When you hear the term “running shoes,” it normally is in reference to a type of trainer known as road running shoes. These products are created with your joints in mind, so they help keep them safe even when you are running on tough terrain. They help keep you healthy and your feet feel better for it as well.
However, there are a lot of running shoes on the market, so how do you know which ones to purchase? The information included in this guide will help you select the right running shoes for your needs.
1. Foot Shape
Before you do anything else, you need to take a look at your feet and determine what type they are. It is your arches that play a crucial role in this determination. Foot shape impacts how your feet meet the ground, the way that you run and how much support you require.
If you need assistance in figuring out what shape you have, there are retailers that are happy to help you. Some have video gait analysis technology. Through video, they watch to see how your feet react to movement. Trained fitters are then able to figure out how much your foot rolls to the inside as you jog and how your foot hits the terrain. This information helps them guide you toward the best pair of shoes for your needs.
2. Can I Evaluate My Own Running Gait?
Yes, you can. While it is not precise, the wet foot test will help point you in the right direction as you attempt to select shoes.
All you need to do is get your foot wet and then walk onto a piece of thick paper (or a dark tile) and closely inspect your footprint. You’ll be able to see the shape of your foot, and from that, you can determine whether your arches are high, flat or average.
This is just a starting point, however. The wet foot test isn’t able to combine all the important information, like foot strike, so it is best to get a full gait analysis from someone that is trained to help you.
3. What Can I Learn From My Gait?
Your gait is likely to be different from someone else’s, and that is okay. However, by determining what type of gait you have, you can figure out how much support your feet need. When you have the right level of support, running is so much easier; it feels better, too, and you are much less likely to get hurt.
4. Neutral Runners
Characterized by high arches, the neutral runner has a great gait, so much so that they are not as likely to suffer injuries as other runners. The feet remain in balance throughout the duration of the run, particularly when covering a lot of ground. A lightweight, neutral shoe is best.
Neutral shoes are recommended here because of the high arches. They give good support but do not impede the foot’s progress at all.
5. Overpronating Runners
Overpronating runners have feet that roll in as they move, which puts strain on the entire body. It can also cause discomfort. Typically, these individuals either have a low arch or a flat foot.
Runners that have this type of foot are much more likely to get injured while exercising, so it is crucial to get a good pair of shoes. They need to have proper support and cushioning so that you can run without worrying.
6. Underpronating Runners
According to Orthoticshop only a small percentage of the population fall into this category. An overpronating runner is one whose foot either rolls to the outside as they move or simply doesn’t roll to the inside. There is not as much shock absorption and the little toes have to work extra hard throughout the run.
Underpronating runners usually have high arches. It is important to look for a light weight trainer that is neutral and has some cushioning. That will allow you to move as you please.
7. What Should I Take Into Account When Buying Shoes?
Once you understand what type of gait you have, and you know what your foot shape is, you can then figure out what running shoes are best for you.
The shoes must fit well and work for the intended purpose. The way they look is really not important. Instead focus on protection, cushioning and support so that you can run without fear of injury and achieve your personal bests going forward.
When it comes to features, hone in on the heel-toe drop. That refers to where your heel is in comparison to your forefoot. Your gait plays a role in determining what your heel-toe drop should be. For example, if you are a midfoot striker, you want a lower offset because you don’t really require extra padding in the heel. However, if you heel strike, you do need more padding in the heel, which is why you must have a higher offset.
There are certain features that are simply nice to have. They don’t do anything with respect to support, but they do impact the way you run and how you feel while you are out.
Mesh uppers that allow air flow to your feet are very nice. However, they must also be water resistant, so that the heat is released from your feet but bad weather doesn’t impact them. There is nothing worse than trying to run with soggy feet!
Do you enjoy running even when it is raining? You may want to look for good traction, so you don’t have any problem when it is wet out.
Do you run in the evenings, when the sun is setting, or in the early morning, when the sun hasn’t risen yet? Pick up a pair of shoes with reflective detailing, so that others can see you even when it is dark.
9. Finding The Right Shoes
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a great pair of shoes. Always pick up trainers that are slightly larger than your normal size. This helps account for swelling as you run. Also, make sure you talk to a gait expert before purchasing anything.