Not All Running Shoes Are Created Equal – Find The Right Ones For You!

Maritza Rodriguez tells you what to look for in a running shoe so that you prevent injuries and perform better.

Avoid Cheap Running ShoesI decided to do a lot of research and write about this subject since I am training for a half marathon in May. (You can read my training log – Running for a Charity at Muscle and Strength Forum)  A great friend, who motivated me to run at this event, always tells me and emphasizes - don't buy cheap brands. Good running shoes can be a bit expensive but they are worth it. Recently I bought a new pair of running shoes because my old ones didn't have enough space between my toes and the shoe's toebox. And what happened? I lost 2 toenails - known as "runner's toe" or "black toenail". Every time I ran I felt my toes hitting the front of the shoes. Also, years ago I over-trained running, plus I did it with the wrong running shoes, and now I suffer from arthritis in my knees.

Running is a great cardiovascular exercise with amazing benefits (when paired with good nutrition, and without over-doing it!):

  • It can help you lose weight because it requires a lot of energy from your body.
  • Improves your cardiovascular health, which means less chances of having heart attacks and strokes.
  • Slows the aging process in your body since you’ll be fit for longer.
  • Keep your bones stronger and reduces your chances of developing osteoporosis.
  • It is a great way to alleviate stress and feel great (while you run, your body releases hormones called endorphins - substances produced in the brain with analgesic properties).
  • It'll help with coordination because you learned how to best control your body to avoiding tripping while running (especially when you are running on hills and avoiding obstacles in your path).

If you like to run or you're interested in starting, you need to take into consideration the type of shoes you're going to wear. It's definitely NOT like buying a pair of shoes that'll go great with an amazing outfit for a night out on the town. Choosing your running shoes can make a difference between having a great or bad experience. Don't buy the ones on clearance, because - BELIEVE ME - for this activity cheap things turn out to be more expensive (you can suffer bad injuries and your concentration can be affected because of the pain).

Every time your foot hits into the ground, shockwaves move through your body. When these waves are repeated and are not absorbed properly, eventually you can have issues not only with your feet but knees, ankles, hips and even your back. Choosing a good pair of shoes for the type of activity being performed (in this case running), helps absorb shockwaves while normalizing the function of your feet.

Ok so I found a couple of terms that'll help me understand the type of running shoes we need:

  • Pronation: It is known as the rotation of the foot when it hits the ground. The proper way is to strike first with the heel to the toes uniformly, thereby reducing the pressure of impact.
  • Normal Pronation:  When the outside part of the heel makes initial contact with the ground. The foot rolls inward about 15%, comes in complete contact with the ground, supports your body weight and you have no problem – congrats you have normal feet!
  • Overpronation:  When you have flat feet or low arches and your foot rolls more inward as you run.  The foot and ankle have problems stabilizing the body, which can cause leg injuries.
  • Underpronation:  When you have high arches and your foot rolls more outwards as you run.

How to determine the arch of your foot?

You can do the "Wet Test". Soak your feet in water and stand on a paper bag or in something where you can see your footprint. Draw your foot's profile to determine what type of arch it has.

If you have a semi-curved shape then you have a normal arch (neutral pronation), and you can choose a stability running shoes.

If you have a flat feet shape, then you have a low arch (overpronation), choose a motion-control running shoe.

If you have a curved shape, then you have high arch (underpronation), choose cushioned shoes.

A normal foot pronation is normal (normal arch)

Neutral Pronation

A flat foot is excessive pronation (low arch)

Excessive Pronation

Those who have excessive arc have a less pronounced pronation (high arc)

High Arch Pronation

There are specialized stores where you can get running shoes, where the sales person can guide you.

Some tips to go ready when you're ready to buy:

  • The best tiem to shop is late in the day when your feet are at their largest. Your feet will expand while running.
  • Wear or buy the socks you'll wear when you run.
  • Do NOT make the most common mistake new runners make by buying the cheapest or the latest designer shoe. It is highly likely this will not be the ideal shoe for you.
  • Make sure the salesperson measures both of your feet. Often, one foot is slightly larger than the other. You should be fitted for the larger foot.

And prepare to ask the following questions:

  • How long have you been running?
  • How much mileage are you doing per week?
  • Are you training for a particular event?
  • Where do you do most of your running?
  • How much do you weigh?
  • Are you aware of any foot problems?

Based on your answers, the salesman will show you various models that fit your needs.

** Buying shoes too tight or too loose is the worst thing you can do. How can you make sure your running shoe fits correctly?

  1. There should be enough room in the “toebox”. Between the tip of the shoe and your big toe, you should be able to fit your thumb.
  2. The foot should NOT be tight or sliding.
  3. The heel should fit in the back and should NOT slip.
  4. It may seem stupid but try to jog a little in the store to see if they are comfortable for running.

Maintaining your running shoes

  • It is better to clean them by hand with water, soap and a brush. The washer can damage the materials in the footwear.
  • To avoid having bad odor inside your shoes, apply baking soda inside. or a shoe deodorant found in any pharmacy.
  • Try to have two pair of similar shoes to alternate and rest one pair.
  • Also if you train often you should replace your running shoes at least one a year.

Hope this tips can assist you, they definitely help me a lot!