The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Running Shoes

best running shoes guideThis guide to choosing the best running shoes is going to help those who can’t decide what brands and products to buy. First we’re going to discuss the features you should consider when buying one of these, and then we’ll take a look at the different brands and products. Finally, we will look at specific models for men and women and review them.

If you’ve never done any serious running before, it’s easy to make the mistake of assuming any shoes will do, but that’s not the case at all. If you’re not wearing the right pair of shoes, there’s a good chance you could hurt your feet. Bottom line: wear proper shoes and you’ll do fine.

Features to Look For

The easiest way to figure out how to buy the right shoes is to learn what sets them apart from the rest. There are a lot of factors that will come into play but above everything else, there are three elements you must always account for: fit, comfort and pronation.

Fitting is Very Important

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best running shoes for you, but first and foremost, the shoe must fit. This doesn’t just mean buying one with your shoe size. Shoes may be of the same size but one could feel tighter than the other. The fit should be snug while still giving your feet room to breathe. In addition:

The heel should be locked securely. When the shoe is laced, it must be tight but you should be able to wiggle your toes.

There should be a centimeter of empty space for your big toe because your feet swells when you run.

The best running shoes in the market have a mesh so your feet can breathe. This is good but make sure it’s not too breathable that water will enter.

Protection and Comfort

With so many different shoe brands, a debate has come up whether it’s best to go minimalist or get shoes that offer as much protection and comfort as possible. Everyone has an opinion about this but there’s no question you need shoes with cushions to protect your feet and joints. Running is physically demanding so protection will be necessary.

The general rule is that if you’ve got a high arch or underpronation, cushioning shoes are ideal, while stability shoes are for those with overpronation or low arches. If you don’t have any problems and want to be as near the ground as possible when running, look for minimalist shoes instead.

What is Pronation?

shoe wear patternsBefore looking at the best running shoe brands, you need to understand what pronation is. Pronation happens at your joint below your ankle and refers to the inward rolling motion of your foot once it hits the ground. This is known as the initial contact and is part of the gait cycle.

Today’s running shoes like Asics and Salomon are designed for different types of pronation, so you need to consider this when buying a pair of running sneakers.

Neutral pronation: you’re a neutral pronator if your shoe soles have an S-shaped wear pattern, beginning at the lateral heel to the big toe. Neutral pronators have a wide array of shoes to choose from, with emphasis on support and cushioning.

Underpronation: underpronation or supination means your feet don’t pronate as much. The lateral / outer heel side strikes the ground at a raised angle, producing a significant amount of shock on your lower leg. Underpronation makes you vulnerable to leg injuries and fractures, so make sure you get shoes with lots of cushioning like the ones made by Saucony.

Overpronation: This is the opposite of underpronation, wherein your foot rolls too much, increasing the weight transfer to your foot’s medial or inner side. This leads to destabilization and compromises your ability to maintain balance. Fortunately there are shoes like those made by New Balance that can counteract this.

There are a few more factors that you have to consider before making a purchase. First, the heels need to be snug, not tight. To keep things simple, the shoes shouldn’t make you uncomfortable, because the unease will increase when you run. The instep should be secure as well and there should be enough space for your feet to move side by side. This is one of the most important features of a good shoe, and the longer you run the more you’ll appreciate this.

Aside from width, length also matters because your feet lengthen during a long run, and you should also check the flex point before buying the shoe. Simply hold the heel and press the shoe’s tip on the ground. The shoe has to crease and bend at the same line where your foot flexed. Avoid shoes that are incorrectly aligned because this can lead to plantar fasciitis and arch pain.

Regardless which shoe you choose, make sure to get one that matches your foot’s movement and contour. Your arch type and pronation are important but so is the overall feel. Fortunately this is easy to figure out by simply wearing the shoes and use them on a treadmill or running with it. If the shoes feel right, then it’s the proper fit.