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Best Shoes for Power Walking or Running

Updated on March 1, 2014

Choosing the Right Shoes

Choosing the proper walking or running shoes is more important than you may think for anyone planning to do some power walking or jogging. Other than creating a miserable and painful running experience, the wrong shoes can cause serious shin, hip or foot problems. Shop for the best shoes for you, not the best buy at the mall.

The best shoes for running, power walking, or even mall walking will depend on several different factors. What type of running or walking will you be participating in? What types of surfaces will you be traveling on? Some other factors to consider include: the athlete's size, foot type, pronation, and gait. Being professionally fit for running shoes once a season makes sense as conditioning, health, aging, and training goals may change.

Foot Type and Pronation

Pronation is the rolling the foot from heel to toe when taking a step. Neutral pronation is the normal step that causes less stress to the feet. It is the hitting of the outside of the heel and up to the ball of the foot evenly across the front. Underpronation is when there is not enough evening out across the front of the foot, causing the outside of the foot to take most of the shock. Having too much roll from the outside to the inside of the foot is called overpronation. Determining your foot pronation is an important part of choosing the right shoes.

Shoe Wear

Just as one would check the wear on their tires, check out the wear pattern on your current walking shoes.

  • Medial (inside) wear means overpronation.
  • Lateral (outside) wear means underpronation.
  • Uniform wear across the forefoot indicates a normal stride.

Arch Height

Foot type can also be determined by checking your arch height. The simplest way to figure out your arch height is by wetting the bottom of each foot, next stand on a paper bag for a couple of minutes, step off and observe the footprint. Tracing the imprint is a good idea if you think you may need to look at it again later.

  • A high arch is the sign of supination
  • A normal arch is the sign of neutral pronation.
  • A low arch (flat foot) is the sign of pronation.

Shop Local

If you have a local running store, it could pay to check them out first since they have knowledgeable staff who can help you make choices suited to your foot type and pronation. It's also a great why to support your local businesses.

Choosing Your Shoes

Low Arch

Flat footed persons are usually overpronators, meaning that their feet roll inward when they run. Motion control shoes are the best choice for flat feet (or low arch), because they help maintain stability while running. Flat footed people may also need to wear orthotics, or custom made shoe inserts, to correct foot problems.

High Arch

People with high arched feet tend to underpronate, or supinate, meaning their feet roll outwards as they run. These folks will want to look for something in a cushioned shoe. A flexible shoe with a soft midsole helps cushion the feet and absorb shock. Arches may gradually start to fall with serious running, causing the feet to get longer. If this occurs you will need to have your feet remeasured and refitted.

Normal Arch

A neutral or normal arched foot has the most options when it comes to choosing comfortable shoes. You can choose from low arches to high arches and find several choices of comfortable shoes. Running shoes with a lot of motion control or stability are not good choices for those with normal feet.

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