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5 Tips to select your best fit running shoe

Updated on August 13, 2012

Walk into any sporting goods store and you will find hundreds of different types of running shoes. They all have different features that make them stand out, but how do you choose the one pair that is right for you? Here are 5 steps to follow when selecting your shoes.


Pronation is the natural side to side movement of your foot when walking or running. A neutral position means your foot strikes on the outside of the heel and across the ball of your foot. Under-pronation means the foot doesn't rotate inward enough and over-pronation means the foot rotates inward too much. This can lead to several types of foot injuries, so they should be considered when you select a shoe. Flat-footed runners typically over-pronate while runners with high arches tend to under-pronate.


How to Determine Your Foot Type

Many high-end running shoe retail stores can do an in-store wet test to analyze your foot print; you can also try this at home using a brown paper bag or other heavy piece of paper. Wet your foot and step down on the paper. If just your heel, ball of your foot, and a thin line for the side of your foot--you have high arches. If you see your whole foot print, you have flat feet. A normal foot print means your have normal pronation or your foot will land in a neutral position. Use these results to help select a shoe.

I have flat feet...

If you have flat feet, you need a shoe that offers motion control. Keywords to look for in a description are stability, support, and motion control. These shoes will have added foam on the medial side of the arch that should extend toward the heel. There should be a crash pad at the heel to help absorb impact.

I have high arches...

If you have high arches, you need a shoe that does not have the medial support like a flat footed shoe. You need a shoe that offers shock absorbency that will allow flexibility and not inhibit natural pronation. The shoe needs to have good midsole cushioning for maximum effectiveness.

Once you have narrowed down your foot type and the type of shoe you are looking for, it is time to really go shopping. Head to a local running store that will have trained staff to help you select the right shoe. It is good to go late in the day as your foot will be at its largest size. Take a pair of socks that you will be wearing while you run. You might find its more comfortable to select a half-size larger shoe to give you more room without causing blisters.

Keep these points in mind:

  • Don't buy a shoe just because it looks cool
  • Don't buy a shoe because its a certain brand
  • Don't buy a shoe without trying it on
  • Don't be afraid to take them back if they don't feel right after running
  • Don't jump around with brands--find one that works and stick with it.

Ensuring the fit

Follow these steps to make sure you have a good fit:

  1. Just like your mom used to do--use your thumb to check the space at the toe box of the shoe. Your thumb should fit from the end of your longest toe to the end of the shoe.
  2. The upper part of the shoe (where it laces) shouldn't irritate or dig into your foot when laced properly.
  3. Your heel should feel snug and secure without too much wiggle room or without being too tight.
  4. Don't put the squeeze on the middle of your foot--make sure the width of your foot has adequate space.
  5. Do whatever you can to see if the feel is good--hop around, run on a treadmill, run around the store, jog in place--try to mimic your natural movement to see how the shoe really feels in action. If in doubt, keep looking.


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    • mackyi profile image

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      Great hub. Thanks for sharing.


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