How to Choose the Right Pair of Running Shoes


A good pair of running shoes is an important piece of equipment for any athlete. Shoes that are chosen specifically for foot type and fitted properly can help keep athletes healthy and possibly prevent injuries such as shin splints and stress fractures. The guide below will help you determine how to shop for the right shoe for your foot and explain when to get rid of your old shoes in favor of a new pair.

Foot Types and Shoe Qualities:

  • High arched feet are those that have a large gap between the floor and the arch of the foot. This foot type tends to be rigid and needs a shoe that can absorb the shock of running. Look for a shoe that is flexible and has a thick and cushioned midsole.

  • Low arched feet or flat feet are those that do not have much of a gap between the floor and the arch of the foot when standing. This foot type is very flexible and needs a shoe that can control its motion. Look for a shoe that has a rigid heel counter and more durable foam in the middle 1/3 of the midsole (often there is a change in foam color or texture in these types of shoes).

  • Neutral feet are those that have an arch height between high and low. This foot type can accommodate most shoe types.

Parts of the Shoe:

  • Heel Counter: A rigid piece surrounding the heel that provides stability.

  • Upper: The part of the shoe that encloses the foot and includes the laces.

  • Midsole: The portion between the outer-sole and upper that is responsible for most of the shoe’s shock absorption.

  • Outer-sole: The outer layer of the bottom of the shoe where the treads are.

  • Toe Box: The area where the toes are located.

How to Tell if it’s the Right Fit:

First, make sure to try both shoes on (with socks, braces, and orthotics/inserts, if applicable) and lace them properly. Wear them around for 10 minutes to make sure nothing is poking or rubbing. Good running shoe stores actually allow you to run in them to see how they feel (do so if you have the chance). Other indicators of a proper fit are:

  • The shoe should bend at the ball of the foot where the toes bend. If the shoe bends farther forward or behind where the toes bend, this means the shoe is too big or small (which could result in unneeded stress occurring elsewhere on the foot).

  • There should be an index finger width between the longest toe and the end of the shoe.

  • The heel should be stable and should not move in and out of the heel counter.

  • The foot should not slide back and forth inside the shoe when stopping or starting.

When to Replace Shoes:

If you are a runner, keep track of your mileage. Shoes should be replaced between 300 and 500 miles, depending on your training. In general, shoes should be replaced at least once per athletic season (if not more, depending on activity). Shoes should also be replaced if they show unevenness in wear when placed on a flat surface or if there is noticeable creasing in the midsole.

Remember that the midsole (which is the portion of the shoe that absorbs shock) is usually the first part to wear out in athletic shoes. If all of a sudden you start experiencing aches and pains that you haven’t dealt with before (such as shin splints or knee pain), it could be because the shoes are no longer absorbing the shock of running and your body is instead! This may be a signal that it is time to change shoes. If you do not, the aches and pains could become overuse injuries.


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