and usually say so in the product description.

About the Author

Lara Rosenbaum
Lara Rosenbaum
Lara is a writer, athlete and wellness expert living in Nashville, Tennessee. She has held editorial positions at several magazines, including Women’s Health, where she was the founding fitness editor. Lara is a former elite athlete, traveling the world as a member of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, as well as a certified personal trainer and yoga teacher. In her free time she enjoys playing with her dogs, spotting art and strumming her guitar.


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