How to choose a running shoe

how to choose a running shoe

So many options, what’s a girl to do?

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?

 

flat

 

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).

 

normal

 

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.

 

high

 

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

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.

New Balance 1340v2 motion control shoe

New Balance 1340v2 motion control shoe. Note the rigid sole.

They are also the best shoes for supinators, because they will encourage your foot to roll in a little more.

 

Stability

Stability shoes provide arch support, so they are good for moderate overpronators.

 

Motion Control

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,

Em

 

Images: 1 by Elvert Barnes, CC 2.0,https://flic.kr/p/bMrgR2

4 comments

  • This was a great beginners guide to buying a running shoe. Excellent advice, and I really liked your newspaper test. I have no idea how to approach buying this kind of shoe, and i usually end up unhappy with my choice. I’ll be reading this again when I buy my next pair!

    • Em likes running

      Thank you Krysten, glad I could help :)
      There’s nothing worse than being unhappy with your shoe choice. We’ll be doing regular reviews of all the different shoes out there, so watch this space!

  • Hi Em a very cute informative website, I need some shoes to buy so your recommendations are wonderful..I will revisit please provide some shoes so I can buy I love Asics?

    Best to you Em

    Grant

    • Em likes running

      Hi Grant,
      Thanks for stopping by :)
      Yep, lots more shoe reviews in the pipeline, and Asics will probably be next, actually! I’ve got a pair of Asics as my road shoes at the moment, and they’re pretty freakin’ awesome.

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