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How to Buy the Right Running Shoe

Updated on November 12, 2011

Running Shoes

Flickr photo by poppa-D
Flickr photo by poppa-D

Running the wrong way can be extremely hard on your joints. Many take up running for a short period of time and quit soon after. They find that there joints are extremely achy, their knees are sore and their hips out of joint. If you have taken up running and either quit because the pain is too great, or if you have persevered, but are in great amounts of pain - there is good news! One of the biggest problems (besides the lack of warm-ups and stretching) is what running shoes you wear.

Let me make something clear: This is not a hub that is trying to make you spend extra money. There are some good and cheap shoes out there and there are plenty of exorbitantly expensive shoes that do more harm to your body than good. The most important part is that you match your shoe to your running/walking style.

Your Running and Walking Gait

This is the most essential part of finding the right shoe for you. It is quite easy to find out what type of gait you have.

Pronation (or Overpronation)

Our feet were created to pronate some when walking to absorb shock: Your foot naturally rolls inward as your foot touches the ground. This is generally a good thing, but there are many people who 'overpronate'. This causes great amounts of pain to the joints, tension and body aches.

Neutral

The Neutral runner is blessed. Their feet tend to pronate just enough. Although a Neutral runner is lucky, he still needs to make sure he is wearing the right running shoe for this style. If he wears a pronation or supination shoe he is likely to have just as many issues as the others.

Supination

Supination is when a runner does not pronate enough. Their feet either land flat, or in extreme cases roll outward.

To find out which gait you have, take a well worn pair of shoes (running or walking) and see which portion of the shoe has the most wear. If there is excessive wear on the inside (especially in the front half of the foot) you likely overpronate. If the wear is on the outside of the shoe, you need a pair of shoes that compensate for supination. If the wear seems evenly placed, then you are most likely a neutral runner.

Buying the Right Shoe

Keep in mind that the more expensive the shoe rarely means the better. If you want a pair of shoes that will last hundreds of miles, you should not buy the lowest quality shoes, but do not just assume that you have to empty your wallet.

The self diagnosis that I explained in the section above is good, but there is a possibility that you misdiagnosed yourself, this is why it is important to stop by a running store. You don't even need to buy your shoes at this store, but it is important that they watch your stride and tell you the running shoes that would fit you best.

A Couple Do's and Don'ts

I caution against buying long distance running shoes from Nike. They are usually expensive and look good, but they are far from the best.

New Balance, Saucony and Asics are three highly trusted brands. You don't need to get a big name shoe, but I recommend that you go to a running store (local stores are usually most trustworthy and helpful) if you hope to buy smaller brand shoes.

Other Important Running Health Tips

Make sure that you stretch and warm up before your run and stretch and cool down after your run. This is extremely important - especially for the new runner. A new runner's muscles are likely tense from the stress of life, this increases the danger of injury exponentially.

If you find that your joints are still achy after your runs, think about running on trails instead of on sidewalks. The shock of sidewalks and other hard surfaces can be extremely hard on your body.

Make sure that you are hydrated and that you eat protein after your work out. This will reduce stress on your body and it will alleviate body ache.

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