How To Choose Running Shoes – The Ultimate 2020 Guide
There are so many factors to consider when you’re choosing a new running shoe and that can sometimes be a little overwhelming.
- What type of terrain are you going to be running on predominantly?
- Are you going to be doing long runs or short runs?
- Do you want this shoe to be a training shoe or racing shoe?
- Or maybe you want a shoe that covers both of those?
- Are you planning to start running on the treadmill?
- Do you have some common foot issues like Plantar Fasciitis, Shin Splints, Runner’s knee?
There’s a whole lot of questions you could ask yourself or the running shoe specialists could ask you. And the thing is, they’re all pertinent to your running journey.
The market has a huge amount to offer with brands promising that their shoes are going to help make you run further, make you more efficient, and even make you run faster.
Today I’m going to be breaking it down and starting off by having a closer look at the anatomy of running shoes, your foot and how it moves and then covering the options of trainers out there so we can help you to choose the perfect shoe for you.
How To Choose The Best Running Shoes
Anatomy of running shoes
Before we get rolling, let me just walk you through some of the shoe-specific jargon running shoe brands love tossing at you.
There are 3 terms that you want to commit to memory before you go shopping for your next pair of running shoes.
This is the top of the running shoe. It’s basically the fabric on the top of the shoe.
In the upper, the back area is called the heel counter. It’s basically the heel cup that wraps around your heel.
At the top of the heel counter, it’s often referred to as the heel tab. It usually has a little bit of cushion to help prevent any rubbing on the Achilles tendon.
Then there is the collar or the heel cuff which is basically like the collar of your shirt. The collar wraps around your ankle and you don’t really want a shoe collar to be rubbing on your foot.
Moving forward just a little bit on the upper, there’s the tongue. However, the Nike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit does not really have a tongue; it’s all one piece of Flyknit material.
Right below the tongue, there’s the lace-up system or the lace-up closure. The lace-up closure has eyelets that help lace up the shoe. Some running shoes feature really durable eyelets while others don’t.
If the eyelets start to break down, it makes it much more difficult to lace up your shoes properly, which may make your shoes less snug and less secure.
Moving forward just a little bit on the shoe, you’ve got the toe box area which is basically where your toes live. Just on the medial side of the toe box just where the bunion is, this is called the vamp.
Moving all the way to the front of the upper is the toe cap, sometimes called the nose of the shoe. You might think this is a small detail that is not important, but especially in trail running the toe cap is critical. The toe cap provides some protection in case you kick a rock or a tree root.
One last feature on the upper that a lot of the newest models don’t have is the overlay. An overlay is basically a piece of rubber or plastic, that just lays on top of the upper material to help provide a little bit more stability and protection through the upper.
Some people like overlays and some people don’t, but I guess a lot of runners just lean away from overlays because they weigh too much. However, if you like your upper to have a little more of a lockdown feel, look for shoes that have these overlays in the area where you need more support and security.
It is generally made of nylon which makes the shoe more breathable, lightweight and flexible.
It is a man-made material which is light and strong.
Flyknit vs Primeknit
Both of these materials made their debuts in 2012 during the 2012 Olympics. Nike released their Flyknit Racer and at the same time, Adidas released the Primeknit Adizero. Flyknit tends to use more structured larger pieces of material.
When you look closely, you can actually see every individual little piece of the yarn. With Primeknit though, that’s not usually the case. It’s generally a more uniform type of pattern. It’s hard to delineate every little piece of yarn even though there are many with patterns.
A lot of people consider Flyknit it to be the more aesthetically pleasing material. Both technologies though are very malleable. The feel of the material is probably the most important. When you feel Primeknit, it is just ultra-soft. You can really run your fingers through that and it’ll bounce right back to shape. It’s ultra stretchy and totally conforms to your foot.
There are some areas of the Primeknit that are made stiffer for the structural integrity of the shoe. However, it is just a much more overall soft and comfortable feel. Flyknit has some stretch to it, but it’s a much more rigid feeling. In my opinion, Primeknit seems like a comfort material. It’s best for conforming to your foot making them feel sock-like and just feeling ultra-soft.
On the other hand, Flyknit seems to be more of an athletic material. Not only does it seem to really provide more of a structure for your foot, but it is also quite a bit thinner and more breathable. You’re usually able to get much bigger ventilation holes on a Flyknit shoe.
Flyknit tends to be quite a bit better at venting out heat. Primeknit isn’t the worst of ventilating by a long shot. Primeknit is just usually a lot less breathable than Flyknit. Durability-wise, Primeknit tends to be pretty delicate to the point that even a clean brush can fray the threads and mess it up.
On the other hand, Flyknit does tend to be a bit more durable. When you clean it or brush it, it tends not to fray as much. It seems to me like the hardness of the material kind of correlates with the durability of it. They’re both great materials and both are great technologies.
I find Primeknit to be the best lifestyle sneaker. It’s super soft and super comfortable. If you just want to forget you’re wearing a shoe, that’s what Primeknit is for.
On the other side, Flyknit is the much better activewear material. It’s thinner, it has more structure and it ventilates a lot better than almost every Primeknit model out there.
The insole is inside the shoe and it helps with cushioning and comfort. Also, it helps absorb some of the impact through your gait cycle.
Some insoles are thin and others are a bit thicker, some offer extra arch support and others are just flat all the way. Choose an insole according to how much cushion you want it to provide, but make sure it just doesn’t keep sliding around when you take your shoes for a test run.
The midsole is the foam right below the upper. It’s the white area on the Brooks Ghost 11 above.
There are tons of midsole technologies that vary from company to company that you should be aware of. Some of them are:
- EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate)
- Nike (Air, Air Max, Zoom, Zoom X, Lunarlon, React)
- Adidas (Boost, Futurecraft)
- Under Armour Hovr
- Saucony Everun
- Asics (Gel, Flytefoam)
- New Balance Fresh Foam
- Brooks (DNA Loft, DNA AMP)
- Altra Ego
EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate)
It is a synthetic compound which gives lightweight cushion. It can be modified to give custom cushion and comfort.
Nike Air Max
It’s designed to provide maximum impact protection during repetitive landings. Shoes with Air Max technology feature less midsole material and larger-volume airbags for lighter weight and maximum cushioning.
The Air Max displaces heavier midsole materials reducing the weight of the shoe without sacrificing the performance. The max air cushioning absorbs impact forces when the foot strikes on the ground protecting muscles, joints, and tendons.
The Air Max cushioning immediately returns to the original shape to protect the body from the next impact force. Also, its design is surprisingly really durable. It’s supposed to give you enough cushioning to last the lifetime of the shoe.
Con. Air is not the most comfortable cushioning or the most shock absorbing product on the market.
The Nike Air Zoom cushioning is actually part of the Nike Air family. Like its siblings, Nike Zoom is a lightweight and durable material. Because Zoom cushioning is incredibly thin, it brings the foot closer to the ground and enhances the stability especially during quick cuts and multi-directional movements.
The Pegasus 35 features full-length Zoom encased in the Cushlon midsole. So after impact, the tightly stretched fibers inside the pressurized air unit quickly bounce back into shape and provide a super-responsive feel and improved awareness of the surface you’re running on.
Nike Zoom Air is made for quick cuts and for high impact and you do get a lot of responsiveness. It’s very thin and it’s very light.
The biggest con that I know is that you can actually blow out the Zoom unit, which is literally something that can happen and you can’t really play with the shoes after you do that.
The idea behind Nike free is to improve your athletic performance by allowing your body to perform naturally. Nike Free shoes offer the proven benefits of barefoot training. Since you’re allowed freedom, your toes will flex and grip exercising muscles in a natural chain neglected by traditional footwear.
Exercising these muscles allow athletes to achieve smaller performance benefits like adding millimeters to vertical leaps or shaving milliseconds off of a race time while exercising key stabilizer muscles that prevent injury.
Lunarlon is basically the fusion of lightweight Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, also known as EVA, with a bouncy ball-like spring of Nitrile Rubber (NBR). Lunarlon cushioning features a soft yet resilient foam core that is encased with a supportive foam carrier for lightweight ultra-plush cushioning, springy responsiveness, and support.
The innovative Lunarlon foam is invented by Nike and it’s 30% lighter than the traditional Phylon foam. It allows the force of the impact to be more evenly distributed, which helps reduce painful pressure points on the feet.
Lunarlon is tried-and-true and was very innovative for the time.
It’s an extremely comfortable technology.
Con. It is sort of a dated technology because there are newer technologies that are trending now. People say that the Lunarlon feels like it bottoms out if you wear your shoes a ton.
The Nike React foam is something that was developed in-house. Its unique composition gives runners foam that is lighter, softer, more responsive than ever, and more durable than the Nike Lunarlon foam. Historically, it was really difficult to deliver these 4 elements in one package.
However, Nike React technology delivers them all in one. With no carrier foam or glue, you stand directly on the foam. React foam is exaggerated in size for a specific reason and that is to absorb more impact.
React offers tons of cushioning. It’s very soft, very responsive, very light.
The only con I can find definitely would be the visible durability of the shoe although they say that React cushioning can go for a long period of time.
Nike Zoom X
The Nike Zoom X cushioning is a newly designed ultra-lightweight foam that delivers Nike’s greatest energy return yet. Inside the foam, there’s actually a carbon fiber plate that springs up under your heel as you stride forward giving you a propulsive feel. I can definitely say that is 100% true.
The Nike Vapor Fly 4% has been stripped down to the most essential parts. It’s light, it’s fast as hell and it’s perfect for the road races up to and including a marathon.
Zoom X is extremely comfortable, extremely responsive, well-cushioned. It’s mega lightweight. It feels like you’re wearing nothing but still getting maximum amounts of return on your feet.
This is a new technology that has been talked a lot about and with good reason. Futurecraft is a new creation between Adidas and Carbon which utilizes Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis technology. This technology creates midsoles out of a liquid resin material for the first manufactured 3D printed midsole for personalized performance products.
This sneaker technology though could be the key to the future for personalized cushioning since they aim to have this tech available on-demand in stores for consumers to have their midsoles individually tailored to your feet. You basically run on a treadmill and then it maps your foot, they print out your midsole on the spot and then you have your own personalized pair of running shoes.
The material has just been engineered to perfection, in my opinion. While it looks like Styrofoam, Boost is not. There are thousands of super springy pellets made from thermoplastic polyurethane also known as TPU that are fused together to create an experience for your feet that is not easily replicated.
Even though we’ve heard that boost is dead, the Adidas boost technology though has earned a mainstay in most runners’ sneaker rotation. It’s definitely one of the most responsive, well-cushioned and durable technology that there is on the market.
Under Armour Hovr
Under Armour made a solid contribution into the sneaker technology market in 2018 with Hovr. This features an energy web system which is a mesh fabric that wraps the cushioning core to deliver responsiveness and energy return.
Last but not least, Hovr is similar to Nike Lunarlon since it does feature an encased foam but it almost feels more like a Lunarlon 2.0.
Saucony have developed a new continuous cushioning technology called EVERUN. Because of everyone’s unique properties, EVERUN provides cushioning that’s continuous for every landing, every stride, and every ride. Saucony places the EVRUN cushioning closer to the foot giving runners a livelier more responsive run.
Furthermore, EVERUN adapts to runners needs combining smoother landings in the heel with reduced pressure in the forefoot for better protection during takeoffs. EVERUN maintains its characteristics far better than other cushioning; it doesn’t break down.
Saucony claims that EVERUN provides 83% percent energy return continuously giving back to runners especially at the end of the run when they need it most helping them run stronger and longer.
Unlike other cushioning systems, EVERUN resists heat and cold, which means it won’t lose its resilience over the course of the run. It’s also more flexible and it works with more types of runners and more kinds of strides.
Asics have introduced a new midsole called FlyteFoam. Asics states that this material is 33% lighter than any midsole material they’ve used before. To achieve this, Asics have opened up the air particles in the midsole material.
Although FlyteFoam is substantially lighter, Asics haven’t compromised the cushioning or the durability of their shoes. FlyteFoam offers better durability and increased bounce-back allowing the shoe to bounce back to its original shape whilst the runner is running.
New Balance Fresh Foam
Fresh Foam is New Balance’s signature midsole material and it features in shoes like the 1080 and the Zante. What it brings to those shoes is a lightweight responsive and durable cushioning making them perfect for long-distance runs like the marathon. The Fresh Foam technology is absolutely brilliant for athletes.
It’s a really lightweight well-cushioned technology and athletes love to feel fast in a lightweight shoe. But the benefit of the added cushion from the Fresh Foam technology means that they can put in a 100 miles a week in the Fresh Foam 1080. It also allows them to recover well and feel good on the run.
Brooks DNA Loft
DNA Loft is the softest midsole compound in any Brooks shoe. It’s a midsole technology that delivers comfort and protection using Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) rubber and air to give you on-demand cushioning without added weight or bulk. In other words, not too hard, not too soft, just right.
The industry was struggling to develop soft comfortable midsoles that have the durability that runners need. The problem is that the softest materials tend to be the quickest to wear down.
By combining something that we know quite well which is EVA with a proprietary blend of air, Brooks was able to deliver an instantaneously light and soft feeling that is durable enough to last the life of the shoe.
The code name for the shoe as Brooks was developing this compound was panda foam and that kind of represents especially kind of the belly of the Panda.
The great thing about DNA Loft is that the softness you feel in mile one is exactly what you’re going to feel in mile three hundred. DNA Loft is Brooks’ softest, most comfortable cushioning technology yet.
Brooks DNA AMP
DNA AMP is a midsole technology that returns more energy to the runner than any market-leading shoe. In other words, let the energy do the work for you. The traditional material that’s used in Brooks’ industry is EVA.
Over the course of time, EVA has become a little bit topped out in terms of its performance properties from a molecular level. Some solutions were too soft allowing runners to bottom out while others were too springy, which has its own challenges.
So, Brooks decided to shift focus away from EVA and moved to polyurethane which provided much more energy return. When the foot hits the platform, AMP immediately starts to absorb and return that energy. It’s coupled with the TPU casing on the outside, which reduces that displacement so as the material starts to absorb, the TPU casing also reinforces it and shoots the energy back at a higher rate.
The industry average is around 50 to 60% energy return to the runner. Brooks claims that DNA provides approximately 70% energy return.
It’s a rubberized EVA that’s compression resistant. What’s really nice about it is that it feels the same from mile 1 to 26. It does not pack down and it does not bottom out. If you are wearing it all day, it’s going to feel the same.
Ego is dual-nature. What that means is that when you’re going slower, it feels softer and then when you start to pick up the pace, it gets a little bit more responsive and a little bit firmer. So no matter what speed you’re going, Ego always kind of fits that perfect adaptive feel.
Carbon Fiber Plate
Also, some models feature the carbon-fiber plate and I think the carbon fiber plate race is on all across the running shoe landscape to integrate carbon fiber plates in the midsole. Some of these models include:
- Nike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit
- Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit
- Nike Next %
- Hoka Carbon Rocket
- Hoka Carbon X
One last midsole feature is the rock plate which is placed between the midsole and the outsole. A lot of trail running shoes like the Salomon Speedcross 5 have a rock plate which is basically a piece of hard plastic.
The rock plate is embedded between the outsole and the midsole to help protect your feet from sharp rocks when you’re out there on the trails. It’s a nice feature and adds more weight to the shoe, but it’s a nice feature to have especially when you’re running on rocky trails.
It’s the bottom of the shoe where the tread is at and it’s usually comprised of hard rubber.
A lot of outsoles use very similar rubber. An outsole protects your foot from the ground and it increases the durability of your running shoes. Companies strategically place hard rubber in high-wear areas to make the shoes even more durable.
If you have a midsole that is more exposed through the outsole, the midsole will break down quicker.
In trail running shoes, outsoles have lugs whose depth depends on the terrain. In really muddy conditions, you want your lug depth to be taller. Where these lugs are placed on the outsole makes up the tread pattern which I really think can impact the type of grip you’re getting in muddy conditions, snowy conditions, etc.
One last thing, trail running shoe outsoles also feature a footbridge. This is basically a bridge between the heel and the forefoot.
The first move every runner or an older runner who hasn’t done this before is go to a running shoe and have their feet analyzed. That’s called gait analysis.
Gait analysis is really important because it helps experts determine what shoe is best for you. Whether you’re overpronating and need a structured shoe or you’re a neutral or supinated runner and need a neutral shoe.
Gait analysis helps limit those injuries you might encounter. For example, if you’re an overpronator in a neutral shoe, that can more likely cause some injuries.
Most running shoe stores offer free gait analysis. They’ll start you off in a neutral shoe like the Nike Free Run which would allow them to pick up every bit of movement that goes on in your gait.
The next stage of the process is to get you up on the treadmill. They will analyze your running style for about 30 seconds of video. They will slow the video and will determine if you overpronate, supinate or maintain a neutral running style. Then, they’ll put you in a different running shoe to compare the results.
After that, they’re going to compare the two videos side by side to see if you’re running form has improved.
It is worth remembering that a shoe is not designed to correct your gait. It’s mainly there to support your foot in running. But if you do want to change your gait, I’m afraid that’s going to involve some hard work in the gym working on drills and stretches, sorry to disappoint on that.
It’s really important to have your gait reassessed because it can change. So pop into one of them stores, have a free gait analysis and know what type of pronation you have.
This leads us to the next section…
Firstly, what works for one runner may not necessarily work for another. So don’t aimlessly head out and buy a pair of running shoes just because you like the look of them or your friend has recommended them to you.
What is pronation?
Pronation is quite simply the motion of your foot rolling from the heel to your toe as your foot strikes the floor.
As with most things, everyone will run slightly differently and this is why there are three different types of pronation. When choosing the right pair of running shoes, it is very important to know which type you have.
What is neutral pronation?
Neutral pronation is the most common type. This is the action of the foot making impact with the outside of the heel and rolling up to the ball of your foot nice and evenly.
This means you are distributing the stress of the impact proportionately and are pushing off evenly from the front of the foot.
What is overpronation?
With overpronation, the foot will make initial contact with the outside of the heel. However, when the foot continues to roll, the ball of your foot will roll inward more than the ideal 15 degrees.
This means the foot and ankle have problems stabilizing the body and shock isn’t absorbed efficiently.
At the end of the cycle, the front of the foot is mainly pushing off of the big and second toe causing an excessive force.
What is severe overpronation?
Severe overpronation means the ball of your foot will roll excessively inwards causing great pressure on the big toe as you run.
What is underpronation or supination?
Underpronation or supination means the foot will make contact with the ground with the outside of the heel. However, the foot will then continue to roll onto the outside of the foot.
This means the impact is forced onto a concentrated area of the foot and when pushing off, the pressure is mostly applied to the smaller toes.
Arch Type & Shoe Selection
Pronation is generally associated with the height of your arch or general foot type. The arch of your foot is simply the middle area of the foot. This will vary from person to person ranging from people with flat feet all the way up to a high arch.
What is a normal arch?
A normal arch is generally associated with neutral pronation. You have a distinct curve along the inside of the foot and in the middle should be a little less than half the width of your foot.
What is a high arch?
A high arch is mostly linked to underpronation. You will have a very sharp curve along the inside of the foot and your center width is very thin.
What is a low arch?
A low arch is generally associated with overpronation which can lead to overuse injuries. There’s not much of a curve along the inside and your imprint shows a large percentage of the entire area of your foot.
What is a flat arch?
In instances of severe overpronation, you will see the entire area of your foot mark.
So now you know what your foot type is and what type of pronation you have, it’s time to choose the correct running shoe for each type of arch .
Neutral running shoes provide a bit of shock absorption and a little medial support. So, they’re essentially designed to roll through in a nice neutral motion. If you do supinate, these shoes won’t add any more unnecessary control or stability.
Stability shoes are for someone that overpronates. These normally offer a good blend of cushioning and stability. Stability is provided by a firm area around the arch side for support and to provide higher stability to control the motion of the foot as it rolls through. They often have a semi-curved shape and don’t control foot motion as strictly as motion control shoes.
Motion control running shoes are essentially a beefed-up version of stability shoes and they just simply provide a little bit more support around the arch area. If you have severe overpronation or flat feet, these shoes have greater control and help to stop the arch from collapsing in too far. These shoes offer maximum support to your foot and are the most rigid control-orientated running shoes.
Adidas Supernova VS Nike Streak 7
Other than the color, the main difference you’ll notice with the Adidas Supernova Boost and the Nike Zoom Streak 7 is the amount of cushioning. The Supernova is super well-cushioned whilst the Streak 7 is a lot more minimal. Weight-wise the Supernova is almost twice as heavy than the Nike.
So, when would you wear each type of shoe?
The well-cushioned Supernova is great for absorbing impacts perfect for your everyday training miles. It is heavier, but it does help to keep you injury-free and in one piece.
The more minimal Streak 7 is actually a lightweight racing flat that is designed to give you that edge on race day.
Below is a simple chart which clarifies all the foot and pronation types into which category of running shoes you will want to be looking at.
What if there’s no running store where you live that offers gait analysis services?
Even if your running store doesn’t have needed equipment, it’s still really important to go to a store because the guys working there sell running shoes day in day out so they know what to look for and how to advise you. But also, you can try the shoes on as tempting as it might be to go and buy them online. Trying on plenty of shoes is really important.
Foot Strike & Shoe Selection
Your foot strike is simply the first area of your shoe that hits the ground while running. There are typically 3 different areas that runners strike the ground: heel strike, mid-foot strike, and forefoot strike.
During a heel strike, the heel is the first part of the shoe to come in contact with the ground. In this strike pattern, the outside or lateral edge of the heel is where contact first occurs. Heel strikers tend to do best in traditional running shoes with heel-to-toe offsets of 8 millimeters to 12 millimeters. Here are 10 running shoes for heel strikers.
During a mid-foot strike, the outside portion of the middle of the shoe makes the first contact with the ground. Mid-foot strikers tend to do best in shoes with heel-to-toe offsets of 9 millimeters or less. We’ve reviewed 10 great running shoes for mid-foot strikers.
During a forefoot strike, the outside portion of the forefoot contacts the ground first. The heel may touch down briefly to provide stability. Forefoot strikers can wear any type of shoe but taller heel heights just add unnecessary weight to the shoe. Check out these running shoes for forefoot strikers.
Proper fit is the most important determinant of what shoes you should be wearing on your feet. Here are some tips to get you comfortable.
A thumb’s worth of space
Make sure you’ve got about a thumbs worth of space between the end of your toes and the end of the shoe. You can scoot your heel back in the shoe and then just press your thumb down right at the top to make sure you have that space.
Or, you can scoot your foot forward until your toes just touch the end of the shoe and then you can just slide your thumb right into the back of the shoe again to make sure you have that amount of space.
Midfoot and heel fit
You want to make sure the midfoot and the heel are nice and snug but not so tight that you’re going to have hot spots on the shoe.
Tingling or numbness
If you’re getting any tingling or numbness in your toes, sometimes that means you’ve tied the shoes a little tight so you can loosen them up. It could also mean that maybe you don’t have enough volume in your shoes and the shoes are too narrow or too short.
If you’re getting bruising on your toes, that usually means that you don’t have that thumb’s worth of space between your toes and the end of the shoe.
If you’re getting blisters on your toes, usually that just means you don’t have plenty enough room in the toe box. If there are blisters on the ball of your foot, it’s because it’s a little wide in the shoe. If you’re getting blisters on your heel, sometimes that can mean your heel is actually just sliding around a little bit in the back of the shoe and the rubbing is causing you some problems.
You do want to make sure and resize every time you get a new pair of shoes. Feet change size over time, so you just want to start with accurate measurement from the get-go.
For a lot of people, one foot is a little bit bigger or a little bit smaller than the other one. So, always size both shoes to the size of the larger foot.
You just want to make sure when you’re trying on your shoes it’s the most realistic it’s going to be to when you’re actually running around. So try them on at the end of the day when your feet are the largest.
Socks and custom orthotics
Whether they’re a little bit thicker or whether they’re a little thinner low-profile ones, bring your socks in and try them on with the shoes. If you use orthotics or custom footbeds, bring those in as well and just toss them right in your shoes when you’re around in the store.
The heel-to-drop drop or the offset is a measurement of the offset between the heel and the forefoot. If a shoe features a 4mm heel drop, it means there are 4 millimeters from the heel to the forefoot.
The reason you need to take the drop into consideration when you’re buying new shoes is that it can play a factor in running performance.
People like to connect the dots a few different ways, but this is generally how they like to do it:
Low heel-to-toe drop means that you’ll land more on your midfoot. In other words, a low or medium heel-to-toe drop (zero to 8mm) promotes a forefoot or mid-foot strike, while a high-drop shoe (10–12mm) promotes heel striking.
It doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be one way or the other. Some people prefer to run in lower drop shoes while others find it more suitable to run in higher drop shoes.
Research on shoe drop/offset
There are some theories that say since there’s a lower heel-toe offset and you land more on your midfoot, you might be less injury-prone.
One study took two groups of runners and basically trained them to be midfoot strikers. They put one group in progressively lower-drop shoes over 3 months while the other group had like a stride retraining. They did find that the people who were in gradually lower drop shoes had less impact on the heel. Whether this correlated with reduced injury risk or more improved performance, it was inconclusive.
Another study took 10mm, 6mm and 0mm drop shoes in a group of runners over 6 months to see if any injury risks were mitigated. Again, they weren’t and it was all pretty much the same.
There’s also a school of thought that says it doesn’t really matter what shoes you wear if you’re a ‘good runner’ and you put in the training that over time you’ll pretty much adapt to whatever you put on. I can kind of understand that basically saying if you take a world-class marathoner and put them in a few different types of shoes, they’re probably going to perform more or less the same. I guess that can kind of makes sense.
So the key takeaway is you see what works for you. Buy 3 pair of shoes, try them on for a little while, run in them a few times and see what feels comfortable. So it really depends on what works for you and what makes you comfortable and also what keeps you from getting injured.
Running surfaces aren’t all created equal. Some are hard, some are soft, some are smooth and predictable, and others are rough and irregular. Considering the different traits of the path you choose is important if you’re hoping to avoid injury or if you’re returning to running after an injury.
In an extremely hot climate like in Texas or Florida, you may find that most of the roads where you live are concrete. Part of the reason for this is that concrete doesn’t melt in the heat. Concrete is an extremely hard surface.
Of all the possible running surfaces, concrete may be the least forgiving. So if you have a metatarsal stress fracture or some other type of injury that could use a little cushion, concrete should be your very last choice.
So if all the roads in your neighborhood are made of concrete, you might want to look for a jogging trail with a softer surface.
Asphalt heats up and gets soft when the sun is blaring and this is a characteristic that can actually be used to your advantage. On hot days, asphalt is actually relatively soft, but when it’s freezing cold outside, asphalt will harden up and stiffen. So the hotter it is outside, the softer the surface and the less stress on your foot.
So when it comes to running on paved streets, asphalt is probably your best choice. It’s smooth, it’s predictable, and it’s relatively soft when compared to concrete, brick or cobblestone.
Dirt roads can make an excellent running surface. If they’re well-maintained and they’re relatively smooth, you don’t have to worry about abruptly accidentally pronating your foot on an angular surface.
Pack dirt is also very soft. That cushion can allow you to run many extra miles without accumulating so much stress that you get an overuse injury like the metatarsal stress fracture. If it’s possible to incorporate some packed dirt running surfaces into your regular running routine, it could significantly decrease the amount of force to your musculoskeletal system and it certainly has the potential to lower your risk of an overtraining injury.
Grass is one of the softest surfaces there is. Every time your foot lands on all those leaves of grass, they absorb force and cushion the blow to your feet and legs. Running on grass is one of the recommendations I often hear from coaches.
Although there is some merit to the idea of running on a grass surface, it also has risks. The problem is that all those leaves of grass can conceal divots, ruts, and gopher holes it could trip you up.
When grass is mowed, it looks flat on top and all of those potholes hide under the smooth grassy surface. So if you’re running along and you catch one of those hidden obstacles at just the right angle, it can cause a serious injury.
Trails are one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors. However, it can be dangerous. In fact, irregular trail surfaces have lots of roots and rocks and erosions that can lead to serious injury. When your foot lands on a rock or the side of a large root, it can be forcibly pronated or supinated.
If your foot lands on an angular surface, that shoves your foot in one direction or another you could get a serious injury.
So proceed with caution, keep your eyes on the trail, and try to land on the flattest sections you can. Try not to land on the rocks or the really rough sections that can cause an injury.
Running on sand can be one of the best ways to build run-specific fitness. Trying to push off with a surface that seems to fade away underneath, you can rapidly build strength. If you’ve ever tried it, you know that running on loose sand is a brutal workout.
Many runners also seem to recommend sand for its capacity to diminish forces when you land. In that respect, sand can reduce your risk of stress-related injuries such as a metatarsal stress fracture.
If you decide to run on sand, you have to realize that all sand is not created equal. Even if you look at one specific beach, you’ll notice that there are really several different types of surfaces on the beach.
Closest to the water where the waves hit sand is actually wet. As you move a little bit higher up along the beach, it’s extremely smooth but it still has some water content in it that keeps it relatively soft.
If it’s a very gentle slope, this can make a great running surface. However, you have to keep in mind that you’re running along a sloping surface. So if you run ten miles in one direction, you’re going to be pronating one foot and supinating the other foot for the entire distance. It’s actually much better to run one mile out and one mile back alternating each direction to alter the forces.
When you get further away from the water, you have dry loose sand. If you do a long run in this type of sand, you’re almost assured some sort of overtraining injury. It’s just too loose, unstable and irregular to sustain long efforts.
Running in snow can be magical. But much like sand, there can be a lot of variability with snow. Hard packed snow that you might encounter on a snowy road can make a really good running surface.
If the temperature’s just right, it may have some cushion when you land and enough stability so that you can push off without slipping and sliding. When the temperature gets too low, the snow can turn to rock-hard ice and this stuff can be just as hard as concrete.
To make matters worse, ice can obviously be as slippery as ice. So slip and fall on the ice and you might wind up in the emergency room with more than just a sprained ankle.
As the snow begins to melt, it becomes less stable. Slushy snow doesn’t really make a great running surface because it’s just too unstable. Much like dry loose sand, it’ll skate away underneath you and the result is excessive pronation. All that extra pronation can add up to too much risk of an injury.
Although most running surfaces come with a balance of pluses and minuses, there’s really only one that has way more advantages than disadvantages. If you go to the stadium at your local high school or college, you’ll most often times find a jogging track circling the football field. Those rubberized jogging tracks make the ideal running surface. They’re relatively smooth and flat with just enough cushion.
Every time you land, you mitigate the forces of gravity because the tracks are actually made with a rubberized surface.
But bear in mind that some brand-new freshly surfaced jogging tracks will feel super soft if you’re doing a tempo run or mile repeats and you may have a hard time staying on pace.
No matter where you live, you likely have several of these different surfaces to choose from. Of course, you don’t have to pick just one. Some runners try to run on at least three different surfaces each week.
They say variety is the spice of life. Variety may also be the spice of injury reduction. In the same way that cross-training can spread out the forces across a number of different anatomic structures to reduce your risk of injury, altering the running surfaces so you can spread out the forces to your feet can help you stay healthy, run longer, and recover faster.
Choose your path wisely.
Road Running Shoes vs. Trail
Are road running shoes good for trail?
If you already have a pair of road running shoes, you may be wondering if it’s a good idea to spare your bucks and just take your road shoes out on the trail.
Road shoes are great, but if you’ve ever tried venturing off-road in them, you probably have noticed a significant lack of grip and maybe ended up face-plant in the mud. That’s because road running shoes are designed for flat smooth surfaces and not really for surfaces that are full of roots, rocks, mud, you got the point.
Let’s discuss the differences between these shoes in detail…
The first thing to consider is the outsole. With trail running shoes, you’re going to see a lot of these more gnarly features. The points on trail shoe outsoles are called lugs which are designed to give you a lot of grip when you’re going over varied surfaces. So with roots, rocks, mud, you really want that traction when you’re out on the trail.
By comparison, road shoes are really designed to give you a stable consistent surface for running over paved ground. One other difference to keep in mind is that some trail shoes have a stickier outsole on the bottoms. These outsoles are not all the way to climbing shoes sticky, but that stickiness on the bottom of the shoe is going to give you more grip when you’re out on the trail.
Looking at the two sections above, trail shoes are a little bit stiffer all the way through. They’re really designed to give you that support when you’re out in the dirt.
One other thing to keep in mind is that some trail shoes also have what’s called a rock plate. A rock plate is a bit of extra material in the midsole of the shoe that’s going to protect your feet from anything pointy you might happen to step on.
Road shoe midsoles are made of different types of foam and they can give a little more control when you’re running over that paved surface in terms of keeping your foot from pronating a little. On the contrary, trail shoes are just stiff all the way around.
Since road running shoes don’t have rock plates in them, if you decide to take a run through the gravel on your road shoes, you are going to feel those little rocks and bits on the ground right through the foam.
Overall, your trail shoes are just a little burlier to protect the shoe and your foot from everything that’s out on the trail. The trail shoe above has a stiff toe cap on the front, some reinforcements on the sides versus the road that doesn’t have those features. The plus side of road shoes not having all that reinforcement is that they tend to be a little lighter than trail shoes.
In a nutshell
Trail running shoes generally have a bit more tread and a slightly more jagged design to the sole to improve that traction and grip. These shoes can have a reinforced upper to deal with those conditions and the terrain a little bit more. Obviously, these are really well suited to anyone doing any off-road, multi-sport events.
Barefoot vs. Minimal Running Shoes
What’s the difference between barefoot and minimal running shoes?
A lot of people get confused at the difference between barefoot and minimalist running shoes. In this section, I’m going to debunk a couple of myths.
The Vibram FiveFingers V Run is a good example of a barefoot running shoe and the Newton MV Cubed or MV3 is a good example of a minimal running shoe.
Barefoot and minimalist runners swear by both shoes and just find them absolutely phenomenal.
So, what are the main differences between them? What do you need to watch out for? What makes up a barefoot shoe? What qualifies as a minimalist shoe?
Barefoot running shoes
A barefoot running shoe, as the name suggests, should simulate running completely barefoot as closely as possible. However, it should still give you good protection against modern elements. So you don’t really want to be treading on uneven ground with glass and shrapnel and all the rest of it.
The sole should be pretty tough going, tough wearing and it should stop any glass or nails or anything like that.
Barefoot shoes should be thin and they should be very very flexible. You should essentially be able to roll your shoes up into a little ball. If you can’t, it’s not really a barefoot running shoe.
The important thing to note about barefoot running shoes is that they should allow your toes to splay outright. Barefoot shoes don’t necessarily need to have separate fingers. They should either have individual toes or a nice wide toe box to allow your toes to splay out as they would if you’re running barefoot.
Barefoot should be the closest thing humanly possible to running barefoot. Accordingly, they should be incredibly light you shouldn’t really be too aware that you’ve got them on your feet.
Also, they should be very comfortable, very enjoyable and they should give you an incredible amount of ground perception.
With good barefoot running shoes, your brain should be able to recognize everything that’s going on underneath your feet. Your brain should be able to feel every nook and cranny, every bump, every crevice, every turn, and every twist and react to that.
That’s a very stimulating feeling and that is what barefoot running is all about.
According to the barefoot specialists, barefoot running shoes offer the best injury-free running and the most enjoyable running experience.
With barefoot shoes, you absorb all of the impact through ligaments, your joints, and your muscles. So the tendons and the muscles which are supposed to absorb the impact, absorb the impact without any interference of running shoe cushioning.
Barefoot running shoes are claimed to build up your running strength. The calves, the ankles, and the feet become so strong.
Another example of a barefoot running shoe would be the Merrill Vapor Glove. It rolls up, it has a very thin sole and it has a good example of a wide toe box.
Minimal running shoes
Minimal running shoes differ slightly. In my opinion, in order to be a minimal running shoe, it has to have a zero drop. What that means is from heel through the midfoot there’s no padding and no additional elevation on your heel. It’s a completely flat surface to run on.
Minimal running shoes should be pretty flexible but they’re going to be nowhere near as flexible as a Vibram FiveFingers.
While barefoot shoes have no padding, minimal running shoes have some padding and you should be able to feel that.
The trade-off with minimalist running shoes is they’re still very minimal, they don’t have elevated heels, and they allow you to run with the same technique as barefoot running shoes.
The additional little bit of padding there and the slight lack of flexibility essentially allows you to run with all those muscles you’ve developed, but it also gives a little bit more push back as well.
The padding in minimalist shoes does nothing really for absorbing impact and that’s a myth. What it does do is it transfers the energy more effectively behind you at a cost obviously of driving that energy through your body and through your skeletal structure a little bit more.
With minimalist shoes, you’ll get the speed increase you need. Runners looking for speed do better in minimalist shoes than in barefoot shoes. The Newton above is incredibly fast and it’s a great option if you just want to smash out super fast time.
These are the main differences between barefoot and minimalist running shoes that I could think of.
Barefoot shoes help engage your muscles, tendons, and joints and eventually strengthen them while minimalist shoes are great for training and just help you smash out whatever times you’re doing.
So, both are fantastic, it’s all in the training.
Waterproof vs. non-waterproof running shoes
Are waterproof running shoes a good idea? The short answer is ‘sometimes’.
There’s a wide variety of styles of waterproof running shoes. Often, you’ll see something like a coating on the surface of the shoe or a liner like Gore-Tex (GTX) or something like that. All of these materials are going to be doing the job of helping keep water from entering the shoe and help your feet breathe a little bit.
However, there are limitations to that breathability. In fact, you’ll never get a waterproof running shoe that breathes as well as a mesh one.
Waterproof shoes are great for super cold, snowy runs. When you’re going on a damp trail, these shoes can keep some of that water from getting and keep you a little warmer.
However, in a true downpour or really wet conditions, it’s not going to be that great because water can still get in through the ankle of the shoe.
So, with something like a Gore-Tex liner, you’re going to have a lot of water gathering inside the shoe and you’ll be basically running in a mini puddle. Something like a gaiter can be really helpful for light rain, but it’s not going to help you in the stream.
So for really wet runs or if you’re doing a lot of stream or river crossings, I recommend a non-waterproof shoe. Look for shoes that have some type of drainage and they’re going to help your feet dry off a bit faster so you can enjoy your run more.
When To Replace Running Shoes
Have you found the perfect running shoes that you never want to part with? Are you guilty of wearing your trainers until they’re literally falling off your feet? If you are, then you’re greatly at risk of injury.
Knowing when to part from your trainers is difficult. There’s so many numbers out there and different opinions. Well in this section, I’m going to show you the signs and what to look out for when you do need to part with those very worn much-loved shoes.
Why change your running shoes?
It might sound obvious, but your trainers won’t last forever. I have heard the odd horror story when a friend proudly announces that they’ve been wearing the same trainers for three years and they’ve not had an injury. But I warn you this is an exception to the rule.
We wear trainers to protect our feet from the surfaces that we run on as well as to keep the optimum function of our muscles and our joints.
We wear trainers to protect our feet from the surfaces that we run on as well as to keep the optimum function of our muscles and our joints. Running shoes wear their form, their grip, and support or diminish at different rates, but some of them are more visible than others.
With wear, your running shoes will become thinner and the midsole layer of cushioning will decrease. Our bodies are great to adapting so your hips, knees, and ankles will compensate for this. But eventually, when the midsole becomes so thin, it will lead to injury and the key is changing your shoes before you get to this stage.
When to change your running shoes?
When to change your shoes is such a gray area. There are so many different suggestions out there and the miles and time that you can run in your shoes before you need to throw them in the bin vary so much from person to person.
This is a really rough guide, but people say somewhere between 300 to 500 miles or 450 to 600 kilometers. When it comes to the time frame, that’s even more vague, but somewhere maybe between 12 to 18 months.
These numbers are such rough guides as your weight, your running style, the surface you run on, the type of running and so on are all affecting factors.
Whether your shoes have air, gel, or springs, it makes little difference. Most running shoe midsoles have a foam layer made of EVA or Ethylene Vinyl Acetate that wears at a similar rate. This means there’s no significant difference between brands.
EVA is extremely elastic similar to rubber but a little bit tougher. That said, it does still wear out.
Areas to check
Running shoes are made up of three different parts all of which need to be taken into consideration when you’re looking at the wear of your shoe.
Let’s start with the upper which consists of the mesh, the laces, the eyelets, and the heel counter. Obviously, you want to be able to tighten your laces correctly so if you’re missing any eyelets that’s not good if you’re not getting the full support.
Also, keep an eye on the stitching because if your trainers get wet regularly, that can start to go.
When it comes to the mesh, you might be surprised to know that having a hole on the top or somewhere that’s not affecting the support or the comfort of the shoe isn’t necessarily a problem.
My shoes often use to go on the toes, but as long as I‘m still getting full support that doesn’t matter. However, if you do start to notice a hole where the upper joins the midsole on either side then that’s a sign it’s time to change your shoes.
The final and most common wear on the upper is actually the back of the shoe – the heel counter. Inside of the heel counter, there’s a plastic cup that’s designed to help prevent overpronation by preventing your foot from rolling inwards too much.
The heel counter is also designed just to cup your heel and hold your foot firmly in the shoe connecting it to the midsole.
If you can actually see this bit of plastic inside the heel counter already and you’ve not thrown your shoes away due to blisters or pain, please do so right now.
The midsole is the hardest part to notice but often the first to go. It’s also critical when it comes to wear as it’s designed to cushion the foot and act as a shock absorber. Therefore, it’s essential to look closely for signs of wrinkles or discoloration.
Like I said earlier, the midsole is usually made of EVA and it’s often white in color. So if you can start to see a discoloration going a yellowy-brown type color, then it’s a sign that the shock-absorbing properties are going to be compromised. The same goes if you see the development of fine horizontal lines
It’s a common misconception to think that you only need to look at the sole of your shoe to work out the wear. You’ll gather by now that that isn’t true but there’s still value in checking it.
The outsole of your shoe will usually have a black rubber that’s designed to protect the softer EVA midsole as well as providing some grip. You can easily detect your wear pattern just by looking.
If you can start to see the midsole coming through, then your shoes are definitely dead. Also, if you do require decent grip for the type of running you’re doing, keep an eye on that.
How to test?
It’s time to physically test your shoe to back up the visual signs of wear that you’ve already found. This first simple test is for the midsole.
Basically, you’re going to look at the midfoot and the heel as those are the areas that take the most amount of impact and therefore the cushioning is most likely to go there first.
- Step 1: compression
Try to squeeze through the midfoot and then the heel and you should feel a slight amount of give and then a bit of a push back as you let go. If it feels dead or there’s no return there at all, the cushioning is gone and you should throw your shoes out.
If you’re not quite sure how it should feel, then try and get ahold of a new pair of shoes and give them a feel for comparison.
- Step 2: fold
This shouldn’t be easy to do so just push the toe towards the heel. However, if your shoe just folds in half, it’s a good sign that the midsole is worn out.
- Step 3: twist
Next is the twist test. Motion control is vital in trainers as it controls your foot as it hits the ground. Therefore, you shouldn’t be able to twist your shoe.
Try to simply move the toe or the front of the shoe in a different direction to the heel and it shouldn’t move easily. If however, your trainer just wrings out with no problem at all, it’s a good sign the midsole is worn out.
With all of these tests, just remember to compare your running shoes as one can wear out more quickly than the other. If you’re still not sure, then go into your local sports shop and try and find a similar shoe to do the same test and then compare.
- Step 4: straight line
Finally, lightly draw a line or use some tape to go directly down the middle of the heel counter. Do this holding it so that you’re not distracted by the angle already.
Once you’ve done that on both shoes, place them on a table or a flat surface in front of you and have a look to see if the line is perpendicular.
If the line is off to one side or the other, then it’s a sure sign that the midsole is more compressed on one side than the other and that will then exacerbate any gait issues you might have and will lead to injury.
In summary, you need to check the wear of your shoes regularly. Get into the habit of trying to do this about once a month as a guide.
The basic tests you need to remember is the compression, the fold, and the twist as this will give you a good idea of the state of the shock-absorbing and support properties.
I know trainers aren’t cheap, but replacing them regularly will actually save you in the long term.
Throw out or recycle any old ones before you get injured as it will save you from time at missed training and money potentially spent on physiotherapy.
How To Lace Your Running Shoes
How many ways do you know to customize the fit of your running shoes? It turns out that there’s more than you might think just in lacing tricks alone.
Here are a few different ways to lace up your running shoes to help avoid common issues.
Runner’s Loop (prevent heel slippage)
To keep your heel from lifting, try the runner’s loop. Start by lacing your shoes normally up to the last eyelet, then instead of crossing the laces over, feed the lace directly through this eyelet to form a loop.
Cross the laces over and feed them down through the loops. Just pull the extra slack out of the loops and finish lacing like normal.
Windows Lacing (pressure points or high insteps)
If you’ve got an irritating pressure point on the top of your foot, you can try window lacing.
Unlace your shoe to the eyelet just below the pressure point. Release it but don’t cross the laces over the painful area. Just go straight for the one eyelet to the next, then cross the laces over and finish lacing like normal.
Reef Knot (better hold)
The knot you were taught as a kid is either a reef knot or a granny knot. However, they may look the same, but the difference is that a reef knot gets tighter as you run and a granny knot gets looser.
If your shoes keep coming untied, try this experiment. Take your shoe off, tie your regular knot and pull the sides of the shoe apart. If the loops skew to the side, you’ve got a granny knot and if they stay in place, that’s a reef knot.
Here are a few more lacing techniques
Wide forefoot lacing technique
Wide feet in general lacing technique
Narrow feet lacing technique
Too tight on top lacing technique
High midfoot lacing technique
Flat feet lacing technique
Toe pains lacing technique
Swollen feet lacing technique
Narrow heel + wide forefoot lacing technique
How to Break In New Running Shoes
A new pair of running shoes makes running far more fun. But before you hit the road, you’ve got to break them in. Breaking in new running shoes helps your body adjust to differences between your old shoes and the new one. This will help prevent sore feet, ankles, and legs and your body will thank you in the long run.
Here’s how to do it…
First, take your new shoes on a walk. It doesn’t matter if you’re walking around the block or around the house; you just want to get your feet used to them.
If you want to put a little extra stretch in your new shoes, pull out a couple pairs of thick socks while you’re doing these short walks.
Finally, show your new kicks some TLC with a shoe massage. Find the flex points on the rubber outsole and give them a few good bends at each flex point.
Really focus on the forefoot and don’t bend the arch. Be sure to do the same amount of reps on each shoe to keep them balanced.
Take things slow
Remember to take things slow so your feet and legs can adjust to the structure of your new shoes. Once you start running, try to keep your first few runs under six miles. Try to see if something’s rubbing, causing blisters, or causing chafing somewhere in your feet.
You can prevent that by wearing some socks, but try to avoid cotton socks which can cause blisters and chafing by holding in that moisture and that sweat.
How To Choose Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
If you’ve had it, you’ll know about it. Plantar Fasciitis is one of the more painful of running injuries as well as equally frustrating due to its typical slow healing. But avoiding it in the first place is obviously the best scenario.
The question you might be having is “can I run with Plantar Fasciitis?”. The answer is definitely YES.
The right running shoes should:
- provide enough support through the arch area.
- only bend at the toe box. If it bends all the way around, it’s going to cause you a lot of pain.
- not twist easily. If it does, it is going to put excessive strain on the plantar fascia ligament.
How To Choose Running Shoes for High Arches
People with high arches have a very distinctly different need than those who have flat feet in choosing the right running shoes.
You ideal running shoes should be:
- soft and cushiony but still supportive.
Check these 10 great running shoes for high arches.
Running Shoes for Flat Feet
Flat feet usually means that the arch has collapsed a little bit or a little too much. How are shoes trying to help a flat-footed person? Well, they’re designed to provide some level of cushioning for your fallen arches.
But how much arch support do you need? Well, you want a shoe that gives you enough support to have good mechanics but also not so much support that all of a sudden your feet aren’t working for you at all anymore.
Our foot acts as a natural little spring and shock absorber. It’s not the cushioning of the shoe that really does the job, it’s actually the arch of our feet.
When you run, your arch rolls in a little bit naturally, which helps the whole body absorb whatever shock we’re trying to do. If you run in some running shoes that provide too much support through the arch, you’re actually making the system very rigid and you’ll eventually run into problems.
Again, what you want is a shoe that has enough support so that you don’t collapse all the way, but not too much that makes the arch system so rigid that it’s actually going to cause other types of issues we see all the time.
We’ve actually reviewed 14 supportive running shoes for flat feet.
How To Choose Running Shoes for Top Of Foot Pain
Top of foot pain after running is really a very common foot problem in runners as a lot of people complain of a specific pain on the top of their foot.
We’ve reviewed some of the best running shoes for top-of-foot pain here.
How To Choose Running Shoes for Beginners
Thousands of people every year decide to try running as a form of exercise. Whether you’re running for fun, fitness, or just to relieve stress from a long day, finding the best running shoes for beginners is essential.
What makes a beginning shoe a good beginner shoe?
Well, your shoe has o be VERSATILE and has to be able to DO IT ALL. It can’t just be a racing shoe or a heavily cushioned shoe. In this case, less is always more.
How To Choose Running Shoes for Heavy Runners
I know it’s a bit frustrating when you’re a big guy to try and find a running shoe that works well. When you’re coming down with 3 or 400 pounds of force, a good running shoe should absorb a lot of that impact. This means that your ankles, your knees, your hips don’t have to take all that beating.
But bear in mind that being overweight doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go for the softest running shoes to absorb the impact.
- Super soft running shoes are unstable.
- Excessive midsole softness can cause your running shoes to kind of bottom out.
- Super-soft cushioning is less durable.
- Stability running shoes feature a softer outer sole and a firmer inner sole. As a result, your body mass will flow towards the least resisting side.
So, what should a heavy runner go for? Go for a shoe that can take your 200+ lb weight from start to finish without any issues. The secret sauce is ‘go for cushioned, yet supportive shoes’.
Do these exist? Absolutely. Here’s an article that reviewed the best running shoes for heavy runners.
How To Choose Running Shoes for Bad knees
Often times, the footwear you wear can alleviate knee pain especially when it comes to correcting gait mechanics and also offering shock absorption.
It’s believed that knee problems in runners tend to happen from a collapsed instep which in turn causes overpronation issues.
Knee pain is something that can seriously hamper your training or leave you completely sidelined. Here are some great running shoes for knee pain.
How To Choose Running Shoes for Bunions
Technically called Hallux Valgus, bunions can be painful when running. Go for wider and deeper running shoes because they don’t rub against the side of the bunions. There are some running shoes that even have a bunion window to give your bunions much room to spread.
Also, a good running shoe for bunions should have fewer overlays especially on the front of the upper, be as comfortable as possible, offer good arch support, and have stretchable qualities.
Last but not least, whenever a running shoe is available in wider sizes, grab it. Check out these great running shoes for bunions and hammertoes.
How To Choose Running Shoes for Shin Splints
Remember to replace your running shoes every 6 months or after 300 to 500 miles. If you could feel the materials are wearing down, the soles aren’t working as they should have, it’s a good sign you need some new running shoes.
Obviously, it stinks you have to spend a couple hundred bucks, but replacing your shoes will definitely help with your shin splints. Here are some good running shoes for shin splints.
How To Choose Running Shoes for Wide Feet
Most shoes come to a point at the front of the shoe, but that’s not the way they’re supposed to be if you are a wide footed runner. So consider getting a running shoe that features a wide toe box.
A wider toe box allows your foot to put even pressure across the different toes so that you can make sure that your knees are aligned whenever you’re running. Additionally, most shoes that compress your feet inward at the very tip end up taking the big toe out of the equation.
In reality, you need the big toe to stop yourself from pronating. If your toe is squished, then how are you ever able to balance yourself and make it so that your ankles don’t buckle in putting pressure on your knees?
That big toe is a valuable part of running and a valuable part of movement in general and making sure that you’re balanced. So make sure that you pay attention to whatever shoe you get and make sure that it has a wider toe box. Make sure you check these running shoes for wide feet.
How To Choose Running Shoes for Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles Tendonitis is not really a condition that plagues couch potatoes. It is common in people who exercise vigorously and continuously like runners. This happens frequently in marathon runners who start a new marathon training program and bump up their mileage. It’s also common in triathletes who progress from Olympic distance to Iron Man distance events.
Some running shoes are better for Achilles Tendonitis than others. You want to get a running shoe with an elevated heel to take the stress off of the Achilles tendon. These running shoes function as a heel lift that helps decrease the length to the Achilles tendon thus decreasing the strain on the Achilles.
Make sure you go to a really good running shoe store and ask them for a running shoe that doesn’t have a very high back or a deep heel cup because that means that it can rub and give irritation to the Achilles tendon itself.
If you already have a pair of running shoes that you’re in love with, go ahead and get a pair of heel lifts. Just shove them in the back of your shoes. These will elevate you just enough to shorten up the Achilles tendon and take away the irritation.
How To Choose Running Shoes for Morton’s Neuroma
Morton’s Neuroma can be confused with a couple of different things like Metatarsalgia which is just really kind of inflammation along the metatarsal head.
With Morton’s Neuroma, you’re going to feel pain very specifically in one spot and that’s a pinched nerve. So essentially what’s happening is the nerve runs in between the metatarsal bones and the bones are pinching that nerve and that’s causing a lot of pain. Usually, it feels like if there’s a rock or a pebble stuck in your shoe.
The number one thing to do is look for a shoe with a wide forefoot so your toes get spread out as much as possible. That’s going to put less pressure on the metatarsal heads and specifically that nerve that’s causing the discomfort. The good news is we’ve reviewed some really nice running shoes for Morton’s Neuroma.
Running Shoes for Metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain)
Metatarsalgia is a general term used to describe pain or inflammation in the ball of the foot area. Our heels and the balls of our feet impact the ground repetitively and for some people that can cause stress in the ball of the foot area.
You want to look for running shoes that are super cushiony to keep your metatarsals as comfortable as possible. Also, good running shoes should offer plenty of arch support to hold up the arch area, equalize pressure across the foot, and reduce the stress on the ball of your foot.
We’ve done some research and reviewed some of the best running shoes for Metatarsalgia.
How To Choose Running Shoes for the Treadmill
Let me make this clear, running outside is far better than running indoors. It’s less boring outside and you get to change the scenery every time you choose to.
However, the treadmill is still a decent choice if it’s heavily raining outside, snowing, etc. For whatever reason you have, I’m happy to tell you there are some decent running shoes that can do the job.
A good running shoe for the treadmill should:
- Be stable and grip well.
- Be flexible and supportive.
- Be lightweight.
- Be cushioned but a bit firmer.
- Have flat laces because these stay tied while round laces can go untied and cause accidents.
What to Look for in Running Socks
Running socks might not be the most important thing for a runner, but they’re in the top 2. After shoes, go for socks because the right pair of running socks can help you avoid a number of problems like retaining moisture, blisters, foot fatigue or temperature.
The best running socks are comfortable. So look for a high thread count with cushioning on the heel and ball of the foot. A seamless toe will help you avoid friction while a higher heel tap will help the Achilles area.
Next, look for a sock with arch support so that your socks stay in place while preventing foot fatigue.
Finally, remember this: “cotton is rotten”. A little cotton content is okay but look for a sock with mostly synthetic moisture-wicking materials to keep your feet drier and reduce your chances of developing blisters.
Adding the right running sock to your equipment can set yourself up for a newfound success on your run.
- When you’re going to a running shop it’s quite a good idea to take your old pair of running shoes with you.
- Take your socks with you.
- Go with plenty of time and don’t rush the trying-on process.
- Try on at least another couple of pairs because you really do need that comparison.
- Don’t be pressured to buy at the store.
- Do your research, speak to your coach or physio, speak to specialists and try and work out what brand is best suited to your foot.
- Good running shoes aren’t cheap. So, don’t scrimp because your feet and your body do need looking after.
- Once you’ve bought your running shoes, label when you bought them and record how many miles you’re running in them so you know when they need replacing.