Thursday, August 2, 2012

Choosing the Right Running Shoes

The right shoes can make the difference between running joy and running pain. Your feet bear the brunt of the impact when you run. The right shoes help ensure your foot hits or strikes the ground in the most optimal way. If your foot rolls to the inside or outside then you may feel stress in your shins, ankles, knees, hips and even your back and neck. Keep an eye out for these issues to make sure you choose the right shoes for your feet and gait.

English: Grown male right foot (angle 1)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Are You Over Or Underpronating?

When you run, there are three things that commonly happen when your foot hits the ground. It may hit directly on track. It may roll to the outside, also called overpronating. Or it may roll to the inside, also called underpronating.

It’s important to know how your foot strikes the ground when you run. This information will help you choose the right shoes. There are a few ways you can tell.

1. Look at the bottom of your running shoes. Where are your running shoes most worn? Are they thinning on the outside or inside of the shoe? If so, then your foot may be rolling in that direction when you run.

2. Take the wet foot test. Wet your bare foot and stand on a piece of paper. Look at the shape of your foot. Flat feet tend to overpronate. High arches tend to underpronate.

3. Get a gait analysis. Many specialty running shoe stores offer what’s called a gait analysis or a running analysis. They videotape your feet as you run on a treadmill for a minute or two. They then look at your foot strike and running motion and can make instant recommendations about the best shoes for your mechanics. This is often the best way to find the right shoe right away and may eliminate the trial and error shoe buying process, which can get expensive.

Three Types of Shoes
There are essentially three different types of running shoes (we’re not talking about minimalist or barefoot shoes in this article - we'll cover those in a future post). They include:

* Cushioning
* Stability
* Motion Control

Generally, certain foot types and foot striking motions will fall into a specific shoe type. Let’s start with Motion Control

Motion Control shoes are rigid and prevent a person’s foot from rolling around. These shoes are generally recommended for people with low arches, flat feet, or overpronation.

A pair of ASICS stability running shoes, model...
A pair of ASICS stability running shoes, model GEL-Kinsei (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Stability shoes have some motion control elements and some cushioning elements. They’re generally lighter shoes and are designed to support a person’s existing running motion without altering it. They’re generally recommended for people with normal arches and an even foot strike.

Cushioning shoes as you might suspect offer an abundance of cushioning. They’re recommended for people with high arches in their feet. If you have a high arch then you’re likely running a bit on the outside of your foot. This impact can cause problems up your leg. The extra cushioning in this type of shoe can reduce or eliminate those problems.

Finding the right shoes makes a big difference in your running success. They can help you run further and faster without the pain. Take the time to shop around. You’ll be glad you did.

Examples of the 3 Types of Running Shoes:
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