Now, there are running shoes for just about every type of runner and with every different foot type. Browsing a running shoe store without some guidance could make your head spin. Besides all of the neon colors and different brands to sort through, there is a whole new vocabulary to learn. In this blog we will try to sift through some of the hype and help you make a more educated choice.
All runners are not created equal and that is why there is not just one shoe for everyone. To start you need to know a little bit about yourself first.
Starting with foot type: Are you Flat footed, or an "Over Pronator?" High arched or a "Supinator?" or " Under Pronator," which is basically neutral.
Pronation is the foot's natural inward roll following a heel strike. Basic (neutral) pronation helps absorb impact, relieving pressure on knees and joints. It is a normal trait of neutral, biomechanically efficient runners
If your footprint shows the entire sole of your foot with little to no curve on the inside -- or if your shoes show the most wear on the inside edge -- it means you've got low arches or flat feet and tend toward overpronation -- meaning your feet roll inward. If the footprint shows only a portion of your forefoot and heel with a narrow connection between the two -- or if your shoes wear out mostly on the outside edge -- you have high arches and tend to underpronate), meaning your feet roll outward.
At many specialty running stores there are scanners to assess your arch and some well-trained sales people can assess your foot type for you. Or you can consult a podiatrist if you want a more detailed biomechanical assessment or have pain or a history of problems with your feet.
Now on to the shoes. There is so much information out there about which running shoe you should buy. There is even kind of a war happening between those who support a traditional thick soled running shoe and those who back minimalist shoes.
Minimalist shoes have gained in popularity since Christopher McDougall’s 2009 book Born to Run. To break this whole ideology down super simply; the theory behind minimalist running is to allow the foot to perform in the most natural state without the interference of shoes. The book sparked a departure from the traditional running shoe that offered a thick soled heel allowing for an initial heel strike. Minimal shoes are light weight, “minimal drop” referring to the lack of difference between the height of the heel and the rest of the shoe. Traditional running shoes have a 12mm to 16mm drop where minimal shoes will have about a 4mm drop.
Personally I have not run in minimalist shoes. I live in NYC so I primarily run on asphalt. I have a pretty neutral shoe and have downgraded from my previous more bulky shoe. But with running on asphalt day in and day out I still believe in having some cushion between me and the road.
Stability shoes are usually recommended to over pronators and have significant cushioning and have a post to help control your foot during motion and prevent excessive inward rolling that is common in over pronators or those with flat feet.
Neutral running shoes are those that offer a level of cushioning without the additional padding in the stability shoes that control motion. This are good for those with a normal to slightly high arch.
Minimal shoes are super light and do not have any of the chunky padding in the midsole. Those that adapt to the minimalist view believe that they prevent injury by allowing a foot to move in a more natural way.
Here is a quick outline of the anatomy of a running shoe this may help deceiver all of the words thrown at you while shopping.
An experience sales person should be asking these questions. If they aren’t, chances are you are not in a specialty running shop and perhaps should seek out another store.
Outside magazine "you don't know how to run" Andrew Tilin ( I don't know the issue because I tore it out)
Anatomy of a Running Shoe p54 New York Runner spring 2013
Summer Shoe Guide. Runners World June 2013