When people came to running shoe store I used to work in, the most commonly asked question was “what shoe would you suggest I wear?” How to choose running shoes is definitely hard. The question is loaded because there is so much I don’t know about the person.
Here are some questions I usually ask a person asking about what shoe I would suggest for them:
What activities are you intending on using them for?
The first question is obvious; you want to know what you are using your shoes for. If you are walking really any shoe can do as long as it feels comfortable. Some walkers do need some special needs and so they can follow some of the next questions.
If you’re doing activities that are multi-directional sports, shoes have been designed with wide sole to prevent the person from turning their ankle. They also have created shoes for specific sports such as soccer, football, and baseball for better traction.
Runners are unidirectional athletes who primarily are moving in a straight forward direction. These shoes have been designed to reduce weight, guide the foot from heel strike to toe off, and provide specified support depending on pronation levels.
You can also find minimalist shoes and racing spikes to cater to the different needs of the runner.
Determine Your Arch Type
Determining the arch of your foot and whether you pronate or not is important in choosing your shoes. Certain shoes like the ASICS 2100 series were designed with extra dense mid sole material under the arch to create support, preventing pronation. If you do not pronate there are shoes that lack this arch support feature.
I covered in another post discussing whether pronation is something really to be concerned about. This drives the need for the next few questions. This is where choosing a shoe gets a little trickier.
Understand Your History
I have had in the past clients come into the store with a note from their podiatrist prescribing a certain pair of shoes which has taken the load off of me, but most do not. I must get to the bottom of the runners history.
It is highly important that we don’t change things that have worked in the past, and to understand what changes need to be made to reduce risk for injury.
If changes to your choices in running shoes need to be made, then understanding injury history and what could be causing it would definitely help determine the shoe. Most likely it may not be pronation, but could have been changes in training, strength imbalances in muscles, or running form that could be causing the issues.
Minimalist shoes are usually good to help promote a forefoot type running form to allow the body to use its natural built in shock system to reduce impact stresses on the body. This does not work for everyone though, If it doesn’t do not worry there is a wide variety of shoes to cater to your needs.
Change It Up
To help prevent injury try to mix up your training shoes. Pick a couple of shoes that are similar but different brands or even types of shoes to rotate for different runs throughout the week. A good example of this is having a minimalist shoe such as the Inov 8 f-lite 195 for those medium to fast paced runs and the Hoka One-One (which has maximum cushion) for those recovery runs.
In my years of running, I have found that there are so many different kinds of shoes to match the needs of the many different foot types. Finding your match is sometimes a guessing game and sometimes done by trial and error.
What I hope you have received from this information, and my intent for this website, is that you may gain enough knowledge to apply to yourself to make well informed decisions on choosing your shoes. This will definitely make finding what works and what doesn’t a lot easier and quicker, allowing you to stay more consistent with your training to improve your times!
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