Selecting the Right Running Shoe

by John Hopple - Date: 2007-01-05 - Word Count: 861 Share This!

When buying running shoes there are literally hundreds of shoes to choose from. Running shoes are used to protect your feet from the roads and to absorb the tremendous shock the feet will take. Since every runner is unique in how many miles they run and there individual running style, there is not one perfect running shoe. The best shoe for you depends on the shape of your foot, your biomechanics and the type of cushioning you want.

The first thing you should focus on is the foot. Start by standing up and putting your weight evenly on both feet. Focus on the arches and see if they almost touch the floor. If they do, you have low arches. Runners that have this condition are usually over pronating, or their foot rolls to the inside. If you have a high arch you have the opposite condition called supination. This is when the foot rolls to the outside. If your arch is in the middle you are considered a neutral runner.

If you have trouble determining if your arch is high, low or neutral you can also try the next method. Take an old pair of running shoes and look at the wear pattern on the forefoot. If it is worn on the outside of the shoe you supinate. If the wear pattern is on the inside of the shoe you are a pronator. If the wear is even across the forefoot you foot is neutral.

For most people who pronate they tend to need a shoe that has more stability. A stability shoe has a heel counter and a medial EVA post. A heel counter is simply a piece of the shoe that wraps around the heel. It prevents excess movement. A medial post is positioned on the inside of the shoe's midsole. Most shoe manufactures make the post a contrasting color. This hard foam takes more stress to compress and limit's the pronation motion. Make sure the EVA post is not too hard because you want some movement in the foot.

Runners that supinate do not need a stability shoe with the heel counter and the medial post. If they choose a shoe with these stability features they could injure themselves by putting the foot in a stressful position. If you are a neutral runner then you can have a little of both types of shoes. Remember though; do not get carried away with having to much or not enough stability.

After determining what stability features you need the next thing to do is look at cushioning technology. Every time you land you are putting 2.5 to 3 times your body weight on the foot. So it is important to have the proper cushioning. Every brand has there own way of approaching this. The midsole of the shoe contain the foam stuff that absorbs the shock when the foot strikes the road. The midsole also provide the rebound properties to help the foot take off into its next stage of the running movement.

Midsoles are made out of two types of materials. The first is EVA foam. It is made up of thousands of foam cells that contain air or gas. When you land on your foot these gases are pushed out and sucked back in. Over time these cells don't rebound as well and lose its cushioning. The EVA sole is used by most shoe manufactures because it is light and great for cushioning. The downside is that it loses its cushioning faster. The second type of midsole is made out of polyurethane. It has a stronger cell wall and takes longer to wear out. The polyurethane midsole is much heavier and does not give as much back to the runners stride.

When determining how long a running shoe is good for there is not one answer. Each person is different not only by the size of the runner but how hard does the runner impact the ground. One thing a runner can do to give them an idea of when to get a new pair is to look at the bottom of their shoes and see if the black sole is running thin. If so it is time to get a new pair. Another way to determine if you need a new pair of shoes is the feel of your body. If your feet and legs are sore or you feel less bounce in your step this may be an indication that you need new shoes. I usually run about 500 miles in my shoes before it is time to get a new pair. Through my years of training and knowing my body quite well this is about the time my legs feel a little tired.

When determining the right shoe for you do not go with the latest fad and the most expensive shoe. Pick a shoe that is going to fit your needs. The best place to find this out is by going to your local running store. These local stores have trained professionals and are usually runners themselves. The customer service is excellent and they always are up to date with the latest technology. I hope this article helps you and keep running.

Related Tags: running shoes, buying running shoes, best running shoes

John Hopple is the owner of Justrunners, a website that sells 5' x 2.5' cloth posters of distance runners such as Steve Prefontaine. To purchase a poster visit us at, and make sure to check out the rest of the site, as well.

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