Running injuries are often the result of running with a shoe that doesn’t fit well, or doesn’t suit the runner’s stride.
Choosing a particular shoe because you like the look of it has little to do with how it will perform for you specifically.
Here is a guide to choosing the right pair of shoes – you will avoid buying a cat in a bag.
Determine your tread
Your running style will help you to choose the correct shoes, and is the single most important thing before heading to the shoe store. Take your current pair of used running shoes and turn them over to check the wear on the bottom of the soles.
You’ll see a running pattern that resembles one of these:
Runners with neutral pronation will benefit most from neutral shoes. These are runners that have a biomechanically efficient running style.
If you see that you tend to have an overpronated running style, you should know that this stride could lead to a risk of knee pain and injury. Choose stability or motion control shoes to reinforce your arches and provide extra support for the heels.
Should you notice wear on the soles that indicate supination, opt for a shoe that has a lot of flexibility and cushioning. Super-cushioned shoes provide up to 50% more cushioning to improve shock absorption.
Types of running shoes
Naturally, the type of running you do will also dictate what type of running shoe is best.
• Cross-training shoes are used by athletes who frequent the gym or do Crossfit. A thinner sole provides better contact with the ground.
• Trail-running shoes are used by trail runners who run off-road. An aggressive tread provides more traction and support in the unsteady terrain.
• Road-running shoes are used by road runners, and are flexible, light, and provide stability for repetitive strides on hard and even surfaces.
• Barefoot or minimalist shoes are generally preferred by runners who want to develop a more natural gait. These shoes are significantly lighter than normal running shoes. They also have a significantly thinner sole, which makes them more suitable for even surfaces than for trails, where you might encounter debris.
When going to a store to buy running shoes, one should aim to have a thumbnail’s length of space left in the toe box. The fit of the shoes should be snug, but not uncomfortable. If you’re buying barefoot shoes, there should be no space at all between your toes and the shoe.
It’s also good to try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet have swollen a bit, to ensure you don’t buy a size that is too small. Remember that the sizes of different brand names might differ slightly – trying on the shoe before buying it is non-negotiable.