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A Guide to Buying Running Shoes

Sudip Paul Oct 22, 2019
Whether you are training for an upcoming race or simply trying to get fit, if you are going to be doing a lot of running, buying high-quality shoes is essential. Selecting a pair of running shoes isn't as straightforward as it might seem. There are a lot of factors that you need to consider.

Styles of Running Shoes

Running shoes come in three basic styles, including motion control, stability, and neutral. The performance of each type of shoe varies, which is why they are suitable for different types of running.

Motion Control Shoes

Overpronation occurs when a runner's feet roll inward when they strike the ground. Motion control running shoes are the best choice for people who experience severe overpronation. They help counteract this problem by incorporating relatively flat outsoles.
Inside the shoe, there is also extra support. This helps provide stability for the feet, minimizing the risk of overpronation. These are also good shoes for Plantar fasciitis.

Stability Shoes

In cases where overpronation is relatively mild, stability shoes are a good choice. The shoes work well for people with flat feet or low arches. The midsole of the shoe features extra cushioning. When the runner's foot strikes the ground, shoes like these are designed to evenly distribute the shock, which can reduce problems with overpronation.

Neutral Shoes

Neutral shoes are the best choice for runners with normal to high arches. People who have high arches often experience a condition known as supination. This is essentially the opposite of overpronation. Neutral shoes are designed to absorb the impact caused by the foot hitting the ground. They also have a lot of cushioning around the midsole of the shoe.
Deciding which type of shoe to buy isn't always easy. Some of the factors that come into play include your gait, how high or low your arches are, and the shoes' tread.

Determining Your Type of Arch

Identifying whether you have high, medium, or low arches is the first thing that you need to do before you start shopping for running shoes. The easiest way to tell is by performing these simple actions:
  • Lay a blank piece of paper on the floor.
  • Get your feet wet and step onto the paper.
  • Lift your foot straight up off of the paper. Now, look at the footprint that is left behind. The shape of the footprint will tell you a lot about your arches.

Flat or Low Arches

If you have low arches or flat feet, the footprint that is left behind on the paper won't curve in very much on the inner portion of the foot. Instead, you should be able to almost see the whole sole of your foot. If you have this type of arch, over-pronation may be a problem when you are running.

Medium Arches

When looking at footprints left behind by feet with medium arches, you will see a clear imprint of the front of the foot and the heel of the foot. Connecting these two areas, there will be a thick band that runs down the outer edge of the foot. Arches like these are moderately flexible.

High Arches

With high arches, the front of the foot in the heel will be clearly visible in the footprint. Connecting them on the outer edge of the foot, there will be a thin band. People with high arches often have problems with shock absorption. Opting for neutral shoes that have a lot of extra padding could be a good choice if your feet fall into this category.

Evaluating Your Gait

The term "gait" refers to how your feet contact and leave the ground when you are running. As you move, your gait affects which portions of your feet come in contact with the ground. That is why gait plays a key role in choosing the right running shoes.

– The three basic gait styles include:

Neutral Gait

If you have a neutral gait, your foot hits the ground heel first. From there, your foot naturally rolls a little bit toward the inside to help lessen the impact. However, it generally is relatively mild. After your foot rolls, it pushes away from the ground with even pressure, finishing the step. Neutral shoes the best choice for people.

Overpronation Gait

If the overpronation is a problem, your foot will roll dramatically toward the inside after your heel contacts the ground. This can negatively impact your stability and can reduce your body's ability to absorb shock. Motion control or stability shoes are the best choices for people who tend to overpronate.

Supination Gait

The foot of a runner with a supination gait hits the ground first. Instead of rolling toward the inside, the heel stays rotated toward the outer part of your foot. As a result, all of the shocks are concentrated in a relatively small area on the outer edge of your foot. Neutral shoes with extra cushioning are the best choice for runners this type of gait.
If you are having trouble determining what type of gait you have, the experts at DICK'S Sporting Goods can help. They will evaluate your gait for free so that you can find shoes that properly support your feet.

Evaluating the Wear on Your Tread

One trick you can use to identify your gait is to look at the bottoms of an old pair of running shoes or sneakers. The way the tread has worn on the bottom of the shoes can give you some clues as to your gait style.
  • Neutral Gait - The area under the heel and the ball of the foot have worn evenly.
  • Overpronation Gait - Most of the wear is located on the inner portion of the shoe.
  • Supination Gait - Most of the wear is located on the outer edge of the shoe.

Running Conditions

Where you run also plays a role in determining what type of running shoes you should buy.

 Standard Running Shoes: Shoes like these work best in areas that are paved or for running indoors. You can also use them on hard-packed trails. These lightweight shoes are designed to be flexible.
– Trail Running Shoes: Shoes that are designed for trail running have better tread to provide additional traction on uneven surfaces. The outsole is made out of thick rubber to help protect your feet.
Choosing the right running shoes can make a big difference in how enjoyable it is for you to run. To get even more out of your gear, pair your shoes with high-quality socks and other running-specific accessories.