Wet Test: How to Determine Your Type of Foot
Just as all people are different so are all foot types. Some people have high arches, while others are flat footed. Knowing what shoes will work best for you involves knowing your foot type so you can get the right fit. If you go into a specialty store the sales clerk will ask you if you are an overpronator or an underpronator. By knowing the answer you can get a better shoe for your foot. How can you know which foot type you are? This simple test using only water and a piece of paper will tell you.
The wet test
For this test get a basin of water and fill it with about an inch of water. Next to the basin place a piece of paper, a darker paper will work better. Place your barefoot into the water then stand on the paper making sure not to press it down, but standing as normal. Next step off the paper and examine the print. If the arch in the middle of the foot covers most of the paper this is likely a sign of overpronation or "flat foot". If the arches are high in the middle and the foot almost looks like a crescent moon, this is likely a sign of underpronation. Depending on the results of the test, you will want different types of shoes.
The overpronator needs a more supportive shoe to prevent injury. This shoe will be more of a stability shoe with more arch support. This keeps the foot in place and allow for maximum motion control. Without the added arch support the foot pounds the ground flatly and does not do the natural roll that is produced by the arched foot. The stability of the shoe forms the foot so the arches are used and a proper motions if forms through the entire stride.
The underpronator naturally has a high arch and does not need arch support but more cushioning. This cushioning can be built into the sole of the shoe in the form of a gel or if it is a more cushioned insole to provide comfort to the arches. The cushioning provides a pad so that the foot comes more in contact with the ground and you are not only running on a small arch. By not having an arch built into the shoe, more of the foot is allowed to contact the ground during the stride.
There is a middle ground from the wet test where the arches are neither too high or too low which is referred to as neutral pronation. If your foot falls somewhere in this middle range, you also need a shoe in the middle range with a small arch support and some cushioning. A shoe with moderate stability and moderate cushioning would fit this foot type. The neutral pronator is also a candidate for any of the newer trend of minimalist shoes since they do not require additional cushioning or stability.
Your foot type determines the type of shoes that you need. Doing a wet test to find out if you are an overpronator or an underpronator will get you on the road to finding the right shoe to get the best comfort and prevent injury. The shoe industry makes a large variety of shoes and buying the right one will keep you on your feet for the long run.