What a runner wears on their feet has to be the most important part of their running kit. You may call them trainers, sneakers, running shoes or something else, whatever name you give them, they give your feet protection as they hit the ground and are responsible for coping with all of the forces that happen as you run.
Naturally, everyone is different. You may want to run for a 10-minute session on the treadmill or sign up for a 10K race that is likely to be demanding. You may be male or female, small or tall, slow or fast. You need running shoes that suit YOU. Your choice of trainers must be perfect for YOU and YOUR running needs.
We are able to give you a helping hand in choosing the right shoes for your needs. Then you can check out our extensive list to see which ones will be the best fit for you.
However, the first step is understanding your own needs.
Understanding Your Biomechanics
Understanding your personal biomechanics is an essential factor, regardless of whether you plan to use a treadmill, run on the road or somewhere else.
When you run, you will likely land on the outside of your heel. A rolling action will then occur where your foot moves inwards to be flat. We call this action ‘Pronation', it is what gives you balance and allows you to run.
A runner who's foot roll is too far as they run is a common occurrence. We call this ‘over-pronation'. It is fairly easy to find out if this is happening to you and you don't need to worry if you find it is. It is a common occurrence and you can find a wide choice of shoes which are designed to help your feet feel comfortable and also to decrease the risk of you injuring yourself.
Use The Old Shoe Test
Analyze your old shoes to figure out which new shoes you should buy:
Put your old shoes on a level surface and take a look at them from behind the heel.
If you see a light inward lean you know that you over-pronate. That means you should purchase motion control or support shoes. (A lot of people will look at the wear on the outside of the heel and think that they do not over-pronate. This is landing-wear and is not related to pronation).
When the foot of a runner doesn't roll far enough we call it under-pronation. If this is what is happening to you, your shoes will have a slight outwards lean. You should opt for a choice of cushioning shoes.
If you have correct pronation you will not have a lean at all. This means we call your feet neutral. In this case, your shoe choice should be neutral shoes.
One last thing to think about. If you have used support shoes in the past for running and have not suffered any injury and your shoes don't show the inward lean signs it likely means you are not in need of support shoes, however, the shoes have been successful in preventing over-pronation for you in the past.
Use The Wet Foot Test
Another way to understand your desired shoe type is by using the wet foot test.
Make sure your feet are damp and leave a barefoot print on tiles (it won't work on soft flooring).
A ‘flat foot' means you have a low arch. This means almost your whole sole will show in the footprint and the band which is between your forefoot and your heel will pretty much be the whole width of your foot. This usually means your feet have a tendency towards over-pronation.
A ‘regular' arch means the band between your forefoot and your heel is going to be about half of your foot width. It is less likely that you will have over-pronation.
A high arch will only have a narrow band, or may not have a band at all between your forefoot and your heel. This means you have a high chance of underpronation. You should opt for a neutral shoe choice. Sole Trader have loads of shoes like this, use their website to pick a pair.
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Runners will also hit the ground in different ways. For most people, their heel strikes first. That means when their foot hits the ground it is the heel first then they roll forwards and leave the ground again on their toes.
For someone who is a forefoot striker, they will land on their forefoot and then might rock onto their heel. They will then likely leave the ground again on their forefoot.
A midfoot striker will find that their forefoot and their heel land on the ground at the same time.
Someone who is a forefoot runner needs more cushioning since the forefoot is taking the initial force and also is impacted by the toe-off. You will also notice that as you run faster your heel will have less ground contact and you forefoot will have more contact.
There are Various Shoe Categories.
Shoes can be divided as follows:
Neutral shoes – For runners who under-pronate or runners who are neutral. Certain neutral shoes may also suit mild over-pronators. For under-pronators, it is important that the shoe choice is flexible and provides cushioning.
Support Shoes – These shoes also use cushioning technologies however they also give support so that over-pronation is reduced.
Motion Control Shoes – For severe over-pronators, these shoes will provide extra support.
Trail Shoes – Designed for off-road running.
Lightweight Shoes – For racing and quick training. This choice is either neutral or supportive and provides a lower level of protection than normal training shoes.
Racer Shoes – For very quick training. These shoes offer limited protection and are extremely lightweight. Some choices will give support for over-pronators.
Check out our guide to find out more about all shoes in these categories and to read our reviews to see which trainers will work best for you.