Picking the right running shoe.

August 24, 2010
by Justin

Picking the right running shoe a lot of times can make or break how well a student-athlete will progress in their training. Get the wrong shoe for the wrong type of training and all of a sudden the student-athlete will find themselves drowning in injuries. Even worse, if the student-athlete is training during the preseason lingering injuries many of times set the stage for an injury plague regular season. I can not stress enough how important it is to understand what type of runner you are and the corresponding shoe that is necessary for optimal training.

One of the first things you should know before purchasing a running shoe is whether you overpronate or underpronate? For those who do not know what these terms mean, let’s start with pronation; which refers to the inward roll of the foot during normal motion and occurs as the outer edge of the heel strikes the ground and the foot rolls inward and flattens out. The normal pronation occurs exists when the foot “rolls” inward about fifteen percent and comes in complete contact with the ground. This motion is the ideal position for proper shock absorption. So one can assume that overpronation occurs when the foot rolls inward more than the ideal fifteen percent, (at the initial contact of the foot to the ground). This means the foot and ankle have problems stabilizing the body, and shock isn’t absorbed as efficiently.  Inversely, underpronation occurs when the inward movement of the foot occurs at less than fifteen percent (i.e., there is less rolling in than for those with normal or flat feet). Consequently, forces of impact are concentrated on a smaller area of the foot (the outside part), and are not distributed as efficiently. If you are unsure of the type of runner you are the best thing to do is to inspect the bottoms of the shoes you were, more specifically your current running shoes. If you notice excessive wear on the outside of your shoes, you may be guilty of underpronation. And if the inner sides of your shoes are especially worn, you could be overpronating.  Understanding how you pronate will dictate what kind of running shoes you should be looking at. By not using this as your starting point you will leave yourself susceptible to the following injuries:

  • Arch pain
  • Heel pain
  • Flat feet
  • Corns and calluses
  • Ankle sprains
  • Shin Splints
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Knee pain
  • Hip pain
  • Back pain


Runner’s World just recently released their Fall 2010 Shoe Buying Guide which highlights 24 models ranging anywhere from $80 – $170. Their reviews are comprised of solicited feedback from 350 different runners. They break them out into four categories, motion-control, stability, nuetral-custioned and performance-training.  They define each category as the following:

    1. Motion-Control: shoes offering firm support and maximum rear-foot control that heavy runners and severe overpronators need.
    2. Stability: shoes which provide moderate support and good midsole cushioning for runners who are mild to moderate overpronators.
    3. Nuetral-Cushioned: shoes that have a maximum midsole cushioning and minimal support for runners with minimum pronation.
    4. Performance-Training: shoes that have degrees of support and cushioning, generally weighing around 10 ounces, and fit like a glove.


Now we can’t sit here and tell you which is the best shoe, you really need to determine how you pronate and which category best fits your needs. We also realize that you can only buy what you can afford. We do recommend if you do have a history of foot issues that perhaps speaking with your podiatrist first be your best bet, as you may need some kind of orthotic. Other than that, Runner’s World does a wonderful job of illustrating several other pitfalls many people fail to avoid when buying the right shoe.

Mistake #1: Buying for looks.

Mistake #2: Not asking for deals.

Mistake #3: Buying shoes that are too small.

Mistake #4: Shopping at the wrong time of day.

Mistake #5: Assuming your size.

Follow these tips and you should be on your way to optimal training and reaching your full potential.

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