Sneakers that fit correctly can improve performance, last longer and help prevent blisters and calluses. Plus, they just feel better. Determining the correct shoe size, fit and arch type play important roles in finding the most supportive sneaker. To determine the arch type, place a wet footprint on cement or cardboard and look at the outline. If most or all of the foot is showing, the arch is low; if the foot looks skinny, it is a high arch; and if the print lies somewhere in-between, it is a neutral arch.
Low arches require a straight "last," which refers to the way the shoe was built and the shape of the footprint. A low-arched foot needs a shoe that is designed to be straight to provide room for the arch. A firm insert on the arch side of the shoe will also help with motion control on a low-arched foot. A structured mid-sole, which is the foam cushion layer of shoe, will help aid in stability and a lower heel will give support to the back of the foot. Low-arched feet often roll inward in overpronation, causing injury unless the structured medial support is in place.
Neutral arches are the most common type of foot and depending on the degree of overpronation, can wear either straight or semi-curved shaped shoes. While neutral arches don't require as much stability as low arches, they still need a moderate amount, particularly in the rear of the shoe. This helps support the heel, where the foot strikes first when running.
Depending on the size and shape of the foot, a curved last may help a runner with high arches feel comfortable. High-arched feet also need a lot of cushion. The extra padding helps these feet absorb shock and ease strain on joints and muscles. Mid-foot support also gives structure to the sides of the arch.