Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How To Choose The Perfect Pair Of Running Shoes For You

One of the first purchases new runners typically make are running shoes.  It’s a pivotal moment where you go from thinking about running to actually taking the steps to do it.  That being said, not just any old running shoes will do.  To train successfully, without injury or pain, it’s important to choose the right shoes for your feet and running style.

There are four main types of running shoes.  Each is designed for a different type of running.  They include:

* Motion-control shoes
* Stability shoes
* Cushioned shoes
* Lightweight training shoes

Motion-control shoes are rigid shoes designed to offer maximum stability.  They’re a good shoe if you have flat feet, are on the heavy side, or tend to run on the inside of your feet. 

A pair of ASICS stability running shoes, model...
A pair of ASICS stability running shoes, model GEL-Kinsei (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Stability shoes offer a blend of support and cushioning.  They offer support on the inside of the shoe and are designed for normal weight people who don’t need a lot of motion control.

Cushioned shoes offer the least support along the inside of the shoe; however, as the name implies, they offer the most cushioning.  If you run on the outside of your feet, underpronate, or have high arches then these may be the right shoes for you.

Lightweight training shoes are designed for experienced long distance runners.  If you’re just getting into running these won’t be for you – yet.

So which shoe is right for you?

Shoes are designed to place your foot in the optimal running position.  This means your foot is neutral, hitting the ground without rolling to the outside or the inside of your foot, also known as overpronating and underpronating.  The better your foot positioning, the less likely you are to experience injuries, the better you’ll feel, and the longer you’ll be able to run.  Improper foot positioning can cause joint injuries, muscle strains and sprains, and blisters. 

There are essentially three foot types which often dictate your foot position when you run.  Take a look at your foot.  Do you have a flat foot or very little arch?  Do you have a normal arch or a high arch?  If you’re unsure, one way to find out is to take a look at the soles of the shoes you wear the most.  Where do you see the most wear?

If you have a low arch, chances are you’re going to find the most wear along the inside edge of your shoe from your heel to your toes.  This is because the arch isn’t there to keep your foot stable and you’ll roll to the inside when you run.  The best shoe for a flat-footed person would be motion control or stability shoes.

Normal feet typically do best in a stability shoe.  Your shoes will show wear on the outer edge of the heel, under the ball of your foot, and at the front of your sole. 

Finally, if you have a high arch then your foot is likely underpronating meaning you’re arch is so high it is almost pushing your foot outward.  This will be demonstrated by wear and tear on the outside edge of your shoe.  The best shoe for you will likely be a cushioned shoe to give your foot a bit more motion.

Knowing your foot type is a great start to finding the right running shoe for you.  If you can find a shoe store that will give you a personal gait analysis, they’ll watch you run and then be able to tell you the best shoe options, which is ideal.  However, in lieu of a gait analysis, a little time spent trying on a variety of shoes designed for your foot type will help you to find the right shoe to run in without injury.

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