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.
Underpronation is not enough evening out so the outside of your foot takes most of the shock instead of finishing in the neutral position.
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:
You have a normal arch (neutral pronation) if:
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Running Shoe Selection Guide||Severe Overpronation||Mild Overpronation||Neutral||Underpronation Supination|
|Motion Control (M/W)|
Typically, running shoes come in three shapes (straight, semi-curved and curved) which correspond to the three types of prints revealed by the wet test. Most experts believe that:
If you have flat feet and overpronate, choose a Motion-Control running shoe. Motion control shoes prevent your foot from rolling in too far, have a straight shape that gives maximum support to your foot and are the most rigid, control-oriented running shoes.
If you have high-arched feet and underpronate, you should choose a Cushioned running shoe. Cushioned shoes allow your feet to roll inward (absorbing shock), have a curved shape to encourage foot motion and have the softest midsole with the least medial support.
If you have normal arches and pronate normally, choose a Stability running shoe. Stability shoes offer a good blend of cushioning, medial support and durability. They often have a semi-curved shape and don't control foot motion as strictly as motion-control shoes.
Finally, if you like to run fast and race seriously, you should choose a High Peformance running shoe (at least for race days). Performance shoes are lighter, built on a semi curved to curved last, have less cushioning, are lower to the ground, have a lower heel-to-toe ramp angle and lack the majority of cushioning and stability features of standard running shoes.
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.
Visual View of the Different Foot Types
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:
If you've followed all the steps listed above, you probably have a pretty good idea of what type of running shoe you should be looking for and how to choose running shoes. However, it still pays to go to a specialty running store (at least for your first running shoe purchase). The people who work in these stores are knowledgeable and will guide you to the appropriate shoe models.
Here are some tips for a successful running shoe shopping trip.
Before you try on any shoes, the salesperson should (at least) ask you the following questions to help you select the right running shoe model.
Based on your answers, the salesperson will direct you to various models that will fit your needs and help you select some for you to try.
Use the following guidelines to ensure a proper running shoe fit.
If you know which running shoes are right for you and are ready to shop online, take a look at the following running shoe merchant.
Listed below is my Top Recommendation: