Running requires very little investment in equipment. Despite there being many different and fancy types of running apparel on the market, a simple pair of shorts and a t-shirt will do just as well as something more expensive. You should invest wisely in one kind of running equipment, though. Your shoes.
There's a reason for the astonishing array of running shoes on the market. To the untrained eye, it looks like they simply come in a variety of styles and colors. In fact, each running shoe is designed to suit a particular type of runner and foot shape. Choose the wrong shoe and you will not only find running uncomfortable, but you may also do some damage or aggravate an injury.
Make sure you avoid this common issue by learning how to find the right running shoe for you.
Let’s Start With Your Foot Type
The arch of your foot determines several things, including how you walk and run. There are three types of foot arch:
- Low arch
- Mid arch
- High arch
To find out your arch type, wet the sole of your foot and step on something absorbent like a paper bag. Your footprint will show how your arch falls:
- A very clear print of most of the foot from the heel to toe indicates a low arch
- A print with a curve along the inside of your foot indicates a mid arch
- A very thin band or even no band at all that connects the heel and toe indicates a high arch
Your Arch Type Determines Pronation
Pronation is how the foot falls when you run. A neutral foot strike is when the foot hits the ground with the outside of the heel then travels evenly up to the ball of the foot. Your arch type will tend to make you over or under pronate.
- Overpronation: This is rolling too much on the inside of your foot throughout your foot strike. It’s typical of low arch or flat-footed types.
- Underpronation: This means rolling too much on the outside of your foot during your foot strike. This is typical of high arch types.
Learn Your Running Gait
Gait is how your feet move and behave when you run. Both your arch type and pronation affect your running gait. Understanding what type of gait you have is key to choosing the correct running shoes for your needs.
There are four main types of gait:
- Severe overpronation: This is when your foot rolls excessively inward. It means your ankle is unable to create the stability necessary for the body. Those with very low arches or flat feet will find they have a tendency to overpronate. If you fit into this category, the best running shoe for you is a motion control shoe.
- Mild overpronation: Your ankle has more ability to stabilize the body. Therefore, the overpronation is not as severe. Foot types affected are low to medium arch. If you fit into this category, you need a stability shoe.
- Neutral pronation: The foot strikes evenly from heel to ball. Neutral pronators have a medium arch type. If you fall into this category, a neutral cushioned shoe is correct for you.
- Underpronation: Those with high arches will remain on the outside of their foot during running. If you fall into this category, you also need a neutral cushioned shoe.
The Different Shoe Types
Now you understand which type of shoe fits your needs, you need to find one in the stores. But how do you recognize each shoe type?
- Motion-control shoes are straight and wide. Inside the shoe, they have dense foam cushioning that runs from the beginning of the arch area all the way to the back of the heel.
- Stability shoes have a semi curve shape to them. They also have cushioning but only on the arch area.
- Neutral cushion shoes have a full curve and no cushioning inside.
In the Store
If you're unsure of your arch type or gait, a lot of running stores have a machine that will measure this for you. The store attendants should have specialized knowledge that allows them to make the correct shoe recommendations for your needs.
- It’s not about brand or style. You’re looking for the shoe that feels the most comfortable.
- Measure both feet. Take a size based on the largest foot.
- Wear proper running socks when having your shoes fitted.
- Ensure you have a thumbs width between the big toe and the end of the shoe.
- Run around the store or on a treadmill to test them properly.
- Ensure the shoe is wide enough to be comfortable.
Using this information will not only ensure you choose the correct running shoe for your needs, but it'll also make the shopping experience far easier to manage.