What the Best Running Shoe?

This is the most common question I get asked! The short answer is there is no single best running shoe, but there is a best running shoe for you. Everyone is different, so why would there be one best shoe?

Your first step should be going to a running specialty store to be fitted for a shoe. The fitting process starts with a conversation. A trained associate will ask questions about your running and any medical issues who may have when running. The next step may be to verify your shoe size. This could be done by measuring your feet, or by sizing you in a shoe. One thing to note, you typically wear a larger size in a running shoe, than your street shoes. As you run, your feet swell, and you want to be sure you aren’t hitting the front of the shoe. Too small a shoe can lead to blisters and black toenails.

The most important step is to go through a gait analysis. Some running stores offer video gait analysis. This involves running or walking on a treadmill, and being recorded for a few seconds. Other stores have associates watch you walk or run. Either way it’s done, the analysis looks to see if your feet do one of three things: overpronate, supinate (under pronate) or are they neutral.

Overpronation is an inward roll of the feet as you go through the motion of your step. This is the most common type of gait. Approximately 75%-80% of us over pronate. Supination is when your feet roll to the outside during the motion of your step. If you are neutral, this means you have no rolling motion as your run.

What comes out of the gait analysis and the conversation with the sales associate will help determine which type of shoe you need. For those who over pronate, chances are stability shoes will be recommended. Stability shoes are typically built up on the inner portion of a shoe, and are designed to slow the rate of over pronation. In some cases the shoes will bring closer to a more neutral gait. These shoes will have some additional support. If you are someone who supinates or are neutral, a neutral shoe will be recommended for you. These are shoes without the built up portion, but are still very supportive and cushioned.

Once it’s determined the type of shoe, then it’s time to try on shoes. You will typically be presented with three different shoes. At this point you are trying to determine which feels best. Runners ask all the time what they should be feeling in a shoe. You want the shoe to feel natural. You don’t want the support to be overly noticeable, nor do you want to feel a gap. You should be sitting comfortably, not really aware you are wearing a shoe.

As you are trying on shoes, jog around the store. If the store has a treadmill, run on the treadmill. Do whatever you need to do to determine how the shoes feels. One thing I will tell you, whatever you feel in the store, you will feel once you get the shoes home. There is very little break in process with a shoe. I advise runners, if they feel something odd, that isn’t going to go away, and the shoes probably won’t work. Remember, you want the shoe to feel natural. The right shoe can make all the difference in your running, so make sure you are being properly fitted.

Charlie Colpaert is Manager of Providence Running Company, an avid runner, with over 50 races under his belt, ranging from 5Ks to marathons. He is currently training for the 200 mile 2015 Hood to Coast Relay Race.  Providence Running Company is located at 195 Wayland Avenue. If you have a running or walking question you would like to submit, you can email Charlie at [email protected]

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