How To Pick The Best Running Shoes For You (Expert Tips)
What are some of the things to bear in mind when it comes to selecting the best running shoes to support your goals?
Running is a great form of exercise that can be performed pretty much anywhere without any specialist equipment.
But the one thing you will need is a good pair of running shoes to support your goals.
Whether you’re just getting into running or have been doing it for some time, having a good pair of shoes and replacing them regularly is key to your success.
We’re all made differently, so picking a shoe that suits you personally is important.
So, how do you go about selecting the best running shoes for you?
We asked a select group of experts for their top tips when it comes to picking the best running shoes.
Here is what they said.
Ensure Your Running Shoes Are Wide Enough For Your Feet
Jake Harcoff, Certified Kinesiologist and Head Coach at AIM Athletic
My biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone who is looking for the best running shoes is to forget about brand name or style preferences, and choose a shoe that fits their individual foot properly.
As a kinesiologist and strength and conditioning coach, I work with many runners, and athletes, who have suffered with chronic foot pain related injuries like Plantar Fasciitis.
In the past, Plantar Fasciitis pain was thought to be a result of inflammation and damage to the soft-tissue on the bottom of the foot between the ball of the foot and heel, due to an over-tight Achilles tendon.
Newer research, however, is beginning to discover that the pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis is more likely due to chronic lateral compression of foot, typically from shoes with too narrow of a toe box.
When the foot is squeezed into a shoe that is too narrow, the toes are compressed medially, which causes over-stretching of the Abductor Hallucis muscle, which connects the big toe to the heel of the foot, eventually causing pain over time.
A quick tip to easily find out if your shoes are too narrow for your foot, not only for running, but also in general, is to take your insole out and put it on the floor.
Step onto the insole with the corresponding foot and shift your weight to the ball of your foot. If your foot expands over the sides of the insole, that is a good indication that the shoe is too narrow for your foot.
Make sure to repeat the assessment with your other foot as well, as it’s possible for you to have different foot-widths on either side. In this case, I would make sure to get a shoe that fits the wider foot.
Analyse Your Running Stride Before Choosing Your Shoes
Amanda Foland, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and Swiftwick athlete
There are many factors when looking for the right shoe. No one is aligned the same, and no one has the same stride, so if you’re looking for a shoe your best bud has, think again.
As a stride analysis, I look for each individual to have the support from a shoe that their body does not give them.
When standing barefoot take a look in the mirror as to what your foot does. Some people pronate (inward movement), others supinate (outward movement) and then there are heel strikers versus toe runners.
Many people will dispute what is considered the best running form – for me, it comes down to what makes you the best runner with your stride… and that is where the perfect shoe comes in.
When we break it down to shoes, my suggestion is to put on a pair of supportive Swiftwick socks, and a pair of shoes that support your foot/ankle and all the way up to your hip.
Despite your imbalances from the ankle up, the proper shoe will give you support to run.
If you are unable to go into a physical store, take note of what your foot does with no support and even simply searching online for “best running shoes for supination” will give you options.
In regards to using search engines, be mindful of taking information from a neutral site and be sure you’re not getting a biased opinion from a dealer/wholesaler.
Most stores/sites will allow runners to take 30 days to run in their shoes. This will gives you many opportunities to feel out your shoe. If you have knee pain, hip tightness but you have run a proper protocol it may be time to try another shoe.
The Best Running Shoes Depend On Your Feet
Dr. Sophia Solomon DPM, Board Certified Podiatrist
If you have a high arch go for something with a slightly elevated heel. A small heel elevation puts the foot in a position to optimize upward extension of the ankle, which is very important during running.
If you have a flatter foot, going with a stiffer, wider shoe may be optimal to control over-pronation.
If you suffer from Achilles tendinitis try a shoe that is rounded at the bottom (AKA: a rocker bottom). This decreases stress on the ankle and pushes our body over our feet during hair. The Hoka One One is a great option.
Find Out As Much As You Can About Your Running Gait Before Choosing The Right Shoe
Brett Durney, Personal Trainer and Co-Founder of Fitness Lab
Having worked with specialists in the podiatry and sports doctor fields over the years, I have learned the importance of selecting the right shoes for your body.
If I were to have to choose shopping online as opposed to going in person and completing a podiatry assessment (which most running shops provide for free these days) I would revert to trying to understand as much about my own running gait as possible before making a decision.
What I would then do is read up as much as possible on the shoes available, join running community groups and ask as many questions as possible to focus in on making the most optimal choice.
I’d also try to get on the phone with a number of stores to find out as much info about the shoes as possible.
In short, I’m a massive believer in selecting the right shoes for your own personal gait. Because this is such a personalised decision, I would always opt to go in person as opposed to online so you can have a gait analysis first.
Additionally, take the time to understand the type of running that you are going to complete.
If, for example, you are going to be doing long, slow-duration running in urban environments, your shoe choice will likely be very different if compared to running Trail style in the countryside or the mountains.
Take some time to learn and read about the different shoe options you have and also learn about gait analysis as much as you possibly can as well.
Sometimes, also thinking about the general levels of tightness you have around your hips, calves and other areas of your body can determine the type of shoes that you may want to choose.
Think About What Surface You’ll Be Running On
James Bickerstaff, Personal Trainer at OriGym Centre of Excellence
Before purchasing running shoes, you should think about where you will be running and what surfaces you’ll be running on.
Shoes for the gym will greatly differ from those designed for the likes of trail running or road running. Whilst these shoes may look similar, they all serve a unique purpose that will be beneficial for your chosen sport.
For example, trail running shoes are typically much heavier than regular running trainers – this is done to provide the ankle with more support on uneven terrains. They are also designed with durable soles with rough threads, in order to protect the wearer from the likes of rocks and branches.
At OriGym, we advise that clients figure out what type of arch they have prior to purchasing any kind of footwear.
The easiest way to discover this information is through a process called a ‘Wet Test’, which involves pressing your wet foot onto a piece of paper.
You have a normal arch if there is a distinct curve along the side of your foot, with a band less than half the width of your foot connecting your heel and toe.
You have a low arch if your foot shows no distinct curve on the inside of your foot.
And you have a high arch if the curve of your foot is very noticeable, with a very thin band connecting your heel and toe.
By knowing what kind of foot type you have, you will be able to shop accordingly and provide your soles with the correct cushioning.
If you’re shopping online, the best thing we can recommend is knowing how much support your feet require whilst running.
This requires knowing your running ‘pronation’ – the natural way your foot rolls when it strikes the ground.
There are three different types of pronation (supination, neutral and over-pronation), and you’ll want to purchase shoes which specifically support your pronation level. Brands will have different pronation technology for their footwear, so look for the one that best suits you.