HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST ROAD RUNNING SHOES
Road running shoes are the most common type of trainers and are usually what most people think of as 'running shoes'. They're designed to be highly shock-absorbant to help protect your joints against the impact of harder surfaces, reducing your risk of injury and giving you a more comfortable ride.
But with so many running shoes out there, where do you start?
Our handy guide will give you everything you need to know to help you choose the perfect road running shoes for you.
What is your Foot Shape?
The first step to finding the correct running shoes is knowing your foot type based on the shape of your arches. Your foot shape usually dictates how your foot strikes the ground, your running gait, and what level of support you’ll need.
For a more comprehensive running trainer fitting service All Runners Need stores offer free video gait analysis.
Using video technology to analyse how your feet respond to every step, our expert fitters can assess how much you pronate – that’s the extent to which your foot naturally rolls inward when you run –and where your foot strikes the ground.
How can I Test my Running Gait Myself?
The wet foot test can give you a very basic idea of what shoe could be right for you.
Simply wet the sole of your foot, step onto a piece of heavy duty paper or a dark tiled floor, and examine the footprint you leave behind. The shape of your footprint can tell you whether you have a flat foot, normal, or high arches.
The wet foot test however, should only be used as a preliminary guide as it does not take into account running injuries or foot strike, so we strongly advise you to get a full gait analysis by one of our in-store experts.
What does my Gait Mean?
There is no right or wrong gait, instead this process will highlight whether you’re a neutral runner, an overpronator, or an underpronator to ensure you get the right level of support, allowing you to run efficiently and comfortably with a more natural stride, and with less risk of injury.
A NEUTRAL RUNNER
A neutral runner usually has high arches and the ideal gait for avoiding injuries, especially over long distances.
You supinate and pronate at the right levels so your feet stay balanced as you run. You should go for a neutral, lightweight trainer.
Runners with high arches usually need a neutral shoe to ensure they’re getting the right support without controlling or restricting the foot.
AN OVERPRONATING RUNNER
If you overpronate your foot rolls too far inward when you walk or run, causing pain and unnecessary strain on the overall alignment of your body. Usually overpronators will have flat feet or low arches.
Unfortunately, overpronation is one of the main causes of the most common running injuries so your trainers are vital. Well cushioned and supportive trainers will keep your feet and ankles stable allowing you to run securely.
AN UNDERPRONATING RUNNER
Underpronation, or supination, is when your foot either doesn’t roll inward at all or rolls outward as it hits the ground. This decreases shock absorption and causes the smaller toes to do most of the work during push-off.
Less than 5% of the population are underpronators and are commonly runners with high arches. You’re best opting for a cushioned but neutral and lighter weight running shoe that will encourage flexibility and motion rather than preventing it.
What do I Need to Know About Running Shoes?
Now you know your foot shape and gait you’ll be able to narrow down your selection of running shoes.
Fit and functionality must always come first when choosing your running shoes, not style or colourway. It’s important that you have the right level of support, cushioning, and protection to reduce your risk of injury and improve your performance.
These are the features you should be looking out for:
You may have seen or heard this term, or heel-to-toe drop. This indicates how high your heel is raised above your forefoot.
For example, an 8mm heel-toe drop means that the heel height is 20mm, the toe height is 12mm so your heel is 8mm higher than your toes.
The ideal and comfortable heel-toe drop for you is usually determined by your gait. If you heel strike you need a higher offset to allow for more cushioning and shock absorption in the heel. If you’re a forefoot or midfoot striker you need a lower offset as the extra cushioning in the heel is not necessary.
NICE TO HAVE FEATURES
These features won’t make affect the level of support and cushioning your running shoes give you but they will affect your performance and comfort.
Breathable but water resistant mesh uppers are essential for allowing the sweat and heat to escape while keeping the rain out, ensuring your feet stay dry and comfortable and reducing your risk of blisters, whatever the weather.
Traction is especially important if you’re running in wet weather, even if you’re sticking to pavements and paths. Look for durable soles with a good tread on the sole.
Reflective or hi-viz detailing helps you stand out on the road in the dark and low light conditions.
GETTING THE PERFECT FIT
The most expensive pair isn’t necessarily the right shoe for you so don’t be tempted into thinking the higher the price the better the shoe.
It is usually recommended you buy a trainer half a size to a size larger than your normal shoe to accommodate foot movement and swelling during running. Check with your gait expert when buying new shoes.
Comfort is crucial, but make sure a qualified expert analyses your running gait in that trainer, what might be comfortable while you walk around the store isn’t necessarily right for your running style.
What Socks are you Running in?
It sounds silly but the thickness of your sock can make a big difference to the fit and feel of your shoe, especially as your feet expand in the heat. Always wear the socks you intend to run in when you go for a shoe fitting.
Consider a good, technical running sock specifically designed with added arch support and extra padding across the ball of the foot, toes, and the heel.
Although comfortable we wouldn’t recommend wearing cotton socks when running. Cotton retains moisture, add to that the heat and friction from running and you’re likely to end up with blisters, calluses, and hot spots.
Always ensure your socks are higher than the back of your running shoes otherwise they'll slip down during your run causing friction hot spots on the back of your heel.
You May Also Like: