Remember those old running shoes buried in the depths of your closet? Well, spring is the perfect time to replace those smelly shoes with a fresh pair. With hundreds of models, colors and features available, purchasing the right running shoe can be daunting. However, a little research can help to make this process a walk (or run) in the park.
Where to start
The most important aspect of selecting a new pair of running shoes is to know your own feet. Everyone has a different stride and foot shape; therefore there are no “one size fits all” shoes on the market. Your pronation is important to understand before selecting a running shoe. The term “pronate” means to rotate inward and downward, and in the running sense, the ideal rate of pronation is inward by fifteen degrees. Anything more or less requires a shoe with additional features to correct the stride and prevent injuries.
Head to your local running specialty store
A running specialty store can analyze your running form and identify your foot type by watching you run, looking at your old shoes and measuring your feet. Running shoes are broken down into three basic categories; stability, cushioned and neutral shoes. Each shoe is designed to fit your level of pronation. Letting the staff know how much you plan on running, your running history and any running-related medical issues to help them identify the correct shoe.
Types of Shoes
- Stability Shoes: A person who overpronates will roll their feet more than fifteen degrees inward, and tend to have lower arches. This causes extra stress on the foot and can lead to issues such as plantar fasciitis, calluses, runner’s knee and Achilles tendinitis. Stability shoes have rigid materials in the arch to limit rotation, stronger heel support and a moderate amount of cushioning.
- Cushioned Shoes: An underpronater typically has higher arches, causing the foot to rotate less than fifteen degrees inward with each step. The impact is concentrated on a smaller area and can lead to iliotibial band syndrome, plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis among other problems. A cushioned shoe that allows the foot to rotate inward more than a neutral or stability shoe, and help relieve some of this stress. These shoes are generally lighter, more flexible and made with less rigid materials.
- Neutral Shoes: A neutral runner’s feet rotate inward at a manageable rate. A neutral shoe will provide you with enough cushion and support to maintain your natural foot strike. These are generally lighter than other shoes, as they do not need extra support to correct your foot motion.
- Minimalist shoes: A recent running trend are shoes with as little material as possible. These minimalist shoes are designed to give you the feeling of running barefoot while also providing enough protection from dangerous objects on the ground. The shoes can help you develop a more natural stride and strengthen the muscles of the foot. However, the lack of support can be troubling for runners who overpronate, so make sure you know your feet before trying this style.
When purchasing shoes, try them on, run around outside if possible and ask lots of questions. No matter what shoes you select, it is very important to maintain a consistent running schedule and take precautions to prevent injuries. Doing some research ahead of time can help you purchase the correct shoes, prevent injuries and help you reach your fitness goals.