Things You Should Look For In A Running Shoe
It’s like datingbut to find the perfect sneaker!
This article was written by Jenna Bergen Southerland and repurposed with permission fromPrevention.
Yeah, you could run in those cute walking shoes or older-than-dirt trainers, but please don’t. “When you run, you hit the ground with force greater than two times your own body weight,” says Jeff Dengate, shoes and gear editor at Runner’s World. “Running shoes are built with higher-quality, lightweight materials that help lessen that impact.”
While a good pair can easily set you back $100-plus, making the investment now could save you a boatload later in potential doctors and PT bills. Find our top picks of the year, and be sure your new pair meets the following criteria:
1.Plenty of Toe LengthFeet swell when you run, so aim for a thumbnail-length of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Dont be surprised if you wind up in a half or full size larger than your street shoes.
2.Enough Toe WidthSquished-in toes equal blisters. Make sure there’s some wiggle room in the toe box.
3.No SeamsLook for a seamless upper that comfortably hugs the top of your foot.
4.Has the Right ArchThe arch should contour to the shape of your foot. You may need to add an insert for a more customized fit.
5. Holds Your HeelMake sure your heel stays in place before buying. Find out with a quick jog around the store .
7. Flexes RightCheck the shoe’s flex point . It should bend at the same place as your foot to ensure a natural stride.
How To Determine Your Pronation Level
Your running gait and level of pronation should be evaluated before purchasing your first pair of running shoes. Your local running store can conduct a simple treadmill test where they will observe your running gait and make recommendations, or you can do one of the following tests:
Pronation Analysis Using Your Smartphone Camera
Have someone record you on video while you are running at a comfortable pace on a treadmill. Have them take video footage from the rear and the front and then use a mobile app like Hudl to slow the video down so you can observe your natural foot strike while running. The Hudl app is free from the Android or Apple App Store.
Pronation Analysis Using The Wear Test
The easiest way to determine your level of pronation is to look at a pair of running shoes you already have some distance on. As you look at the bottom of your running shoes, you should see a wear pattern if the shoes are old enough.
Consider How You Are Going To Run
Running shoes are a little like cars. Some are lightweight, small and nible and meant for speed. Some are larger, heavier and are made for comfort.
When choosing a running shoe, think about how you are going to train in them. Are they for your day to day training, for your slow or moderate paced runs? Or are they the shoes youll use in a race or for the days of fast training?
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Determining Your Foot Type
Take a look at the bottom of your running shoe. The wear on your shoe will likely reveal your foot type.
- If your shoe shows even wear, you have a neutral arch and are a normal pronator.
- If the inner soles of your shoes are usually worn down, you are an overpronator and probably have a low arch.
- If your shoe wear shows excessive wear on the outer soles, you are an underpronator and probably have a high arch.
Review: New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo V5
New Balance struck gold when it came to the New Balance 1080v11 and how awesome it is to run in. Thats why I was so excited to try out their new and improved stability counterpart. The New Balance Vongo v5.
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Energy consumption can be very important during running. Read the article concerning the importance of carbohydrates here.
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How Much Cushion Do You Want To Feel
The ride provided by your shoes is determined by two aspects of cushioning: the firmness of the foam and the thickness of the shoe material between your feet and the ground. This material in the midsole is usually a type of foam, typically EVA or polyurethane, that helps absorb the impacts as your feet strike the ground. From maximally cushioned midsoles to ones with no cushion, how thick or firm the midsoles below your feet is a matter of personal preference. Some runners want a plush, soft ride for extra comfort. Others dont want or need that much cushioning, preferring more response from each stride. The best way to decide is to try on a variety of shoes and see how they feel.
Here are your choices when it comes to cushioning:
- Maximum cushion: These maximalist shoes offer thick padding in the midsoles for the ultimate plush feel. Runners may prefer the comfort of thicker, softer foam underfoot when running long distances or multiday races. But super-soft cushioning isnt for everyone. Some dont like the squishiness feel. Further reading:
Not All Feat Are Created Equal
Your right and left feet are of slightly different shapes and sizes, with oneusually the dominant onelarger than the other.
This is the reason you need to have both of your feet measured.
Foot size changes over time and one model can be significantly different from another, so go by what feels most comfortable, not by your standard size.
Id recommend that you measure your feet for length and width at least twice a year, or whenever trying new running shoes.
You should also do this in the evening as feet tend to swell after prolonged sitting or standing.
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Foot Type & Pronation
There are three different foot types: neutral arch, low arch, and high arch. The height of your arch affects the direction and severity of the way your foot rolls or pronates. Here are the three types and how they most likely roll:
- Neutralarch typically causes the foot to roll to a healthy spot.
- Lowarch typically causes the foot to roll excessively inward, or overpronate.
- Higharch typically causes the foot to roll in only slightly at impact, or underpronate.
Where To Go From Here: Starting The Search For Your Best Road Running Shoes
With this all in mind, it can still be tricky to narrow your choices down to just a few pairs you that will suit your needs. If youre still feeling unsure as to what your best shoe looks like, head over to our shoe finder here, answer a few questions and see what results you find for your next new pair. Weve also highlighted some of our road running fan favorites and most popular models below is your next pair one of these?
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Types Of Running Shoes
There are three general categories of running shoes. Before you assess the individual features of a shoe, think about what your running goals are and how your foot is designed. What kind of support do you need from a running shoe?
Stability shoes. These shoes are best if you have an average arch with only minor control problems. They offer your heel added stability and the ball of your foot added flexibility.
Motion control shoe. If you have flat feet, these shoes are your best option. When you have flat feet, you tend to roll your feet inward more significantly than is normal. Motion control shoes help you maintain correct pronation during a run. They usually have more rigid plastic or fiberglass lining and high-density foam.
Cushioning shoes. High arches need the added support offered with cushioning shoes. These shoes also help if you tend to roll your feet outward more than is normal, which is common among people with high arches. They are lightweight and not as rigid as other shoes.
What Is The Best Shoe For Fitness Enthusiasts
Whether its in a newly constructed home gym, streaming fitness instructors, the local park, or in person taking spaced classes at Orangetheory or Barrys, a properly fit running shoe is going to provide you with the most comfort and the best fit. We often choose lighter weight, firmer, and shoes with lower offset to adjust for the different range of dynamic motion in those activities.
Theres a reason people call running shoes trainers in the UK theyre ideal for almost any kind of training youre doing!
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Consider Your Foot Strike
Most people land on their heel while running, while some people land more on the midfoot or forefoot.
There is not a sinlge best way I am actually a supporter of the fact that any landing works as long as it works for you.
What is important though is to be aware of this and to pick a running shoe that works for that particular gait.
One of the easiest indicator of this is the heel to toe drop, also known as offset or just drop, which is the difference in height, in millimiters, between the heel of the shoe and the toe.
Traditional running shoes, have a drop of 10-12mm and are more indicated for people who land on their heel. Other shoes have drops between 5 and 8mm and work well for a midfoot landing. There are then low-drop shoes, or even zero-drop shoes that are meant for runners who land on their toes.
Choosing The Perfect Shoe
Now that you know what type of foot you have and what type of shoe you should be looking for, you’re ready to find your perfect shoe.
If you shop at a quality running store, the employees often have extensive knowledge about shoes and can help you select a pair that supports your foot type. When you try on shoes, remember these five tips:
Replace your running shoes every 400 to 600 miles, because the shock absorption depletes with every passing mile. You shouldnt be able to see the white midsole material peeking through the outsole and the sole under your heel should not appear crushed.
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Neutral Vs Stability Running Shoes
Many running-shoe companies divide their shoes into two main categories: neutral and stability shoes. A neutral shoe wont affect your normal gait, but it will provide you with added support and cushion to protect your feet from the ground. Stability shoes, on the other hand, have denser foam along the arch of the foot. They may also have a stiffer heel, which reduces the foots side-to-side movement.
Everyones feet naturally pronate or supinate during each running stride. Pronation allows your foot to adapt to the landing surface, and supination propels you forward, according to podiatrist Paul Langer and physical therapist Jolan Browne. Both pronation and supination are biomechanically necessary for running . Running-shoe companies make two kinds of shoesstability and neutralbecause of the long-held idea that some peoples feet roll in too far and need correction. This is called overpronation, and it may contribute to pain in the feet, ankles, and knees.
Even if you do overpronate, the scientific jury is still out on whether shoes can actually reduce the risk of injury . Running shoes dont, and cant, prevent injuries, per se, said Colleen Brough, director of the Columbia Run Lab.
Pronation allows your foot to adapt to the landing surface, and supination propels you forward.
How We Picked And Tested
Our initial list included nearly 90 pairs of running shoes, so we asked our experts for intel on what people shop for and what runners need. Then we cross-referenced their suggested shoes with reviews from Runners World, Running Shoes Guru, Podium Runner, Womens Running, and RunRepeat, as well as with customer reviews.
We looked for shoes described as being both cushioned and responsive . Often these two criteria are at odds with each other: Extra cushioning is likely to absorb the impact of each running stride, rather than give you much rebound. Shoes that promised both features caught our attention. In general, we favored lightweight models, though our experts pointed out that shoes are getting lighter and lighter across the board. We also considered heel-to-toe drop . Traditionally, most running shoes have a sole thats 10 mm to 12 mm thicker at the heel than at the forefoot. Most of the shoes we kept on the list fit that description. But because some runners prefer less heel cushioning and a flatter sole, we made sure to retain a few options with lower and no heel-to-toe drop, too. Price also matters, so we capped our recommendations at $150pay any more than that, and youre getting into shoes meant for niche purposes.
We also skipped shoes that touted specialized features because we werent looking to recommend shoes for more-specialized users or uses .
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Most Common Types Of Running Shoes
With these things in mind, here are some details about the most common types of support and cushioning available in running shoes:
Neutral Running Shoes
Neutral runners evenly distribute weight down the center of the shoe and tend to have medium-height arches.
If you find that the wear pattern on your old shoes is centralized on the ball of the foot and heel, you may want to look into shoes with neutral support. These shoes do not include the added support of stability shoes, instead neutral shoes focus on absorbing shock to help you put on miles comfortably.
How Stability Running Shoes Work
For a long time, the running industry marketed stability running shoes as a way to correct overpronation. Most typical stability shoes used a medial posta firmer piece of foam or plastic under the archto create the stable feeling.
But times have changed.
While some modern stability running shoes still use a medial post, others now employ different technologies to create the stable ride youre after. Even the way we think about stability shoes is different now: Rather than trying to correct overpronation, running shoes built for stability create a stable platform over the life of the shoe.
Runners who overpronate spend more time on the instep of their shoe, also called the medial side. As their feet roll naturally inward, they compress the foam more under the instep and less on the outside .
The uneven compression leads to uneven shoes over time. If you set a pair of old running shoes on a table in front of you and look at them from behind, you would eventually see the shoes sloping inward toward each other.
Stability running shoes work to prevent that from happening. Firmer foams or plastic inserts compress less than their softer counterparts, so adding them to the spot that wears out the fastest can help the shoe wear evenly and last longer.
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Mild To Moderate Stability
To stabilize your gait, prevent your ankles from either leaning out or collapsing inward, look for stabilizing shoes. Theyre designed to limit the side-to-side movement as your foot moves through the strike and toe-off phase of each stride. They use varied densities of foam or pods of gel within the midsole positioned to distribute the impact of each step and limit the amount your foot rolls as it strikes and then pushes off the ground.
Each runner is different, so there really is no rule for selecting a stabilizing shoe. Mild stability is generally appropriate for runners whose feet roll slightly more than 15 degrees from the midline. Moderate stability might be useful if your feet roll considerably more than 15 degrees. Read more about gait analysis for runners and using MECs in-store Run Lab to help you find the right shoes.
Make Sure You Have Extra Room For Your Toes
It’s important to have enough space to run in your running shoes – you don’t want them to be too small and cause pain. Make sure to get shoes that are at least one third bigger than your usual size.
If the shoe is too narrow, you’ll feel the base of your little toe rubbing against the shoe. If it’s too wide, your foot will slide forward and you’ll feel pressure on top of your toes.
The midsole of the shoe should cushion your foot as you run and there should be minimal space between your toes and the end of the shoe. If there’s a lot of extra room in the toe , then the shoes are likely too big for you. Conversely, if your toes are cramped up in the front of the shoe, then they’re likely too small.
The right pair of shoes will give you a bit of wiggle room.
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Finding The Right Running Shoe
To find the best running shoe for you, you need to know your foot type and what type of shoe best supports your arch and running style. The right shoe may prevent injury and promote performance.
When you run, you naturally land on the outside of your foot and roll inward. This inward rolling is called pronation.