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Guide to Running Shoes

Jul/23/2023 / by Melanie Fourie

Make the most of your daily jog with the right pair

Woman's lower legs wearing pink and purple running shoes outdoors
Photo via Shutterstock

Whether you run on the road, on a treadmill, or on a trail, an appropriate pair of running shoes is critical to avoid damage to your feet, toes, ankles, and heels.

So if you’re looking for your first (or next) pair of running shoes, look for specific features that are right for your feet shape, injuries, and terrain.

Here is our detailed guide explaining what to look for in running shoes.

Aim for Flexible

When your shoe is flexible, your foot may follow its normal motion pattern regardless of the surface you’re on. Running with flexible running shoes allows your brain to concentrate on balancing and pushing your body as you go through the terrain since your feet don’t have to make adaptations for the variables of a shoe. A running shoe with a wide range of motion will provide you with more precision and responsiveness in your stride.

Seek Superior Cushioning

The capacity of running shoes to protect the runner’s foot from impact is known as cushioning. Heel-strike running shoes are built with extra cushioning at the back of the shoe to prevent injury. However, if the shoe has too much padding, it might seem unstable and imprecise. How your shoes really feel depends entirely on your preferences.

Choose According to Your Running Surface

Not all running surfaces are created equal, so you’ll need different shoes for each type. Here’s how to select the correct running shoe for various surfaces.

Road Running

Shoes made specifically for road running are built to resist the pounding of constant footfalls on solid, smooth surfaces. They’re made to be comfy, light, and adaptable to the constant flexing of your foot.

Treadmill Running 

Low-profile, light running shoes with a durable outsole are ideal for hitting the treadmill. You can get the most out of your treadmill workout and keep your balance with this footwear. Popular running shoe manufacturers like New Balance, Nike, or PUMA provide a broad variety of high-quality models that are adapted to the treadmill and suitable for runners of varying foot shapes and walks.

Trail Running

Trail running shoes are built to endure the rigors of off-road running by protecting the runner’s feet from things like stones, rough terrain, and mud. In addition to providing enhanced stability and support underfoot, their robust tread design boosts grip.

Buy According to Your Foot Shape

When you run, your foot naturally rolls inward as it moves from the heel strike to the toe part of the gait cycle. This rolling behavior is called pronation. Knowing what type of pronation you have can be valuable, as it enables shoe store assistants to point you in the right direction. The different types of pronation are as follows:

High Arches or Underpronation 

Underpronators have higher arches. Since the outermost heel is striking the ground at a more acute angle, a lot of the impact will be transferred to your lower leg. As a result, there is an insufficient inward roll of the foot. If the soles of your current running shoes seem excessively worn on the outside edges, you probably have underpronation.

Neutral Pronation

This is also called normal pronation. A neutral shoe, designed to provide equal parts stability and comfort, may be best if your foot typically falls on the outside edge of the heel and rolls inward to alleviate stress. Finding out if you have neutral feet might be as simple as looking at your running shoes. Neither the inside nor outside of the sole should show signs of severe wear.

Flat Feet

Overpronation is characteristic of flat feet. This causes the kneecap to deviate from its normal position on the femur and shift to the outside. Overpronators tend to have flat feet from the get-go. Yet, gestation and obesity may also cause this problem. Check out your previous pair of athletic footwear. You are probably an overpronator if there is a lot of abrasion on the inside of the sole.

Additional Tips When Buying Running Shoes

When road running in hot and arid climates, it’s important to wear shoes that allow air to circulate freely through the sole, so choose breathable running shoes.

The diameter of your foot will tell you if you need shoes with a broad or narrow width. Runners who have broad feet should either buy a larger size or seek broad-width options in-store.

The length of your foot is the most important factor in selecting the right shoe. To determine your foot’s size, just trace it on some paper beforehand.

You’ll have better command of foot strike if your shoes fit snugly and precisely, but they shouldn’t be too tight either, so try on a few sizes before deciding.

Less effort is needed to move a lighter shoe through a full stride. To avoid fatigue and unnecessary strain, choose the lightest shoe that provides the necessary support and comfort.

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