In determining how to choose a running shoe, your choice of running shoes can make the difference between having a good or bad experience, running in comfort or pain, and, most importantly, whether you stay healthy or get injured.
The biggest and most common mistake I see novice runners make, (and yes, I made the same mistake), is to bargain shop for an inexpensive first pair of running shoes right off the shoe store clearance table, or worse, off the rack at a department store. After all, who wants to pay a lot for shoes when you may not actually use them much? How do you justify a higher priced running shoe to your spouse? Aren't you just paying a lot for a logo on the side?
All these observations make sense. But this kind of thinking will likely lead you to the equally logical decision to quit after a couple of miserable runs. The very tenacious among us may wait until they suffer a blown-out knee or serious shin, hip or foot problem. Forget bargains. What you need to start running is the right shoe, not the cheapest.
Choosing a running shoe can be an overwhelming task given all the high-tech shoes available today and all the
special features each running shoe claims to have.
That's why I've written this "Simple Steps for Choosing a Running Shoe" guide. Just follow the steps below, and you'll discover which running shoes are best for you.
- Understand Pronation
- Determine Your Foot Type
- Select Your Gait Type
- Choose the Right Running Shoe for You
- Go to a Local Speciality Running Store
- Ensure Your New Running Shoes Fit Properly
- Top Recommended Online Running Shoe Merchant
Overpronation is too much roll across from the outside to the inside of your foot.
To determine your level of pronation, look at your shoes you walk or run in. Most everyone will begin on the outside of the heel, the real indicator would be the wear on the forefoot.
If most of the shoe wear is:
- On the medial (inside) side then you Overpronate and probably need to choose Motion-Control Running Shoes
- On the lateral (outside) side then you Underpronate and most likely need to choose Cushioned Running Shoes
- Uniform across the forefoot then you have a Neutral Stride and are best suited for choosing Stability Running Shoes
There's a distinct curve along the inside of your foot with a band a little less than half the width of your foot connecting the heel and toe. (Choose Stability Running Shoes)
You have a low arch (flat feet/overpronator) if:
There's not much of a curve along the inside of your foot and your imprint shows almost the entire foot. People with low arches are more likely to overpronate (roll too far inward), which can lead to overuse injuries. (Choose Motion-Control Running Shoes)
You have a high arch (underpronator) if:
There's a very sharp curve along the inside of your foot and your imprint shows a very thin band between your heel and toe. People with high arches typically don't pronate enough. (Choose Cushioned Running Shoes)
| Severe Overpronation: The outside of the heel strikes the ground first and the foot rolls inwardexcessively which means the foot and ankle cannot properly stabilize the body. |
The best running shoes for moderate to severe Overpronators are Stability shoes (Men's| Women's) or Motion Control shoes (Men's| Women's)depending on the severity of overpronation.
| Mild Overpronation: The outside of the heel strikes the ground first and the foot rolls inward slightly absorbing the shock more effectively which allows the foot and ankle to properly support the body. This is the most common foot type. |
The best running shoes for Mild Overpronators are Stability shoes (Men's| Women's).
| Neutral: The middle to slightly outward part of the heel strikes the ground first and the foot rolls inward slightly absorbing the shock more effectively which allows the foot and ankle to properly support the body. |
The best running shoes for Neutral runners are Neutral Cushioning shoes(Men's| Women's)for feet that are more rigid.
| Supination: The outside of the heel strikes the ground first but the foot does not roll inward during the gait cycle. Instead it stays on the outside causing the impact to be concentrated on a smaller portion on the lateral side of the foot. |
The best running shoes for Supinators are more flexible Neutral Cushioning shoes (Men's| Women's).
- Overpronators should choose a running shoe with a Straight shape.
- Underpronators should choose a running shoe with a Curved shape.
- Normal/Neutral pronators should choose a running shoe with a Semi-Curved shape.
High Performance shoes are most suitable for 'serious' or elite racers. Their lack of stability and cushioning make them inappropriate for the vast majority of recreational runners.
For a video view of what we've been talking about previously, click below to learn about the different foot-types and the correct shoe for each of the three types:
Here are some tips for a successful running shoe shopping trip.
- Shop in the late afternoon when your feet are at their largest. Your feet will expand while running.
- Bring your old shoes with you when you go shopping. Shoe wear will assist the salesperson in determining your degree of pronation.
- Wear or buy the socks you'll wear when you run.
- If you wear orthotics, bring them also. You need to see how the shoe fits with the orthotic inside.
- Do NOT make the most common mistake new runners make by buying the latest fad shoe. It is highly likely this will not be the ideal shoe for you.
- Make sure the salesperson measures both of your feet. Often, one foot is slightly larger than the other. You should be fitted for the larger foot.
- How long have you been running?
- How much mileage are you doing per week?
- Are you training for a particular event?
- Where do you do most of your running?
- How much do you weigh?
- Are you aware of any foot problems (i.e. flat feet, over- or underpronation)?
Use the following guidelines to ensure a proper running shoe fit.
- Check for adequate room at the toebox by pressing your thumb into the shoe just above your longest toe. Your thumb should fit between the end of your toe and the top of the shoe.
- Check for adequate room at the widest part of your foot. The shoe shouldn't be tight, but your foot shouldn't slide around, either.
- The heel of your foot should fit snugly against the back of the shoe without sliding up or down as you walk or run.
- The upper (part of shoe that wraps around and over the top of the foot) should fit snugly and securely without irritating or pressing too tightly on any area of the foot.
- Once you've found running shoes that feel right, walk/jog/run in them as much as you can. Some stores have a treadmill, others allow a run around the parking lot and some don't let you do anything other than bounce up and down. You need to feel the shoes in action.
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