Running shoes are essential for anybody who runs regularly. They help to protect you from injury by absorbing the impact on your feet and legs, while also helping to provide traction. Running is inexpensive but your footwear is one piece of equipment worth investing in.
The key to choosing good running shoes is getting the correct balance between performance, comfort and protection against injury. The range of running trainers available is constantly changing and can seem daunting. This guide is designed to help you find the most suitable running shoes for your needs.
FIT FOR PURPOSE
Think about where you will be running and buy shoes which are suitable for the terrain. For example, there are different shoes available for road running and off-road/trail running.
WEAR RUNNING SOCKS
When trying on new running shoes, wear the socks you intend to run in. The thickness of your sock can make a big difference to the fit and feel of your shoe, especially during hot weather.
Many running shops offer a free gait analysis service to help you select the best pair of shoes, depending on your running style and foot type. A gait analysis involves a short run on a treadmill, while being recorded. The video is then played back in slow motion so staff can accurately assess your foot plant, stride and running pattern. In addition to gait analysis, some running shops will offer you the opportunity to ‘test’ the shoes on a treadmill in the shop before purchasing.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT FASHION
Remember that running shoes are a functional piece of equipment, designed to protect your feet and legs from injury. Try to avoid choosing a shoe for its design. Make your decision based on comfort, fit and its suitability for your needs. Your feet will thank you in the long run.
NOTHING LASTS FOREVER
Your running shoes take a great deal of pounding across a range of surfaces, in all weathers. Eventually they will wear out. General advice suggests that footwear needs to be replaced after approximately 500 miles, although in all honesty, how often you need to buy running shoes will depend on factors such as your weight, running style and the running terrain. Try to avoid running in shoes which are evidently worn out; they will provide less protection and can increase your chances of injury.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF RUNNING SHOES
Running shoes can be divided into four main categories depending on ‘pronation’. Pronation is the term given to describe the action of your foot rolling inward, from heel to big toe, when you walk and run. This is a natural movement and helps to absorb the impact of your foot hitting the ground. Some people over-pronate, where the foot rolls in too much, and some under-pronate, where there is not enough of a roll. Running shoe companies have designed different types of footwear to help manage this.
Neutral shoes are recommended for runners who need maximum midsole cushioning but have a relatively normal level of pronation. These shoes are best for biomechanically efficient runners and mid-foot or forefoot strikers with high or normal arches.
Stability shoes are recommended for runners who are mild to moderate over-pronators and, in general, have low to normal foot arches. These runners tend to need a shoe with a combination of good support and midsole cushioning.
Control shoes are recommended for runners who severely over-pronate, to slow down or limit extreme inward rolling of the foot and ankle.
Off-road or Trail Shoes
Off-road shoes offer a more studded sole for increased traction, with reinforced and more durable materials. The foot sometimes sits slightly lower to the ground than usual, for stability and responsiveness, and the shoes often have less cushioning than a road shoe, because they are designed for softer surfaces.