Running is a great way to get exercise and improve your overall health, but it’s important to choose the right pair of running shoes to avoid injuries.
Any runner may benefit from a quality pair of running shoes, regardless of experience level. The right pair will complement your running style, and not only do they make your workout more comfortable, but they can also help you run farther and faster. In this article, I’ll talk about how to choose the right running shoes for you.
One of the most important things to consider when choosing running shoes is your gait pattern. This refers to the way your foot strikes the ground when you run. There are three main types of gaits:
Neutral pronation happens when the foot falls on the outside border and subsequently rolls inward in a controlled way, spreading the weight equally and absorbing the impact of the ground. Most people are neutral runners, and they have a midfoot or forefoot strike. When you push off, the front of your foot is evenly distributed with pressure. Neutral shoes are ideal for this type of gait pattern.
Overpronation happens when the foot rolls inward excessively, causing the inner ankle bone to protrude and putting more pressure on the big toe. This can lead to injuries such as Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and stress fractures. Overpronators have flat feet, so they need to look for shoes that provide good arch support, such as stability shoes or motion control running shoes.
Stability shoes have a solid heel counter (the back part of the shoe that encases the heel) and dual-density midsoles (two layers of cushioning). They are more rigid than running shoes and are ideal for those who have slight overpronation.
Motion control shoes are designed for runners with severe overpronation. They provide a high level of support and control to prevent the foot from rolling inward too much. The midsole and heel cup work together to give a substantial amount of arch support.
Underpronation, also called supination, is when the foot rolls outward (less than 85 percent) so that the weight is borne mainly on the outer edge of the foot. This can cause problems with shock absorption and can lead to injuries such as Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and stress fractures. People with this type of gait need a neutral shoe that is cushioned to help absorb impact.
If you’re still unsure of your gait type, visit a running specialty store or go to a shoe fitting with a knowledgeable salesperson. You may check the wear pattern of your shoes to determine your pronation type. You can also ask a friend to watch you run from behind while on the treadmill.
The shoes you choose should also be based on the surface you’ll be running on. If you run on paved roads, look for shoes that are made specifically for that. The same goes for if you run off-road or on gravel or trails.
There are different types of running shoes designed for each of these surfaces, so it’s important to choose accordingly. Examples include the following:
These shoes are designed for running on roads and are typically made with a heel-to-toe drop of 10-12mm. They have a thick, cushioned sole to provide shock absorption and protect the feet from the impact of the pavement.
Also known as barefoot shoes, they are designed to mimic the natural movement of the feet. They allow for a more natural range of motion and provide less support and cushioning than traditional running shoes.
Trail running shoes are designed for off-road running and have features such as a rock plate to protect the feet from sharp objects, a waterproof upper to keep out debris, and a lugged outsole for traction on uneven terrain.
If you run on multiple surfaces, you might want to have more than one pair of running shoes.
Heel drop is the difference in height between the heel and toe of a running shoe. A higher heel drop encourages a heel-strike pattern, which means you land on your heel first when you run. This can be hard on the knees and can lead to injuries. On the other hand, a lower heel drop encourages a midfoot or forefoot strike pattern, which is more natural and puts less stress on the body.
- A traditional running shoe has a heel drop of 10-12mm, which means the heel is higher off the ground than the toe
- Moderate minimalist shoes have a heel-to-drop of 4-10mm.
- Zero-drop shoes have a 0-4mm heel-toe drop range, which means the heel and toe are at the same level.
The toe box is the part of the shoe that encompasses the toes. It should be wide enough to allow your toes to move freely and not feel cramped. This is important for both comfort and injury prevention.
If the toe box does not fit correctly, it may lead to quite a few problems like blisters, ingrown toenails, corns and calluses, and crooked toes. It can also lead to major problems such as irritated nerves, discomfort in the ball of the foot, and even arthritis.
To find the right toe box yourself, make sure there is enough space between the end of your longest toe and the front of the shoe. There should also be enough room to wiggle your toes. The toe box should not be too loose, as this can cause the foot to slip inside the shoe and lead to blisters.
You may have broad feet if your toes feel constrained in most of your shoes. Alternatively, you may check the toe box by stepping on the insole of the shoe. If your toes or feet protrude over the edge, it’s not the proper kind of toe box for you.
The arch is the curve along the bottom of your foot. It provides support and shock absorption for the foot. The majority of running shoes on the market today are neutral shoes, which means they lack arch support. If your feet aren’t getting enough support from your neutral running shoes, you may want to look for running shoes that fit your arch type more comfortably. There are three types of arch:
You have a regular arch if the center of your arch is around half full. Under normal stress, your arch automatically pronates or rolls inward. If you have normal arch feet, look for running shoes with firm midsoles and straight to semi-curved sole shape and footprint.
A flat arch is characterized by a full footprint. When you walk or run, your foot is likely to slide inward. Your low arches may lead to muscular strain and joint issues. For flat arch feet, look for running shoes with a straight last and motion control walking shoes.
If you have a high arch, the space in the middle of your foot will be very visible when you stand on it. This type of foot does not pronate as much as other types when you walk or run. High arches are often associated with plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, and other foot problems. For high arch feet, look for running shoes with a semi-curved last and cushioning in the forefoot area.
Have wide feet? Here are the 7 Best Running Shoes For Wide Feet.
There are two ways to determine your arch type: the wet test and the tape test.
The wet test is the most accurate way to determine your arch type. To do this, wet your feet and then stand on a piece of dark construction paper. The wet footprints you leave behind will show your arch type.
- If you have a high arch, the footprint will show a very narrow band connecting the heel and the ball of the foot.
- A low arch will show a footprint that has a very wide band connecting the heel and the ball of the foot.
- If you have a normal arch, the footprint will show a medium-sized band connecting the heel and the ball of the foot.
The tape test is another way to determine your arch type. To do this, place a strip of masking or painter’s tape across the middle of your foot at the point where it touches the ground. Then, step on a piece of construction paper or a white towel. The shape of the tape on your foot will show your arch type.
- If you have a high arch, the tape will make a very thin line on the paper or towel.
- A low arch will leave a very wide line on the paper or towel.
- If you have a normal arch, the tape will make a medium-sized line on the paper or towel.
Cushioning is the softness of a shoe’s midsole, which is the layer between the outsole and the insole. Shoe cushioning works by absorbing the impact of your foot striking the ground and slowly releasing the energy to return to its original shape.
There are three main types of shoe cushioning:
Air cushioning is created by a chamber of air in the midsole. The chamber is usually made of polyurethane (PU) or ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). It is lightweight and provides good shock absorption.
Gel cushioning is created by a chamber of gel in the midsole. The gel is usually made of silicone, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), or polyurethane. It has heavier than air cushioning but provides better shock absorption.
Foam cushioning is created by a layer of foam in the midsole. The foam is usually made of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyurethane. Although it has the heaviest type of cushioning, it provides the best shock absorption.
Your running shoes should fit snugly but not tightly, and there should be about a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. This will avoid the repetitive motion of your toe hitting the toe box to prevent sore toes.
The longer you run, the more your blood flow rises so that your muscles can get the oxygen they need. Hence, the muscles briefly enlarge. When this happens, your feet will seem swollen, but they aren’t. This is known as venous insufficiency. It is caused by repeated running that injures the microscopic capillaries that transport oxygen to our extremities, causing fluid buildup and swelling.
There are several things you can do to prevent or reduce foot swelling when you run first thing you can do is to make sure you are wearing the right shoes. Also, make sure to wear socks that are not too tight. Socks that are too tight can also constrict your blood vessels.
When trying on shoes, wear the same type of socks or hosiery that you would wear when running. And be sure to walk or run around in the shoes before you buy them to make sure they’re comfortable.
A running shoe should be comfortable from the start. But if it requires breaking in, then you should do it gradually to prevent injury.
The width of the shoe is also important. If a shoe is too narrow, it will pinch your foot and cause blisters. If it’s too wide, your foot will slide around inside the shoe and you’ll get blisters and calluses.
To make sure you’re getting the right fit, always have your feet measured before you buy running shoes. And be sure to try on both shoes and walk or run around in them before you make your purchase.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when choosing running shoes. The sales staff at running stores are usually familiar with the different types of shoes and can help you find a pair that’s right for you.
The average pair of running shoes will last between 300 and 500 miles, so it’s important to keep track of how many miles you’ve put on them. If you’re a regular runner, you should replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles, or every six months, whichever comes first.
You can also tell it’s time for new shoes if the treads are worn down, the midsoles are compressed, or the uppers are torn or frayed.
If you have any pain in your feet, ankles, knees, or hips while running, it could be a sign that your shoes are worn out and need to be replaced.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the wear patterns on your shoes. If you see any uneven wear, it could be a sign that your shoes are you have any pain in your feet, ankles, knees, or hips while running, it could be a sign that your shoes are worn out and need to be replaced.
Now that you know what to consider when buying new running shoes, it’s time to choose the perfect pair for you. Consider the type of gait, surface, foot shape, and heel drop that best fit your needs and preferences. Remember, comfortable shoes are the key to a successful run. So take your time to find a pair that works for you.