Whether you are an athlete running for the Olympics or a periodic pavement runner, happy feet definitely make all the difference. For the people who run, either occasionally or regularly, to choose running shoes that are the perfect fit is almost the same as purchasing a car or investing in real estate; you’re going to be spending a lot of your time in them and so, you want something that you really like and something that caters to your comfort level.
Tips to choose running shoes that fit best
To choose running shoes which are the absolute right pair for you is very crucial. This is because it is the only thing which can bring down a lot of problems that most runners face, like plantar fasciitis, shin splints, etc.
While looking to choose running shoes that are the perfect fit, one should, first and foremost, take into consideration the shape of their feet. Looking at a runner’s foot is what most people who sell shoes do before they start shelling out their ideas on what kind of a shoe the particular person needs.
Types of feet
The three main types of the foot are flat, neutral, and high arches. Flat feet tend to have fallen arches, which makes them flexible and prone to overpronation, or an inward rolling motion. High arched feet are mostly the polar opposite of flat feet. When the arches are defined particularly, the feet end up being rigid leading to supination, or land on the outside edges of the feet. Neutral feet, on the other hand, are biomechanically the most sound variety, putting them somewhere in the middle of flat feet and high arched feet.
As a result of the different variety of foot shapes, most shoe companies around the world have come up with developed models to accommodate the runners of all strides.
Choose running shoes that fit: Types of running shoes
Regardless of the brand, running shoes are divided into three types, each type addressing the specific needs of the different kinds of runners.
- Motion control shoes: motion control footwear emphasizes medial support by having dual density midsoles, roll bars or footbridges. This inside support or medial slows the rate of overpronation.
- Stability shoes: stability shoes or footwear combines the cushioning features and the supporting features into its design.
- Cushioning shoes: cushioned shoes emphasize enhanced shock dispersion in their midsole and/or the outsole design.
To choose running shoes – jargon you need to know
A heel-toe drop is the difference between the heel height and the forefoot height. It primarily affects the way how the foot strikes the ground while landing. The importance of this drop value is that the lower is the value, the easier it is for the runner to land on their midfoot or forefoot while running.
A heel counter is a piece of leather or any rigid material placed around the heel, forming the back of the shoe. It helps to provide motion control and is at times supplemented by a heel wedge, which helps to add support and cushioning to the heel. It helps those runners who are bothered by the Achilles tendonitis.
Medial posts or torsion bars are essentially located on the sides of the shoes to help in controlling the excessive inward or outward motion. These are specifically designed for overpronators and supinators.
How to choose running shoes that are the right fit
During the selection process, it is important to align the foot type with the proper shoe category. Flat- footed harriers often tend to gravitate to a higher stability shoe because it prevents overpronation. Neutral runners can run in many different types of footwear. However, mostly, they go for a shoe with moderate stability. Runners with high arches are best suited for cushioned shoes, providing a midsole paddling with flexibility.
Also read: What’s your body clock – All you need to know about your biological clock
Once one has been directed to the correct category, to find the perfect pair of shoes, the best option is to try on several different pairs. Most runners need to go just half a size up from their street shoes, which allows them about one-fourth to a half inch of wriggling room in the toe box. While one may want to wriggle their toes around, it is necessary to make sure that the heel is snug and secure, avoiding any kind of unnecessary slippage.
In the end, most runners usually find what they have been looking for, i.e. their ideal shoe. Once in the right category, people should choose what feels best for them. The shoes should ideally feel like an extension of the foot, working in harmony with the actual foot shape and biomechanics.
Choose running shoes perfectly – tips summary
So, to sum it all up, here are the steps needed to take while buying a perfect pair of running shoes:
- Have the foot evaluated by a professional that essentially deals in sports medicine to figure out what category of shoes you need for your feet. This step is particularly important if you are suffering from any kind of injury.
- Fit the shoe at the end of the day. Or better yet, fit it after taking a run so as to simulate how large your foot will be when you end up purchasing it. If, in any case, you have orthotics or generic supports, make sure to bring them along at the time of the fit.
- Always go to a good quality shoe store for the fit of your shoe. The fit of the shoe should feel like a comfortable glove around your feet, snug but not too tight.
- Do make sure that you have at least a one finger gap at the end of your feet to the big toe.
- See to it that the features on the shoe are not just for the sake of the show, i.e. a window that shows you the air bladder in the sole but in turn, ruins the stability of the shoe.
- Never make the mistake of going to a shoe store with only a specific shoe in mind. Be open to the idea of a different variety of shoes. Your foot will fit a whole range of shoes in a particular category, for example, pronation control shoes.
- In case you are choosing a stability shoe, make sure you realize that it can mean different things to different lines. For example, a stability forefoot striking shoe will definitely not serve a heel striker well.
- Make it a point to break the shoe in slowly by either doing shorter runs or by walking, so that you do not develop blisters.
- If possible, try to find a shoe store which accepts returns on purchase so that you can always go and exchange the shoe if it does not feel good after the first run.
Thus, we see that there is nothing in the world as the “best” shoe; it’s just that every foot has its own need that has to be fulfilled. All sorts of things that have been mentioned above, like the biomechanics, body weight, running surface, and most importantly, the shape of the feet- mean that one person’s ideal shoe can prove disastrous for the other!
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