When I used to work in a running shoe store people used to come in and ask what shoe would be best for them. The first thing I did is ask them what their arch type was. If they didn’t know what they were (which most didn’t) I would go through 3 basic steps to determining their foot arch type.
There are generally 3 different arch types that vary in magnitude. In the figure below we can see the wet print of the three types. There is the neutral arch, the high arch (otherwise known as supination), and the flat arch (otherwise known as pronation).
Arch Type Test #1
One of the easiest ways to determine arch type is to take off your shoes and have someone look at how high your arch is from a side view. If you can fit about the width of your finger under the arch you have a neutral arch type. The flatter the arch than that you are a pronator and the higher the arch you are a supinator.
Arch Type Test #2
While you have your shoes off stand with you back to someone and have them look at angle of either your ankles or Achilles tendon. If they angle towards the middle then you are a pronator, if they are level and parallel you are neutral, and they angle out then you are a supinator.
Arch Type Test #3
If no one is around to help and you have some shoes that have been decently worn already, check the bottom of them where the ball of your foot would be. If you see wear on the inside of the shoe where your big toe is then you are a pronator, if the wear is in the middle of the shoe then you are neutral, and if the wear is on the outside where your little toe would be then you are a supinator.
3 Types of Shoes
There are different shoes designed to match your arch type. For the pronator the best choice for a shoe type is one that provides stability. For those who supinate, the shoe of choice would be a cushioning shoe. Now someone with a neutral arch type can really pick between two kinds. They can wear shoes that have cushioning like a supinator or they can choose shoes that are themselves neutral.
Follow this general guideline and you will be able to match your foot to your shoe in no time.