When choosing a pair of running shoes, you need to make sure the shoes meet your specific requirements. General recommendations from friends, colleagues, brands, or shoe sellers may not cover what you need in a pair of running shoes. While the shoes might fit you perfectly and feel comfortable, you only get to know their true worth after running in them. This is why it’s important to choose wisely.
Before choosing running shoes, you need to consider your running style and the type of running you do. You also need to know the shoe category that suits your needs.
What Type of Runner Are You?
To know the type of runner you are, an examination of the wear pattern on the soles of your running shoes will reveal how you run. If the pattern of wear is centralized to the ball of the foot and a small segment of the heel, that is neutral pronation. Neutral pronation absorbs the impact of landing, reducing pressure on the joints and knees.
If you find wear patterns forming along the inside edge of the sole, that is overpronation. Overpronation increases the chances of knee pain and injury. People who are overpronators should buy motion control or stability shoes.
If the wear is found along your shoe's outer edge, this is called supination. It is caused by reduction of landing impact due to the foot rolling outwards. If you are a supinator, you will need running shoes with enhanced flexibility and cushioning.
When choosing a running shoe, one of the most important things is to do is the wet foot test. Once you've completed the test, examine your foot print and compare it to one of the illustrations in the image above. Which one is your foot type? There are dozens of shoes for every foot type, but it's important to choose a shoe for your own foot type.
Types of Running Shoes
The type of terrain where you run is also important when choosing running shoes.
Road running shoes are ideal for use on paved or packed surfaces. These shoes are flexible, lightweight and offer plenty of cushioning and stability for your feet to protect it from the impact of landing on hard, irregular surfaces.
If you run on off-road surfaces with mud, sharp rocks, debris, plants, and others, go for trail-running shoes. These shoes are sturdy and come with tough, pronounced tread and features that increase traction, stability, support, and protection for your underfoot.
If you use your running shoes for other exercise activities, then go for cross-training shoes. These shoes are designed for CrossFit or gym exercises and other routines where you need more ground contact.
Types of Running Shoes
Depending on the type of runner that you are, the following shoes are the various type of shoes that suit your needs.
Neutral Shoes: These are perfect for neutral runners and people who roll their feet outwards while running, i.e., supinate. These shoes are designed to support the arch-side of the feet and absorb the impact of landing.
Stability Shoes: These are ideal for runners who are overpronators, especially people who slightly or moderately overpronate. The arch side of the midsole is often reinforced to reduce wear and protect the sole.
Motion Control Shoes: For runners that show moderate to severe overpronation, this is the best running shoes. They are designed to prevent overpronation using a stiffer heel.
Barefoot Shoes: These types of shoes offer little to no protection of the underfoot. The heels of most barefoot running shoes do not have any form of cushioning, and the barrier between your leg and the ground can be as small as 3-4mm. If you are wearing this type of shoe, running in off-road conditions can be dangerous, and the impact of running on paved or hard, uneven surfaces can be painful on your knees.
Minimalist Shoes: These shoes are designed to provide as close to the natural running motion as possible. They are lightweight and may not have any arch support for the midsole, but they still have some level of flexibility and cushioning.
Cushioning is essential as it helps absorb the force of impact on landing. If you are a trail runner, buy shoes with enhanced heel cushioning such as carbon rubber. This will help protect your underfoot from injury and reduce the pressure on your knees and joints. However, shoes with blown rubber heels offer more cushioning but cannot withstand the rigors of rugged terrain. That’s why they are used for road-racing shoes due to their lightweight.
Claudia Ortiz, a member of our Running and Race Training Facebook group, asked “Is there any way to address the shoe issue in relation to medical issues in feet such as arthritis, old fractures, fusions (etc…)” - which leads us to the following topic:
High heels, low heels, and flip-flops can aggravate the plight of a person who has arthritis. They stress the arch and ball of the foot, wear down joints, cause pain, and increase the risk of falling among others.
Sandals are great for people who have arthritis in their lower extremities. Look for sandals that are roomy, have multiple straps to adjust the shoe for maximum comfort and fit, and with enhanced support.
If you want to buy shoes, you can buy neutral shoes. Neutral shoes provide excellent cushioning, and shock absorption and their neutral design support inserts and custom-molded orthotics which patients with arthritis often use to manage their condition. Boots can also provide stability and protection for people with ankle arthritis. But make sure you buy low heel boots, rubber-soled wedged heels or flexible hiking boots.
Flats may also be ideal for people with arthritis or fractures that make walking a bit difficult. However, buy flats that offer shock absorption, cushioning, and arch support.
Running with arthritis or an old fracture might prove to be somewhat difficult so I would suggest you start by power-walking with the proper footwear. Over time, slowly increase your speed until you eventually start running - remember, pay attention to your body and reduce speed and distance at the first sign of distress.
Whether you are an amateur or professional runner, getting your running shoes right is one of the most important aspects of becoming great at what you do!
If you have any questions you can leave them below or at our Facebook group and I will answer them as soon as possible.
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