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  Finding the Right Running Shoe for You - a cropped image of runners running in the street of only their shoes and the pavement

Finding the Right Running Shoe for You

Last Updated: Oct. 4, 2018

By: Taira Jordan

In This Article: Running Shoes by Foot Shape Running Shoes by Terrain Other Running Essentials

When looking to buy a new pair of running shoes, finding the right pair is important in preventing running-related injuries to your knees, shins and joints. Runners should replace their shoes roughly every 500 miles, which for a moderate runner who runs 5 miles three times a week, is every 8 to 10 months. Worn out running shoes do not offer the same performance and protection and pose a greater risk of injury. Running is an inexpensive sport; you just need to have a pair of running shoes that fit your specific needs. Instead of buying running shoes based on the brand name or the shoe’s look, choose shoes based on your foot shape and the terrain you will be running.

 Running Shoes by Foot Shape

Every runner has one of three arch types on their feet: flat, high or neutral.  When you run, your foot naturally pronates or flattens the arch, when it makes contact with the ground.   Your foot type determines how much or little you pronate and thus the type of running shoes you need.

  • Flat footed people do not have an arch or inward curve of the foot and tend to overpronate or roll their feet inward.  Overpronators flatten their feet too much so that other parts of the leg have to provide support.   They benefit from a running shoe that maintains stability and do well with a motion control shoe to control the excess rolling of the foot.
  • High arches are the opposite of flat feet and are defined by their high, often rigid arch.  Since this type of foot is less flexible, there is less natural stock absorption.  Those with high arches tend to underpronate, making the legs absorb more shock.  Cushioned running shoes are ideal for high arch runners as the cushioning reduces the shock when the foot hits the ground.
  • People with neutral feet have an arch that falls between a flat foot and a high arch.  They need a running shoe that is between a motion control shoe and a cushioned shoe.  This shoe should provide cushioning, medial support and durability while preventing excess motion.

 Running Shoes by Terrain

a man running in the outdoors along park with a city in the background

In addition to shopping for a running shoe based on your foot type, you should look for a shoe designed for your intended terrain.

  • Road running shoes are made to run on pavement and other hard, even surfaces.  Light and flexible, these shoes are designed to cushion and stabilize your feet through repeated steps on hard ground.
  • Trail running shoes are designed for off-road dirt trails and uneven paths with rocks and other obstacles.  These shoes have deeper, more aggressive tread for better traction.
  • Lightweight running shoes are lightweight, responsive shoes that are designed for speed training.

 Other Running Essentials

 To maximize your comfort while running, all runners should wear good running socks and ladies should wear a supportive, high-impact sports bra.

Running specific-socks have extra padding across the ball of the foot and in the toe and heel area.  This additional padding adds arch support, reduces shock and protects the foot from blisters.  Cotton socks are not ideal to wear while running as they retain moisture and have a tendency to cause blisters.

As running is a high-impact sport, women need a well supported sports bra.  Sports bras designed for high-impact sports such as running reduce movement up to 70% for essential comfort.