Whether you are a seasoned marathoner with running experience; searching for the right pair of trail shoes for a hike; or simply purchasing your first pair of running shoes with no idea what constitutes a good shoe – knowing how to pick the right running shoes is essential. New running shoes can make running more enjoyable, help prevent injuries, and make it easier to complete a long distance. The best pair of running shoes will fit you from the beginning and compliment your running technique perfectly. There are various factors that should be taken into consideration when deciding on the right running shoe for your unique circumstance. These factors include gait cycle and running style, running surface, and features such as insoles, heel and forefoot cushioning.
This blog will outline and further explain how to pick the right running shoes:
- What surface are you running on?
- Gait analysis
- Are you wearing insoles?
- What socks are you running in?
- What distances are you running?
- Types of running shoes
What surface are you running on?
Choosing running shoes based on the surface you will run on most frequently is important to minimise injury and optimise your running performance. There are two broad categories of running shoes – road running shoes and trail running shoes. Trail shoes tend to have better grip and tread on the sole, whereas road shoes are the best shoe for flat terrain.
In contrast to softer surfaces, running on roads can place additional strain on our knees, ankles, and other weight-bearing joints. Because of this, road running shoes typically bear shock absorption and other support features to prevent injury.
Trail shoes are a more cushioned shoe, designed for unpredictable terrain and provide grip, traction, and flexibility for your feet. The upper part of trail running shoes are usually made of a sturdy and durable material to protect your feet against rocks, gravel, and uneven surfaces.
In podiatry, a running gait analysis is performed as part of a biomechanical assessment. By identifying and improving your biomechanics, a podiatrist can help you to choose the perfect pair of running shoes for your running style, foot type, and foot shape.
Using highly effective gait analysis software and a treadmill to observe your unique walking and running pattern, a podiatrist can assess your basic pronation and where your foot strikes the ground. The amount you pronate describes the extent to which your foot rolls inward when you run. By taking your running gait into consideration, you can choose shoes that offer the suitable stability and motion control for you.
Are you wearing insoles?
If you already wear insoles, it is important to bring them with you when picking running shoes as they can alter the fit and feel of your footwear. If you have never tried insoles, you may consider visiting a podiatrist to see if they would benefit you.
The primary purpose of insoles is to make shoes more comfortable to wear, however they can also provide added arch support and improved heel cushioning. Insoles in running shoes can also prevent injuries, jerks, low back pain, and stiffness.
What socks are you running in?
The socks you wear whilst running can impact the fit and feel of your shoes. You should always try on running shoes with the socks you intend to wear when exercising. A good technical running sock can provide added arch support and thick padding for your feet.
It is important to avoid socks that are lower than the back of your running shoes as these can slip down during your run and cause friction on the back of your Achilles tendon. Cotton socks can also cause friction when running, as well as retain moisture and heat, making you more susceptible to blisters and calluses.
What distances are you running?
There are different types of shoes for short and long distance running. Long distance running requires more cushioned shoes whereas short distance running shoes should be more flexible.
According to Runner’s World some of the best running shoe brands are:
Types of running shoes
There are three common types of support and cushioning available in a traditional running shoe.
Stability running shoes are beneficial for runners whose feet roll inward or outward as they move. People with flat feet tend to need more stability from their running shoes.
If your foot rolls inward or outward when running, it is important to consider this factor when you are choosing the best running shoes. Stability shoes have medial posts, varying foam densities, and other technology to guide your flat foot along a more neutral path of motion and take strain away from weight bearing joints such as the knees and hips.
Runners with a heavy foot strike or heel strike can greatly benefit from cushioned shoes.
Cushioned shoes are suitable for all levels of runners and assist in the delivery of a soft ride and smooth transitions. Running in a cushioned shoe can aid in recovery, provide more comfort, and reduce pressure placed on your feet. Many cushioned running shoes feature adaptable foam technologies designed to contour to the pressure points of your foot and provide optimal comfort.
Neutral runners evenly distribute weight down the centre of their foot and tend to have medium-height arches.
If your old shoes typically become worn on the ball of the foot and heel, you may want to consider purchasing a neutral shoe. Neutral running shoes do not include the added support of stability shoes, but rather, neutral shoes focus on shock absorption to help you run long distances more comfortably.
About AHP Podiatry
With our team of specialist clinicians, we specialise in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of foot and lower limb complaints sustained during everyday life. Our vision is focused around providing ethical, evidence-based care and ensuring the best outcomes for all our patients.
Our friendly and professional staff will perform a thorough assessment of your needs. In conjunction with your goals and specific needs, we will create, implement, and manage an individualized treatment plan to improve your quality of life. Our clinicians are the heart of our centres and have been chosen for their exceptional clinical skills, high level of professionalism, and client-focused outlook.
All our clinicians hold current and full registration with AHPRA and have undergone a full NDIS police check.
Looking for further advice on how to pick the right running shoes?
Contact our friendly team today 1800 111 247 or visit our website to schedule an appointment with one of our expert podiatrists.