It’s time to get a new pair of running shoes, but how do you know if the pair you choose is actually right for you? You may not be able to depend on the shoe salesman knowing how to best fit you for a running shoe, unless you are shopping at a sports store. Otherwise s/he may be best at fitting dress or work shoes, but fitting a running shoe depends on three factors:
- type of running
- type of foot arch
- foot design
It is imperative to take these three things into consideration when shopping for new running shoes.
Type of Running
Do you primarily run on roads, sidewalks, or other hard surfaces? Or do you mainly run on trails or other packed surfaces? A running shoe is designed to cushion and stabilize your foot as it repetitively strikes the hard surface. Trail shoes, on the other hand, are built to give you more traction, support, and underfoot protection, along with stability.
Type of Arch
The type of arch your foot has will determine how much arch support you need. An easy way to determine your arch is to look at the footprint you leave when stepping out of the shower. If you leave one with a very narrow connection between the ball of your foot and your heel, you have a high arch. A pattern showing a wide area connecting your ball and heel is considered flat. Anything in between the two extremes is a normal arch. Selecting a shoe with the right type and amount of arch support is critical to avoid arch problems and foot pain in the future.
The design of your foot has more to do with how you run. Ideally, your weight should come down directly over the center of your ankle (known as neutral pronation). But, some people are prone to their ankle tipping in (over-pronation) or tipping out (supination). To determine the type of foot you have, look at a pair of your worn shoes. If you have neutral pronation, the ball and heel of the shoe sole will be evenly worn. If you have over-pronation or supination the inside edge or outside edge, respectively, of your shoe sole will be worn more so than the other parts of the sole.
Types of Running Shoes
There are basically three types of running shoes:
- cushioning – for people with an excessive outward roll of their heel
- stability – for those with a neutral to a slight inward roll
- motion control – best suited for those having an excessive inward roll
So in the end, choosing a running shoe should involve first determining your running surface, then your foot design, and finally the arch type.