How to choose a running shoe
Are you wearing the right running shoe? How can you tell? What are the best running shoes for women, anyway?
Having the right shoe is pretty darn important to a runner: when you run, your foot hits the ground with a force that’s around 2-3 times your body weight. If you have the wrong shoe, you could be setting yourself up for discomfort at the best, and injury at the worst.
Let me give you a quick walk-through of how to choose a running shoe.
What’s different about a women’s running shoe?
- Women tend to be a lighter body weight than men, so our running shoes will also be lighter to reflect this.
- Our hips are wider than men’s, which means the way we move is different. A women’s shoe allows for this.
- This was a new one for me, but apparently we’re more prone to bunions (oh, glamour), and this is exacerbated by our love of wearing heels. So the toe box of a women’s shoe will have different construction.
Get to know your feet
The newspaper test
You need to know what the arches of your feet are like, because this is a factor in choosing how much support you need from a shoe. Lay a piece of newspaper on the ground, wet your foot, then stand on the newspaper. What does your footprint look like?
If you can see most of your foot, you probably have a flat arch. This means that your foot is likely to overpronate (your foot will collapse inwards after your foot hits the ground).
This is the most common foot type, where about 1/2 the arch can be seen. Your foot should behave pretty well in most shoes.
If your arch pretty much disappears, you have high arches. This means your foot is likely to supinate (your feet won’t roll enough and won’t absorb shock as well)
Look at your old shoes
What’s the wear pattern like on the soles of some well-worn shoes?
- if you’re an overpronator, the inside of the sole will probably be worn down the most.
- if you have a normal arch, the wear should be pretty even.
- if you’re a supinator, the outside of the sole will be worn down the most.
Intro to shoe types
Now you know your feet a bit better, let’s find out which shoe might be best for you.
These are the three most common types of running shoes. I’m just talking about regular running shoes here, trail shoes and racing flats are different again!
Neutral shoes are pretty much that. They still have cushioning in the bottom, but it’s not beefed up in any particular area to control your foot strike. These are the best shoes for those with normal arches.
They are also the best shoes for supinators, because they will encourage your foot to roll in a little more.
Stability shoes provide arch support, so they are good for moderate overpronators.
These shoes are similar to a stability shoe, in that they are designed to correct overpronation. They are more rigid than a stability shoe so are best for those that are severe overpronators or are of a heavier build.
Where to get help
Now I am not a phsyiotherapist, or a shoe fitting expert. If you feel like you need a bit more help with choosing the right shoe, you have a couple of options.
- head to your local running shoe specialist. They will be able to analyze your foot for you and make recommendations.
- check out a specialist running shoe site (I think the Brooks site is pretty cool myself). Quite a few have guides to help you choose a shoe based on more complex factors than we have covered here, like how much you run, your weight, etc.
So get out there, and get yourself into the right shoes!
Your running buddy,
Images: 1 by Elvert Barnes, CC 2.0,https://flic.kr/p/bMrgR2