|How to choose the best running shoes?|
All running shoes are not created equal. If you want to maximise your performance and keep yourself free from pain and injury, it’s vital to select a pair of running shoes that’s appropriate for your needs.
The old shoe test
Take a look at a pair of your old shoes to see what kind of shoes you need:
- Stand them on a level surface and look at them from behind the heel.
- If you over-pronate your shoes will show a slight inward lean. You need support shoes or motion control shoes if you feet roll too far. (Many people make the mistake of looking at the wear on the outsole at the outside of the heel and thinking they don’t over-pronate. This wear is caused on landing and does not relate to pronation)
- Under-pronation is when a runner’s foot does not roll far enough. If you under-pronate your shoes will show a slight outwards lean. Choose a pair of cushioning shoes.
- Correct pronation means there won’t be any lean. Your feet are said to be neutral. You should choose neutral shoes.
- A final thing to consider. If you have run in support shoes in the past, not had injury problems and your shoes show no signs of inwards lean it probably means you do need support shoes but the shoes have successfully prevented the over-pronation in the past.
The wet foot test
- An alternative way of being guided as to what type of shoe you’ll need is the wet foot test.
- With damp feet leave a barefoot print on a tiled floor (don’t use a soft floor or carpet).
- If you have a ‘flat foot’ it shows you have a low arch. Your footprint will show almost the whole sole of your foot with the band between heel and forefoot virtually the full width of your foot. Low arches usually indicate your feet are prone to over-pronation.
- If you have a ‘regular’ arch the band between heel and forefoot will be around half the width of your foot. There is less likely to be a problem with over-pronation.
- If you have a high arch you will see only a narrow band, or even no band at all, between the forefoot and the heel on your wet footprint. This indicates a high likelihood of under-pronation. You too should choose a neutral shoe.
- Runners also vary in where their feet hit the ground. Most people heel strike. This means their foot hits the ground heel first before they roll forwards and off their toes.
- A forefoot striker lands on the forefoot, they may then rock back onto the heel before moving forwards off the forefoot.
- A midfoot striker lands with their foot heel and forefoot landing together.
- A forefoot striker will need more forefoot cushioning as the forefoot is taking the initial impact force as well as the forces generated by toe-off. You will also find that as you run faster you will run more and more on your forefoot with the heel having less contact with the ground.
The shoe categories
- We can divide running shoes into the following categories:
- Neutral – These trainers are for runners who are neutral or under-pronate. Some shoes in this category may also be suitable for mild over-pronators. Under-pronators should look for a flexible pair of well-cushioned neutral shoes.
- Support – These still have the same kind of cushioning technologies as neutral shoes but in addition to this, they have features to give extra support and guidance to slow and reduce over-pronation.
- Motion Control – People who over-pronate more severely and heavier runners who over-pronate can choose these shoes that provide extra support and guidance.
- Trail – specifically designed for off-road running.
- Lightweights – for use in fast training or racing. Less protection than regular training shoes. These shoes are also either neutral or supportive.
- Racers – Made for racing or very fast training (eg track work). These shoes are very light but offer limited protection. Some offer some support for over-pronators.
- To find out all about the shoes in each of these categories see our guide to running shoes where we review the trainers to let you know what is suitable for which uses.
- We believe in the transformative power of running and how it has the power to change your mood, mind, your day and your outlook on life. But, as it’s is a weight-bearing exercise involving repetitive movements of your feet, running safely begins with the right shoes.
- Visit your local running store: A speciality running store will be able to analyse your gait and fit you properly. Based on your foot type they will either suggest a non-pronator (neutral shoe) or a pronator (support shoe).
- Your local running store experts also understand that different shoes are needed for different types of running. For example, if you’re running a marathon you’ll need a well-cushioned shoe such as our Wave Sky or Wave Horizon, whereas if you’re training for a 5km run a lightweight performance shoe, like our Wave Shadow or Wave Catalyst would be more appropriate.
- Select the right size: Not everyone realises how to select running shoes that are actually the right fit for exercising in. There are a few simple ways to make sure.
- Check that the width is comfortable and you have enough movement in the toe box. Don’t forget to lace them up when you’re trying them on – this is the best way to ensure your heel is sufficiently secure and locked in.
- Always leave a thumbprint’s space at the top of your shoe. Your feet swell when you run, so it’s important to allow for this. This is why it’s better to shop for running shoes in the afternoon rather than the morning, as your feet swell during the day, so this will give you a more realistic idea of the size you need.
- Don’t be surprised if you need a different size of running shoe than in regular shoes – this is perfectly normal.
- What your shoe should do
- You need the right amount of cushioning and stability in a running shoe to make sure you can run comfortably and go the distance. We use Wave Plate technology in our shoes, which tackle both issues in one – by providing you with a shoe that will give you support and comfort as well as being highly durable.