How to choose running shoes?

In addition to our short, fast-paced, editorial line featuring gadgets and sports novelties, we sometimes take time to answer frequently asked questions in a more detailed manner.

A widely popular question we are frequently asked is how to choose a good running shoe. In this article, we are going to provide some answers on that and will also break down for you the different type of running shoes available on the market today.

Pick the right store

Choosing running shows is not as easy as it sounds. There are plenty of new models coming out each week and it’s easy to get lost. Most shoe retailers such as FootLocker or Champs do not necessarily know how to recommend the right shoe for you. We recommend you go to a store that specializes in running shoes. They’ll ask the right questions to make sure you walk away with the right pick. It’s also useful to bring your old running shoes with you to the store and use them as an example of what you are (or not) looking for.

A running shoe for each type of feet

First thing you have to evaluate is the type of feet you have. What you have to take into consideration is the arch height of your feet, which is the curve you have in the inside portion of your sole. The diagram below shows the different arch heights.

Each arch type usually corresponds to a specific foot alignment. The diagram below shows the corresponding foot alignments.

Example 1 is a pronator, which is the equivalent to a low arch. If this is your foot type, you will need motion controlled running shoes.
Exsample 2 is a neutral foot arch. If this is your foot type, you will need stability running shoes.
Example 3 is an supinator, which is a high foot arch. If this is your foot type, you will need cushioned running shoes.

How much of a runner are you?

It may sound too simple of a rule but the more running you are doing, the more you should spend on your shoes. If you are planning on doing serious running (several hours a week), don’t be cheap when choosing your shoes. Bad shoes can often cause injuries and severe back or knee problems. If you choose the right shoes, you are more likely to recover faster and avoid running-related injuries.

The different type of running shoes

There are plenty of different models and brands to choose from. After taking into consideration the type of feet you have as well as the intensity of your running, you also have to know a little bit about the type of shoes available on the market. Once you figure out the type of shoes you need, do not hesitate to request it at your running shoe store. Shoe type are pretty standard and your advisor should know what you are referring to.

Neutral / cushioned running shoes
Neutral / cushioned shoes are for runners with high-arch feet. They provide more cushioning – especially for the heels – than other type of shoes to compensate for the lack of rotation as well as the supination.

Stability running shoes
Stability shoes are for runners with normal arch height.  They are the most balanced type of running shoes in a sense that they provide medial support and midsole cushioning.

Motion control running shoes
Motion control shoes are for low arch feet – commonly called flat feet – and overpronators.  They provide additional support required to prevent excessive foot rotation. Motion control shoes are also recommended for heavy runner to prevent injuries and increase durability.

Trail running shoes
Trail shoes are designed to run on trails and rough terrain. They are made with thicker soles and stronger support. They also include more traction on the soles to accomodate running on irregular surfaces.

Minimalist running shoes
Minimalist shoes are bringing running back to its roots. If you are not quite ready to start running barefoot, minimalist running shoes are a good alternative. They will preserve your feet’s natural movements while protecting them from getting sole injuries.

Are Barefoot Shoes a good option?

Very much in trend nowadays, barefoot shoes are not necessarily a good option when running on hard surfaces. Certainly recommended to give you a sense of freedom when running, Barefoot shoes don’t provide the same heel cushioning as regular running shoes. Give it a try on the sand or soft surfaces but we do not recommend them if most of your running is done on the road.

Please remember

If you are intending to buy running shoes in anticipation for a big race (marathon or semi-marathon), don’t wait to buy them. Buy your shoes months in advance so you get a chance to train in them before the main event. Do not run a race with brand new shoes. Running shoes have to be broken in to feel comfortable for the race. Testing them thoroughly prior to the race also ensures that your shoes do not give you blisters or other discomforts.

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