Running shoes are important. Specifically, the PROPER running shoes are important. Wearing the correct style of running shoes is critical to avoiding injury and remaining comfortable along the way. While there are many different types out there for all levels of runner, beginners should stick with traditional style running shoes and avoid minimalist or barefoot styles. Select a pair with the assistance of a local running shop or athletic store to ensure proper fit and comfort for your first pair. Beyond your first pair (assuming they worked out for you), feel free to order online if it means a better deal, but we strongly advise always trying them on in-store before purchase. One common mistake many people make is not replacing them enough. Like anything, they wear out over time. It is recommended amongst experts they should be replaced every 300-400 miles. Also, your running shoes should be just that, running shoes! Don’t wear them at any other time, wear them only when running, jogging or walking. That said, let’s take a look at the four types available:
STABILITY RUNNING SHOES
Stability running shoes are designed for people who have normal or medium arched feet. The strike will occur somewhere between the middle to outside of the heel. The weight then moves along the foot and rolls inward on to the ball of the foot and ends through the toes. Great for mild to moderate overpronators (the foot rotates inward). These shoes have medial support and have good midsole cushioning. This is the most common foot type, and most runners will need stability shoes.
MOTION CONTROL RUNNING SHOES
Motion control running shoes are for people who have low arches or flat feet. A runner with either foot type has the tendency to strike on the outer edge of the foot. This foot excessively rotates inward (called overpronation) and can cause injuries as the weight transfers unnaturally, but motion control shoes can certainly aid in resolving this. They do so by having extra support devices on the medial side to slow excessive pronation. Motion control shoes also generally have wider and flatter outsoles. This style of shoe is also excellent for heavier runners.
NEUTRAL CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOES
Cushioned running shoes are designed for people who have high arched feet. This can range from a simple thin banded edge on the outside edge of their footprint, to an arch so wide it will span the entire width of their foot. A runner with this foot type will heel strike, then transfer the weight along the narrow outer edge and then finish through the toes. A foot like this has very little rotation (this is referred to as supination or underpronation).When running the weight travels from the heel strike along the outer edge of the foot and through to the small toes which bare the brunt of the lift off. These shoes are designed with midsole cushioning in mind, and in effect will provide the shock absorption the lack of pronation creates. It should be noted however that cushioned shoes will also work for mid and forefoot strikers.
MINIMALIST RUNNING SHOES
Pure and simple, barefoot running is the oldest form of exercise, though calling running “exercise” for purposes of survival is perhaps absurd. Minimalist shoes allow for a barefoot-like experience, while offering protection from natural features like rocks, roots, sticks and in the case of urban runners, glass, sidewalk cracks etc. This kind of running, also referred to as “natural running” allows your feet to work, well…naturally! However, this style of running also takes quite a bit of time to develop your body to and is certainly not for everyone (even some expert level runners have issues develop over time).