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How To Test Running Shoes

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Foot Type & Pronation

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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.

Why Buy From A Running Store

Running stores are staffed by runners, which means they can provide you valuable feedback from fitting thousands of people, along with their own experiences. And no, they dont care how new you are, slow, fast or long distance, theyre excited to have someone else running.

Also important to note that while they will put you on a treadmill to look at gate, if the shoe the recommend doesnt feel good, dont buy it!

Just because a store offers a gait analysis and then states you need a stability shoe, dont buy the shoe if you find it uncomfortable in your test run.

  • Running store tests look only at the roll of your foot and ankle
  • Stride uses the WHOLE leg, so a recommendation for a stability shoe could be a clue you need to do some hip strengthening and not get a shoe that allows your poor form to continue
  • Consider a stride analysis if you are consistently being recommended a stability or motion control shoe
  • As you can tell Im a fan of fixing whats wrong vs shoes which often lead to injury. This is not to say some dont benefit from them!

Free Shoes For Low Income Families/persons

Im gonna include this here for those who actually cant afford to buy shoes. If youve fallen on hard times , there are a number of churches, local and national charities and organizations that can get you a pair.

All you have to do is contact them.

You can find more by doing a quick google search.

And dont forget to contact your local Salvation Army or Goodwill. They may also have programs that can help.

Note: If you actually can afford to buy your own, please dont use this option. Leave this for the poor and needy families who genuinely cant afford it.

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Benefits Of Lock Lacing

Having problems with heel slip & foot movement whilst running? Try this simple fix – The Lock Lacing technique might be what you need!

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How To Check Your Shoe Fit

How To Check Your Foot Type For Running Shoes  New Running World For Women
A properly fitting running shoe should feel snug in the heel and midfoot, with wiggle room around the toes.
While standing, check for proper length and width by pressing your thumb down next to the ball of your foot and around the toes. A good fit should allow for half to a full thumb’s width of space.
Hold the back of the shoe and try to raise your heel. There should be little to no movement.
Check the eyelet rows on either side of the tongue. These rows should be close to parallel with each other.

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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.

Is Gait Analysis Worth It

Absolutely! Running regularly in the wrong type of shoe with a pronounced gait abnormality will almost certainly lead to more injuries in the long term. A full gait analysis takes about 15 minutes, and its completely free so why take the risk? Pop into your local Runners Need and give yourself peace of mind.

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What Socks Are You Running In

It may sound silly but the thickness of your sock can make a big difference difference to the fit and feel of your shoe, especially as your feet expand in the heat. Always wear the socks you intend to run in when you go for a shoe fitting.

Consider a good, technical running sock specifically designed with added arch support and extra padding across the ball of the foot, toes, and the heel for better impact protection.

Although comfortable we wouldnt recommend wearing cotton socks when running. Cotton retains moisture, add to that the heat and friction from running and youre likely to end up with blisters, calluses, and hot spots.

Always ensure your socks are higher than the back of your running shoes otherwise they’ll slip down during your run causing friction hot spots on the back of your heel.

Determining Your Foot Type

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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.

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What Level Of Cushioning Do You Need

Cushioning is about how much you want to feel the ground while you run. Some runners opt for barefoot minimalist options as this allows them to feel connected to the road and be more responsive. On the opposite side of the spectrum, maximum cushioning is often described as running on clouds. Thick cushioning does absorb the impact of the terrain better. However, some runners dislike the feeling of rebound provided by the shock absorbing foam. Here, its all a matter of personal preference, both for road and trail runners.

Checking For The Proper Shoe Fit

Wear your running socks when you go shopping. Different socks can change the fit of the shoes. If you are wearing thicker socks, it may make your shoes fit tighter. You want to make sure you wear the socks that you plan to run in. Pick several different brand and shoe options to try on. Dont go shoe shopping in the morning. Go shoe shopping later in the day or afternoon, when youve been on your feet for a while. Your feet swell throughout the day. Going later in the day will give you the best idea of how your shoes should fit. If you dont want to try on every shoe, heres a neat tip: take the insert out of the shoe and stand on it. Then, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your foot fit?
  • Is the insert too wide or too narrow?
  • Does your heel hang over?
  • Are your toes brushing the edge?

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How Speciality Running Stores Can Help

Specialty running stores can analyze gait and running style. At no additional charge, the staff at the running store will likely get you on a treadmill to observe, first-hand, how you run. They will video you while you walk and run barefoot. The goal is to see what your feet and ankles do mid-stance. Theres no one size fits all shoe. Youre unique and especially so are your feet. Body type must also be taken into account, because a big person will likely require different shoes than a skinny person.

The good news is that there are running shoes out there for every body type and running style. Having your gait and foot type analyzed by an expert sales person at the running shoe store will help you get a shoe with the feel, fit, cushion, and support required to help you run injury free.

Where Do You Plan To Run

Running Shoe Fit Test

Road-running shoes are designed for pavement and occasional forays onto packed surfaces with slight irregularities.

  • Light and flexible, they’re made to cushion or stabilize feet during repetitive strides on hard, even surfaces.
  • Best for people who run on sidewalks, road, treadmills or track.
  • Road-running shoes have flatter, smoother soles to create a consistent surface for running on paved roads.

Trail-running shoes are designed for off-road routes with rocks, mud, roots or other obstacles.

  • They have bigger lugs than road-running shoes for better grip on uneven terrain.
  • They are sometimes fortified with plates underfoot to help protect your feet from rocks or sharp objects.
  • Theyre generally stiffer through the midsoles for more support on rugged trails and uneven surfaces.

Cross-training shoes are designed for gym workouts, cross-training or any balance activity where having more contact with the ground is preferred over a thick platform sole.

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New Balance Wear Test Program

Youill always have to return the equipment after testing it for these guys, so this is perhaps more like free rental shoes.

They wont charge you for the shipping, though. Theyll send you a prepaid shipping label with the shoes so you can send them.

Like most companies, these people will mail more products to diligent product testers who put in their best effort.

How We Choose The Best Cushioned Running Shoes

We know how to tell shoes with great cushioning apart from normal ones. Here is our approach:

  • A team of dedicated runners tests each pair for 30-50 miles on average to provide extensive feedback.
  • Our RunRepeat lab literally tears each shoe apart to measure over 30 different parameters. We even put shoes in the freezer to check how their cushioning changes in cold temperatures.
  • We purchase all running shoes with our own money to avoid brand loyalty and bias.
  • Our system collects reviews from experts and users all over the web to make our reviews more comprehensive.

The verdict on each shoe is presented in a CoreScore. It is a number from 0 to 100 that allows us to compare and rank 1600+ cushioned running shoes.

The best shoes get on this list.

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Heel To Toe Drop In Running Shoes

If youre new, or if you run less than 10 miles per week, theres no need to know about heel to toe drop as long as you buy shoes with at least 6mm drop .

The only exception is if you have a record or severe ankle, knee, hip, ITB, Achilles, or plantar fasciitis injuries. In such cases, seek out a specialist before buying running shoes.

More experienced runners tend to show interest in the heel to toe drop. There are a lot of opinions on the subject. If you want to learn more, check our in-depth scientific guide to heel to toe drop.

Heel drop effects
The lower the drop, the greater the potential to improve cadence. Foot switch is slower in higher drop shoes.
Lower and zero drop shoes promote midfoot and forefoot strike. A higher drop allows for rearfoot strike because the elevated heel helps with high impacts when the heel hits the ground.
Lower heel drop might help with ITB, knee pain, gluteal overuse syndrome. Higher heel drop might help with plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy , calf injuries.
Low drop shoes allow for more ankle flexion during landing. The ankle absorbs the impact and works as a spring. These shoes can place greater stress on the foot, ankle, lower leg. High drop has a higher knee flexion moment. This means it has the potential to load hips and knees more, similar to heel strike.
Overstriding rearfoot strike might be prevented with a lower drop. Overstriding forefoot strike might be prevented with a higher drop.

How Often Should You Change Your Running Shoes

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Generally, you should replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles depending on your weight and the surface you run on. For someone who runs three miles three times a week, this would roughly equate to a new pair of running shoes every 10 to 12 months.

A good test is the kitchen bench method. Place the shoe on the counter – If you can make it rock with one finger on the heel, or you can see that the midsole has compressed, its usually a sure sign that it’s time to get a new pair. Similarly, if the sole is overly worn out in one area more than others, its time for a new pair.

For more information, read our article on when to replace your running shoes.

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Try On And Ensure Proper Fit

Trying on the shoes is the last step. Different companies use different technologies to achieve the same goal, so try on a few different pair to compare the feel. When trying on the shoes there are a few things to look for.1. Make sure you have enough room in the toe. A good general rule is to have about a thumbs width between the top of your toe and the end of the shoe.2. Make sure there is enough room in the width. You want the shoe tight enough that your foot is not sloppy in it, but you want enough room for your foot to spread out and allow for swelling when you run.3. Run on a treadmill or do a few laps around the store to make sure there are no hot spots or slipping in the heel. If you follow these simple steps when looking for a new running shoe, not only will you avoid an overwhelming shopping experience, but you will have a shoe that fits your specific needs and will make running that much more enjoyable!

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:

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Premium Running Shoes Vs Cheap Running Shoes

A high price tag is not a guarantee that a shoe is better than another. This said, we always recommend to shop for running shoes that have a recommended retail price of $100 or more. This does not mean you need to pay more than $100! New versions of running shoes are released every year and most often than not changes versus the previous version are small and incremental in nature. This means that instead of buying this year version of a shoe, you can very often buy last years model for a fraction of the price, often as low as 50% less.

The Best Running Shoes You Can Buy Today

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Reasons to avoid

If youre a fan of the Swoosh, choosing a pair of the best Nike running shoes can be a tricky choice. While were a huge fan of the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% for race day, we know not every runner wants to race, which is why the Pegasus 38 sneaked into the top spot here.

It was a close call between this and the Nike Invincible Run, which is also a brilliant everyday shoe, but when it comes down to it, the Pegasus is just more versatile. It’s got a good amount of React foam in the midsole for a lightweight, snappy feel underfoot, without being overly springy and leaving you feeling unstable on the run. The Pegasus is a workhorse – you can wear it for a marathon, your first 5K, and pretty much everything in between.

For a shoe to be on its 38th iteration, it must be doing something right and with the Pegasus, you’re buying reliability. The 10mm drop means you won’t feel the ground underneath your feet too much, but equally, you won’t feel like you’re running in platforms. The cushioned tongue won’t cause uncomfortable hot spots or blisters, and the forefoot of the shoe is high and wide, so prevent your toes from rubbing.

The downside with the Pegasus is that some speedier runners might find it a little ‘meh’ for tempo sessions and that old school Pegasus fans might not love the introduction of the React foam into the shoe, but if you don’t fall into either category, it’s well worth the investment.

Read our full Nike Pegasus 38 review here.

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