How To Choose The Right Running Shoe For You
Finding a running shoe that you will be happy with is important. When matched with the right runner, running shoes help protect your feet and may prevent running injuries.
Choosing the right running shoe model for you requires knowledge of your running style and gait and then matching that information with the right shoe technology and style. With so many shoe options in the market, picking out the best running shoe for you can feel overwhelming.
But it doesn't have to be.
As we go through this article, we will walk you through identifying your foot anatomy and your running gait so you can pick out the right running shoe for you.
Ultimately, what we are looking for is a pair of shoes that feel great on your feet and perform their duty to help you run better and protect your body from the impact of running.
Step 1: Identify Your Level Of Pronation
The first piece of information you need to know is your level of pronation. In this section, we will help you determine your level of pronation. Once you have identified your level of pronation, write it down. We will need it for later when we get ready to pick out which model is best for you.
What is Pronation?
Pronation is the natural movement your foot makes when your foot lands on the ground and your arch naturally collapses to absorb the impact. As your foot lands, your foot should land from the outside edge of your heel and rotate in towards the ball of your foot in a natural, even motion.
Pronation is not bad. Pronation is actually a good thing because it is one of the ways our body absorbs the impact from running and the right level of pronation helps us push off more efficiently while running.
Runners who have the right level of arch collapse are classified as normal pronators.
Normal pronation is when your arch collapses at just the right amount to absorb impact.
Runners who have too much arch collapse have overpronation.
Overpronation is when your foot rolls too much towards the inside of your foot leading to poor absorption of impact.
Runners with too little arch collapse are known to supinate or have too much underpronation.
Underpronation (also known as supination) is when your foot rolls too much towards the outside.
How To Determine Your Pronation Level
Your running gait and level of pronation should be evaluated before purchasing your first pair of running shoes. Your local running store can conduct a simple treadmill test where they will observe your running gait and make recommendations, or you can do one of the following tests:
Pronation Analysis Using Your Smartphone Camera
Simply have someone record you on video while you are running at a comfortable pace on a treadmill. Have them take video footage from the rear and from the front and then use a mobile app like Hudl to slow the video down so you can observe your natural foot strike while running. The Hudl app is free from the Android or Apple App Store.
Pronation Analysis Using The Wear Test
The easiest way to determine your level of pronation is to look at a pair of running shoes you already have some distance on. As you look at the bottom of your running shoes, you should be able to see a wear pattern if the shoes are old enough.
Step 2: Identify Your Arch Type
The height of your arch determines the amount of support your feet may need and can contribute to pronation, overpronation, and supination when running. High arches or flat feet may need additional arch support provided by the running shoe or through using custom orthotics.
The Wet Test
The best way to identify your arch type is to perform a wet test. Simply wet both feet in a pan of water and step on a piece of paper. A brown paper bag or a piece of cardboard works great. Once you step off, observe your imprint pattern and match it against our chart.
There is a demonstration of the wet test in the video in Step 1 of this article.
Step 3: Identify Your Preferred Level Of Cushioning
Cushioning will be one of the most important factors to consider when choosing the right running shoe. The shoe's level of cushioning will dictate your comfort level, the amount of shock absorption, and shoe mileage.
Most running shoe models fall into a range of minimum to maximum. Shoe manufacturer will often use the level of cushioning as a selling point for a particular model.
Maximum cushioned shoes offer the highest level of shock absorption. They work best for runners who want the highest degree of comfort. They are also recommended for runners who have larger frames or weight.
Minimally cushioned offers a thin layer of protection underfoot but allows the ground surface to be felt by the runner. These work best for strengthening the feet during training but usually require a much longer adaptation period.
Step 4: Choose The Best Running Shoe For You
Now that you have identified your level of pronation, your arch style and your preferred level of cushioning, you are now ready to choose the best model of running shoe.
While many runners like to choose a running shoe by brand loyalty or based on feedback from others, the reality is you should choose running shoes based on what particular problem a shoe model is solving or one that compliments your unique anatomy and gait.
Next, find two or three models that match your running style and then try them out against each other. If all else is equal, select the shoe based on which one feels best.
Neutral running shoes are for runners who are normal pronators and underpronators.
Neutral running shoes do not offer any motion control. Instead, they allow your foot to move naturally.
Underpronators or those with high arches need a neutral running shoe with special features.
The most important feature for high arches is adding more cushioning. For underpronators, choose a neutral shoe that has more flexible upper and midsole to encourage pronation.
Stability shoes are for mild to moderate overpronators.
Stability shoes come with varying levels of arch support or cushioning depending on the model and are designed to correct overpronation.
Stability shoes are not as heavy or stiff as motion control shoes since their main focus is to not control overpronation completely.
Motion controlled running shoes are for heavy to extreme overpronators.
This type of shoe includes a more structured platform to keep the foot from excessively overpronating or rolling inward.
Because of their need to guide the foot, motion control shoes are often heavier and often have a stiffer feel to them.
Running Shoe Finder
Our Running Shoe Finder will help you pick the best running shoe for you. The following information comes directly from the manufacturer websites and has been organized so you can easily compare the most popular brands and models. This information is designed to help you narrow down and select a recommended running shoe but the only way to know for sure is to try a shoe out. No one, not even a running store, can guarantee that a shoe will work for you or prevent injury. In reality, the shoe is rarely the problem. Almost all running injuries are caused by inadequate training load and changing training volume or intensity too quickly. That is why we recommend our training programs and coaching, so you can match the right level of training with your unique experience level and goals.
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Best Neutral Running Shoes For Men
Select these shoes if you:
Best Neutral Running Shoes For Women
These shoes are ideal for women who want a high degree of cushioning and who have a moderate to high arch
Select these shoes if you:
Best Stability Running Shoes For Men
Best Stability Running Shoes For Women
Best Motion Control Running Shoes For Men
Best Motion Control Running Shoes For Women
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