Finding the Right Fitness Shoe

Registered Dietitian Melanie Douglass analyzes which fitness shoe is best.


What Kind of Shoe is Best?

People often think they need to shop for shoes by activity: a walking shoe for walking; a cross-trainer for aerobics, etc. But the truth is, for most fitness activities a running shoe works perfectly. Running shoes have the best technology and are more durable, breathable, cushioned and supportive—making them the optimal shoe for a variety of activities. In addition, running shoes are light and flexible, which makes the heel to toe transition smoother and reduces vibration.

The major determining factor in what type of shoe you need is whether or not your foot “over-pronates”. Pronation is the natural rolling in of the foot with each foot strike. Over-pronation is when the foot excessively rolls inward, which causes the arch to flatten and the knee turn inward. Over-pronation is very common and can

be the cause of foot, ankle, knee, hip or back pain. It’s important to know what kind of foot motion you have so you can get the right shoe.

Determining Foot Type/Motion

If you don’t have access to a shoe store with a shoe-fitting expert, then try one these methods to determine what type of foot motion you have:

1. Footprint Test:

Place one (bare) foot in some water; then step onto a hard surface like tile or concrete and look at the impression of your footprint. If your foot is flat, then the strip between your foot and your heel will be the same width as the front of the foot. If you have normal arches, the strip will be about half the width of the front of the foot. If you have high arches, then a thin strip connects the front of the foot with the heel.

2. Shoe evaluation:

Place your shoes on a flat surface and view them at eye level from behind. If there is more wear on the inside of the sole, especially in the heel area, then you’ve likely got a flat foot motion – or overpronation.

My Recommendations

Mizuno makes the best running/fitness shoes. Period. I’ve been a fitness instructor for 14 years, and for the first 9 years, I suffered—almost continually—from shin splints and foot and knee pain. Then I found Mizuno… they are durable, supportive, extremely well cushioned, and ridiculously comfortable (forget exercise, I want to wear these shoes all the time!). I haven’t had a problem with pain or overuse injuries since I started wearing Mizuno shoes.

Simple walking puts 1.5 times your body weight of pressure on your feet, and running puts 3x your body weight of pressure on your feet… it’s amazing to me that such a light and comfortable shoe can absorb all that pressure—and make your foot feel great at the same time.

Mizuno make shoes for three types of foot motion:

1) Neutral: normal pronation

– well-cushioned in the forefoot and very flexible

– one wave plate = best cushioning, rebound, transition & durability

– top pick: Mizuno Wave Creation 9

2) Support: moderate pronation

– cushioning is in the heel and the forefoot

– double wave plate (larger on the medial side) provides more support

– top pick: Mizuno Nirvana 4

3) Control: severe pronation

– cushioning is the heel only

– triple wave plate (larger on the medial side) has the most support and stability to keep foot neutral and reduce pronation

– top pick: Mizuno Alchemy 7


Mizuno Running Shoes are available at Salt Lake Running Co.
You can also visit their website for more information, and other store locations.

Have a health question for Melanie? Click here to submit your question and Melanie will answer your question on an upcoming Studio 5 segment!


By Melanie Douglass, R.D., NASM

Author: Tip-a-Day Guide to Healthy Living

(Deseret Book, 2007)

© 2007 Melanie Douglass, Deseret Book

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