Running shoe advice
Running shoes are the most important piece of equipment that a runners has. They help prevent injury and they may help the running gait be more efficient. The running shoe market is huge and most of the running shoe companies make significant investment into the technology and science of running shoes.
If you are a primary pronator then anti pronatory shoes are a good option however if your feet are not particularly flat then go for a neutral shoe.
Different running shoes for differing foot types
When purchasing running shoes it is very important to know what biomechanical foot type you have.
The two main foot types are discussed in more detail on our biomechanics page. However to summarise, the majority of people are either an over pronator or have a neutral/under pronated foot type.
The best way to ascertain which category you fall into is to have a look at the videos below at the two different running styles. Athletes are very astute when it comes to how they run. The chances are you will recognise which category you fall into.
Take a few minutes to establish your foot type by looking at the videos below.
Now have a look at your foot in the mirror, preferably when standing on one leg as this mimics the single phase support that occurs when running.
If your foot looks like the image on the right, then you are an over pronator. Note the arch is lowered (flattening or fallen). Also look at the position of the ankles in the lower picture. They bow inwards. This causes excessive shoe wear on the outside edge of the heel.
If your foot looks like the one on the left then you have a more neutral/under pronating foot type. Note there is a nice defined arch. The ankles will have a more neutral appearance or bow out slightly.
I am an over pronator. What shoes do i need?
The primary cause of injury in the over pronator is due to excessive movement around the ankle, subtalar and midtarsal joints within the foot during the gait cycle. As a runners heel strikes the ground, the forces recorded going through the foot and ankle are huge. Therefore any unwanted movement can cause problems. The most common injuries that can affect over pronators caused by poor biomechanics are;
Perhaps the single best thing that an over pronator can do to help themselves is to purchase an anti pronatory (motion control) sports shoe. This type of trainer has been developed by the leading manufacturers to reduce the amount of unwanted movement at heel strike & mid stance phases of gait, thus reducing the chances of injury. Dependent on the shoe, this is achieved by providing rigidity in areas where unwanted forces occur and using shock absorbing materials around the heel.
I have a neutral/ under pronating foot type. What shoes do i need?
Athletes with a neutral/ under pronated foot type will usually suffer less injury than over pronators. However lack of shock absorbency and early heel lift in the gait cycle can cause injuries such as; Calf strain Plantar calcaneal bursitis Bone shin splints Calf strain ITB syndrome Hamstring strain Footwear manufacturers are aware of the problems associated with this foot type and build their shoes with extra shock absorbing properties and a slightly higher heel. Under pronators (supinators) DON’T need special trainers like over pronators. However shoes with extra shock absorbency are a very important asset for the under pronator. Below are a selection of some of the best shock absorbing running shoes on the market.
If you know your shoe size shop online. Prices are up to 60% less than high street stores.
The anatomy of a running shoe
Running shoes have become more complicated over the years, but still consist of some basic components:
This is the treaded layer on the undersurface of the shoe, usually made from carbon rubber or similar material. It resists wears and provides traction. It may also have a studded or waffle design to enhance traction on softer surfaces.
The mid sole:
This is considered the most important part of running shoes as it is the cushioning and stability layer between the upper and the outsole. The most common materials for the mid sole of running shoes is ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyurethane (PU) or a combination of the two. Often there is a dual-density mid sole that has a firmer material on the inner side (medial side) to help limit pronation (rolling in) of the foot. A lot of proprietary technologies developed by different manufacturers go into the mid soles of running shoes (eg air, gel and high-tech plastics materials).
This is the part of the shoe that wraps around and over the top of the foot. It may be made of leather or a synthetic material that is lighter and breathable (to reduce heat from inside the running shoe). The tongue of the upper should be padded to cushion the top of the foot against the pressure from the laces. Often, at the back of the running shoe, the upper is padded to prevent rubbing and irritation against the Achilles tendon.
The heel counter:
This is a firm and inflexible cup which is built into the upper of running shoes and surrounds the heel. It is usually very firm so that it can control motion of the rear foot.
Post or footbridge:
This is the firm material in the mid sole which increases stability along the inner side (arch side; medial side) of the running shoe. How to choose running shoes:
All the runners need the best protection that running shoes can provide – the running shoe needs to absorb shock, control motion, be flexible and be durable.
1. Sport Specific Shoe. Plan to select a shoe specific for the sport in which you will participate. A rule that says if you participate in a sport more than 3 hours per week then use a sport specific shoe. Do you want to play soccer in tennis shoes? Do you want to jog in football boots? Of course not. Get a sports specific shoe for each sport you participate in.
2. Check the wear of your shoes regularly. Make sure you examine and replace your shoes regularly. Most running shoes last for between 750-800 miles of running according to the manufacturers. However a good rule of thumb is to check the part of the sole that naturally creases when you go onto tip toe. If it looks wrinkled when you flex the shoe, it’s time to change them. Checking and changing your shoes is one of the best ways to avoid the doctor’s office. With a careful training schedule that avoids over training and doing too much, too soon, too quickly and too often, you can reduce your risk of energy markedly. Be sure to check all aspects of your shoe for wear. Make sure the outsole is not worn through. Make sure that the heel counter is not tilted in or out. Check for holes worn by the pressure of your toes.
3. Don’t wear a new shoe in a race. When you go off to run a marathon, bring your old friends along. Wear shoes and socks that you’ve broken in thoroughly.
4. Select appropriate socks. Cotton socks are available everywhere, but are not often appropriate for your sports activity. The best sock is often one made of synthetic fibres that wick moisture away from your feet.
TOP TIP! If you know your shoe size shop online. For excellent deals on running shoes check out sports shoes. com below the best site on the web that we have found for running trainers.
Running shoes – Frequently asked questions
How do I know if a shoe fits correctly?
You want to focus on three areas when fitting a shoe: the heel, the mid-foot, and the toe.
Your heel should stay seated in the shoe when running and/or walking. Certain lacing patterns can help hold the heel in better if the shoe fits well otherwise.
The length of the shoe and the amount of toe room you need are somewhat dependent on your mileage. In general, the more miles you run, the bigger you want your shoes to fit, because your feet swell on longer runs. Marathoners need approximately a thumb-width of space between the end of the toe and the end of the shoe. Runners who rarely run more than 5 miles can do well with half that amount. If you’ve ever had black toenails or blisters on the ends of your toes, your shoes are too short.
Mid-foot fit is the most important. The shoe should be snug without creating pressure points. If the arch of the shoe doesn’t feel like it matches up with your arch, you probably won’t like the shoe. Shoes that are too wide here will result in side-to-side slipping, and will cause blisters in the arch area. If you have to pull the laces extremely tight to get the shoe to fit, it’s too wide.
As for the “feel” of a running shoe, we all have our personal preferences. Some of us like a softer ride, while others prefer more of a firm, responsive feel to their running shoe. As long as you are selecting a shoe that is appropriate for your foot-type, trust your instincts about the feel that you prefer.
How long do running shoes last?
The life of a running shoe is approximately 400 to 500 miles. Lighter, softer shoes tend to wear out faster while more stable shoes last longer. Bigger runners and runners who train primarily on concrete wear out shoes faster. Lighter runner and those who train on soft surfaces will get more miles out of their shoes. There is no single reliable indicator of when a shoe is no longer providing adequate support. However, the forefoot cushioning tends to go first, so if it feels flat and you’re in the 400 to 500 mile range, you’re probably read for a new shoe. If you think you need new trainers check out the store below. Highly recommended by our team.
What kind of socks should I wear?
Wear whatever is comfortable to you but in general stay away from cotton socks. Cotton absorbs moisture and keeps it next to the skin. Moist skin is more vulnerable to friction blisters. Synthetics like Cool-max are better at removing moisture and keeping the skin dry and more comfortable. As for the thickness of the sock, go for whichever is most comfortable to you. Double layer socks are designed to minimize the risk of blisters by allowing the two layers of the socks to rub against each other instead of rubbing against the skin. Double layer socks work great
Do I need more than one pair of running shoes?
Contrary to a popular myth, studies have shown that running shoes do not regain cushioning if allowed to “rest” between runs so there is no advantage to alternating the same model of running shoes.
Some people choose to run in two different models so that they aren’t experiencing the exact same foot-strike run after run, day after day – not a bad idea for higher mileage runners as long as the two models are appropriate for your foot type. Also, having two pairs of shoes can allow one pair to dry out after a longer or wet run.
Runners who consistently alternate their running workouts may want a light shoe for their speed-work, a more durable model for longer runs and/or a trail shoe for off road workouts.
The most important thing to keep in mind whether you own one pair or three pairs of shoes is to keep track of how many miles you have on each pair.
How long does it take to break in a running shoe?
Don’t wait for your shoes to “break in.” Unlike most other athletic shoes, running shoes are made from synthetic materials – not leather. They do not stretch or give. They should fit true from the first day. If a running shoe does not feel comfortable from the first run it will most likely never feel comfortable. Don’t ignore pressure points, hot spots or irritating seams.