Selecting the Right Shoe for You

Although selecting the best shoe for you may seem a bit overwhelming, in reality it's not all that difficult if you have an understanding of how your feet move, and how the technologies in running shoes work.

How Feet Move

  1. Neutral movement: Feet turn inward slightly as they hit the ground, called pronation.
  2. Overpronation: Feet roll too far inward, the arches collapse and provide no support. Overpronators usually have low to flat arches.
  3. Supination: Feet roll outward rather than inward. Supinators usually have high, rigid arches that don't absorb shock well.

If you're one of the lucky runners who is neutral, you probably have few injuries. However, if you're among the majority of runners who overpronate, or you supinate, you may be injury-prone.

Types of injuries common to overpronators:

  1. Achilles tendonitis
  2. Arch pain
  3. Knee pain
  4. Rigid big toe
  5. Hip and lower back pain

Types of injuries common to supinators:

  1. Illiotibial band syndrome
  2. Plantar fasciitis
  3. Achilles tendonitis

What Shoes Go With What Feet?

Shoe manufacturers make shoes for each type of foot: overpronators, supinators and neutral runners. Not surprisingly, shoes for neutral runners are described on our website as being neutral. Although people with a neutral footstrike can wear just about any type of shoe, it's best to stay away from those with a lot of devices designed to control movement, which is why neutral shoes have very few –bells and whistles.” Neutral shoes are best for neutral runners and supinators.

Neutral Shoe Characteristics

  • Single-density, soft to moderately soft midsoles
  • Zero to moderate torsion rigidity (a fancy technical term that refers to how easily the shoe twists when it's held by the heel and the front is turned in the direction of the big-toe)
  • Semi-curved to curved shape (when looking at the sole)
  • Very flexible

Support shoes are designed for runners who overpronate. Since there are varying degrees of overpronation, shoes for overpronators offer varying degrees of support and stability. At Running Warehouse we classify support shoes as being mid, moderate or maximum.

Mid-Support Shoe Characteristics

  • Small portions of midsoles that are higher density
  • Soft to moderately firm midsoles
  • Mid to moderate torsion rigidity
  • Semi-curved to curved shape
  • Very flexible

Moderate Support Shoe Characteristics

  • Larger portions of midsoles that are higher density
  • Soft to moderately firm midsoles
  • Mid to moderate torsion rigidity
  • Semi-curved to curved shape
  • Moderately to very flexible

Maximum Support Shoe Characteristics

  • Much larger portions of midsoles that are higher density
  • Moderately firm to firm midsoles
  • Moderate to maximum torsion rigidity
  • Semi-curved to semi-straight shape
  • Mildly flexible to moderately flexible

Runners who severely overpronate need motion control shoes. Shoes classified as moderate motion control are best for severe overpronators who run low to moderate mileage (10-20 miles-per-week), runners new to the sport who severely overpronate or larger runers with moderate overpronation. Maximum motion control shoes are best for large runners (men over 190 pounds, women over 150) who severely overpronate.

Moderate Motion Control Shoe Characteristics

  • Much larger portion of midsoles that are higher density
  • Firm midsoles
  • Moderate to maximum torsion rigidity
  • Semi-straight to straight shape
  • Mildly flexible to moderately flexible

Maximum Motion Control Shoe Characteristics

  • Largest portion of midsoles that are higher density
  • Firm midsoles
  • Maximum torsion rigidity
  • Semi-straight to straight shape
  • Mildly flexible

What about Cushioning?

Cushioning doesn't refer to how soft a shoe feels but rather how long a shoe will provide shock absorption before it breaks down. Since cushioned shoes weigh more than shoes with less cushioning, the amount of cushioning in shoes and body frame size are closely related. Larger runners tend to break down shoes with less cushioning, and runers with smaller frames may feel that maximum-cushioned shoes are too heavy. As with pronation control categories, we break cushioning levels down based on the amount of cushioning in a particular shoe.

Maximum Cushioning Characteristics

  • Largest cushioning devices
  • Midsole materials resist compression
  • Good for high-mileage, larger runners and runners who want a luxurious ride

Moderate Cushioning Characteristics

  • Medium-sized cushioning devices
  • Variety of midsole materials
  • Good for any amount of training volume and body frame size

Minimum Cushioning Characteristics

  • Small amount of cushioning devices
  • Best for fast-paced training or racing and runners with smaller body frames

Should I Wear a Racing Flat or Trail Shoe?

Racing flats are very lightweight, with a minimum amount of cushioning. Generally speaking, you should consider a racing shoe if you fit into these categories:

  • Your are a man who races at under 6:00 minute-per-mile pace
  • You are a woman who races at under 7:00 minute-per-mile pace
  • You have a smaller body frame. (Larger runners who race fast can wear racing flats, but like any shoe with a minimal amount of cushioning, a racing flat will quickly break down when worn by a larger runner)

Trail shoes are designed to offer better traction and stability than road shoes. If you run over 50% of the time on trails, you should consider a trail shoe. Characteristics of trail shoes are:

  • Minimal pronation control and cushioning
  • Durable outsoles usually with lug patterns
  • Low profiles
  • Protective uppers
  • Quick-drying materials
  • Often water-resistant