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While for many people, these generalizations hold true, it’s not the case for everyone. Thomas Mikkelsen, an avid runner based in Holliston, Massachusetts, says that for him, the standard advice offered by running store gait analysis doesn’t work because often, the individual doing the assessment is focusing just on the feet, rather than how his body moves as a whole.

For example in Mikkelsen’s case, he’s knock-kneed (knees bent toward each other) and when he runs, he overpronates a lot. That’s immediately obvious, so many running store staff will recommend motion-control shoes that prevent the foot from rolling in.

“In a theoretically perfect gait, you should not see the knee or not have any more pressure on one side or the other. My foot rolls in quite a bit, and you need motion control to correct that” because that’s believed to cause damage to the ankles and knees.

However, in Mikkelsen’s case, motion-control shoes “act against my natural body dynamics” and led to iliotibial band issues, knee problems and shin splints. Those problems disappeared for him when he started using a neutral shoe, which means “no structure, no posting, no guidance of the foot movements.” He’s found a lot of success with Inov-8, a U.K.-based brand of shoe designed for trail running.

To prevent this sort of issue when you go shopping, he recommends “making sure that the person who’s evaluating you is evaluating not just what your feet are doing, but what your hips and upper body and shoulders are doing relative to the position of the feet.”

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