Walk into any sports store and chances are that you will see shoes, trainers, and sneakers lining the walls of the store. The right footwear is an essential part of any sport, especially running. Getting the perfect shoe can be difficult for a novice, but it doesn’t have to be. Educating yourself about what you need in a good shoe can lead you to getting a shoe that you love. Ultimately, the most comfortable shoe will also be the best for your health.
“Running shoes can be one of the most confusing products out there,” states Claire Wood who works at New Balance as a Senior Product Manager of Performance Running. She also says that even in a brand, choice is not limited from styles and options. A revision of a shoe that you loved can make you dislike it, and conversely an update on a previously hated shoe can make you love it.
If you’ve already got an idea about the type of shoe that you want, then take a trip to a store that specializes in running. This will get you more bang for your buck, and the store might even analyze your gait for free to make sure you get the proper shoe.
If you are not near a running specialty store, then you can take matters into your hands. Measure your gait at home by filming yourself running (perhaps on a treadmill), use some of the few tips mentioned below, and then you’ll be able to order some shoes online even. After that, you’ll be hitting the road before you know it.
So what are the seven secrets of finding the perfect running shoe?
1. Know What You’re Using It for
You should have an idea beforehand of the type of running that you’ll be doing with your shoes. It matters whether you’re starting out or if you love marathons. The more you run, the more your foot needs cushioning against impact. Take a look at the routes you run whether its pavement or the hills. All of it matters.
2. A Little Bigger Is Better Than A Little Small
Putting on a shoe that is too small can injure your toenails. Your feet move inside and they also need room to breathe. Aim for 1/2 a size bigger running shoe than your street shoe. Wood also recommends to check the tow which is the closest to the tip of the shoe, and get a size bigger to fit an extra fingernail’s worth of space.
3. Check Your Foot
You should look at how your foot is when standing normally and how it moves when you strike your foot. Knowing this tells you much support your foot needs.
Try this basic test. Bend your knees while standing on your feet. Do the arches of your feet and the insides of your legs tilt inwards? You might need extra support as your feet may have problems keeping your body stabilized. A shoe with more stability can take care of the overpronation to absorbs shock better.
If your weight shifts towards the outside during the test, then you should avoid a shoe with stability qualities as you may have underpronation. Your arches will be irritated and cause unequal weight distribution. Try to buy shoes with more flexibility in the soles so that your foot does not roll outwards.
If it’s all straight during the test then your stance is neutral and you can try on any type of shoe.
4. Silence Is Golden
The sneaker you can run the most quietly in is the right one for you, states Spencer White from Saucony’s Human Performance and Innovation Lab. The idea is that that the less sound a sneaker makes while you run, the less stress and impact you body will experience. The slapping sound of your feet hitting the ground as you run means that the shoe has a stiff heel and your foot is not moving properly with it. This can lead to a greater shock and joint impact, which is very unhealthy.
5. Go For A Test Run
If you’re visiting a running specialty store, check whether you can take your shoes out for a test run with a quick run outside. A treadmill is good for training, but it inherently provides extra cushioning for your feet so it’s much softer and therefore not as good of a test as compared to the open road. This also lets you see if the shoe meets your personal preference of cushioning or not. “Some runners might prefer a lot; others might want to feel like they’re closer to the pavement,” says Wood. If you’re just coming back from surgery or your joints have a lack of cartilage then you should opt for a shoe with more cushioning while also consulting with a doctor.
6. Prefer Functionality Over Fashion
It’s understandable that you want to look good while you are running, but compromising on functionality and a better running shoe in exchange for a more hip and fashionable shoe opens the door to a lot of injuries. It’s like buying a great looking used car when under the hood is a lemon. Again, what you are going to use your shoe for comes into play here. Marathon runners can’t get by with hip looking minimalist lightweight sneakers as the feet require a greater amount of cushioning when running over longer distances and time.
7. Comfort Is A Pretty Good Benchmark
The comfort in wearing a shoe can tell you a lot about whether you should stick with that shoe or not. A shoe should not pinch, cause aches, irritate your arches or push your foot around. The goal is to have shoes that move when you move, shoes that feel like a part of your body. “Our brains are way more sophisticated in how they sense their movement than someone watching us is. You need to trust yourself and how you move,” White says.
If you keep all these tips in mind when buying a shoe, you can pretty much guarantee that you will have an amazing time shopping for a pair and then trying it out. Even if you don’t, you can use the awesome return policies that many stores have nowadays to get a better pair. If you plan to exercise, they better be as comfortable as possible.