Feet come in millions of different shapes. Some people believe foot shape can tell us about our ancestors, and others claim it can tell us about our personalities. At FitMyFoot, we take a different approach. We believe that learning your own unique foot type is the first step towards finding those elusive shoes that compliment your one-of-a-kind feet in every possible way.
It’s difficult to find that perfect fit—especially if you don’t know the first thing about your foot type. That’s where FitMyFoot can help. We’re here to present you with the facts, and provide useful strategies that can aid you in discovering your foot type—and in turn, point you in the right direction of the ideal shoe that fulfills your specific needs.
Five determining factors:
Unfortunately there isn’t a perfect system for determining foot types. There’s no magical chart that places you in category A, B, or C. But even so, we’ve come up with five factors that can help you gain a better understanding of your feet. Let’s start with a lesser known one:
1. Pronation types:
Pronationis the natural rotation of the foot that occurs when you plant your feet while walking or running. In other words, it's your ankle and arch rolling or tipping inwards slightly, allowing for shock absorption as your feet hit the ground. But how can you know if your feet pronate correctly? Well, everyone’s feet can be classified into one of three pronation types: pronator, supinator, or neutral.
- The pronator type—Your feet roll inwards when walking or running. Heavier people’s feet are often in this category.
- The supinator type—Your feet roll outwards and the impact of walking or running is shifted to the outer edges of your foot.
- The neutral type—Your feet land heel-first and roll forward, distributing the impact evenly across your forefoot.
How can you tell your pronation type?
Take a look at the bottom of your shoes. The wear and tear will likely reveal the answer.
- If your inner soles are worn down, you may have the pronator type.
- If your shoes show excessive wear on the outer soles, you probably have the supinator type.
- If your shoes have even wear, you likely have the neutral type.
Now, let’s take a look at the second factor for determining your foot type.
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Arches can prove very helpful in determining your type. According tohealth.uconn.edu there are three different arch types: neutral, low, and high. Arches also affect the direction your foot rolls, and the severity—implying that they’re heavily connected to pronation.
How do you figure out your arch type? Simple. Find some dirt or sand and make a footprint—it’ll tell you everything you need to know.
- Neutral arches—When observing your footprint, if the middle part of your arch is about half filled it means you have a neutral arch. This means your feet roll in a healthy way.
- Low arches—If your footprint looks like a complete foot, then you have a flat arch. Typically this causes the foot to roll excessively inward. For more information, take a look at “How to tell if you have flat feet.”
- High arches—If you see very little of the arch area in your footprint, you likely have high arches. Typically this causes the foot to roll inwards at impact. For solutions to this issue, read about “High arch insoles.”
If you have high or low arches or if you’re experiencing arch pain of any kind, consider reading our article on “Arch pain and what it means for you.” With that being said, let’s explore another factor.
3. Length and width:
The first thing you need when buying shoes is the length and width of your feet. Many shoes (and feet) have different proportions such as narrow, medium, wide, or extra-wide. Some shoe brands are more suitable for narrow feet, while others are meant for medium or wide. Knowing your measurements will help you make the right decision choosing shoes directly proportional to your feet.
But knowing your foot’s length and width doesn’t tell you everything.
4. Foot volume:
Length and width only work in two dimensions. We however, live in the third dimension—which means we need a third axis. That’s where volume comes in. Parts of your feet have different volumes, so we’ve separated your feet into three sections for easier measurement:
- Toe area (around the ball of the foot and toes)
- Midfoot area (the mid-section up to the ankle)
- Instep area (ankle and heel)
Volume can be estimated with a measuring tape, but it can also be determined by observation. If shoes are usually too loose, you likely have a lower foot volume—and if they’re too tight, vice versa. If there aren’t any issues, your foot volume is probably pretty normal.
But what about toes? Are they a determining factor?
5. Foot shape and toes:
Do you have a common foot shape? The most typical are showcased in the diagram below, with a close examination of toes:
The feet in the diagram above correlate with the toe types listed below:
- Steep slope—Long big toe with a strong slope towards the pinkie.
- Gentle slope—Long big toe with a milder curved slope.
- Square feet—Similar length toes with a gentle slope and a squared form.
- Mountain feet—Second toe is the longest with the next three sloping towards the pinky.
- Plateau 2—First two toes are the same length, the other three slope towards the pinky.
- Plateau 3—First three toes are the same length, the other two slope towards the pinky.
Do your feet resemble any of the images? If not, you may have a unique foot type. For more info on foot shapes/types, visit “What is my foot type?”
So, what’s your foot type?
These five factors create so many foot type variations, and shoes are definitely not one-size-fits-all. But that doesn’t mean the criteria should always be a 100% match. Most brands try to make shoes that can fit different foot types, so don’t eliminate a shoe just because the shape doesn't perfectly match your foot.
With that in mind, hopefully you have a better idea of your specific foot type and what it means for you. Understanding your feet should make it way easier to recognize the optimal pair of shoes—when you finally get your hands on them.