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How to Pick the Perfect Running Shoe: 3 Tips to Get It Right

Wearing the right running shoes while working out can make all the difference in terms of performance and long-term health. To avoid foot pain—and for added comfort and fun—it’s important to buy appropriate jogging shoes.

Even if you’re excited to try on all the latest shoes for jogging, you must determine your type of stride before hitting the store. Your stride type will give you the necessary starting point for finding the ideal shoe for your feet.

Here are a few tips to determine your type of stride so that you can make the right buy.

1. Assessing your stride type

The way you run depends on the anatomical build of your foot, which plays a major role in choosing the type of running shoes you need. To determine your type, look closely at the sole (not the heel) of a well-worn shoe you’ve done a lot of running in (inset 2), or try the wet foot technique. Usually, a “normal” foot will have a neutral stride, a flat foot, an overpronated stride, and a high-arched foot, a supinated stride.

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The centre of your sole is worn

Your stride is neutral (slight pronation). In this case, a universal or neutral running shoe that’s both comfortable and adapted to your weight will work most of the time.

This is the most common running stride. “Slight pronation” means the feet turn slightly inward when hitting the ground. Under these conditions, the mechanical stress created by running is distributed well throughout the centre of the foot, which usually reduces the risk of injury or muscle pain to the tendons and bones activated when running.

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The inside of your sole is worn

Your stride is overpronated. You’ll need to find a shoe that stabilizes your stride and provides proper support for your foot. A neutral shoe with an insert (foot orthosis) can also do the trick.

There’s no need to panic: some 40% of runners have an overpronated stride. This means that the feet turn markedly toward the inside when they come into contact with the ground. Flat feet—in other words, a low or fallen arch—are often the cause. In the long run, this overpronation of the foot can cause tendinitis, specifically when it comes to Achilles heel and problems in the knees or hips.

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The outside of your sole is worn

Your stride is supinated. You’ll need to choose shoes that are well cushioned in the heel and centre of the shoe, or in some cases, use a custom insert.

This type of stride is less frequent and is characterized by a foot that turns outward when hitting the ground. Associated with high insteps (cavoid foot), it does not properly absorb the shock when the foot hits the ground. This shockwave goes straight up your back, hitting your knees and hips along the way. The best option is to get shoes made specifically for you, or you’ll be at risk of musculoskeletal injuries and stress fractures.

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The wet foot technique and the FOOTDISC

If you’re about to buy your first pair of running shoes, or your soles do not give you the information you need, you have another option to determine your type of running stride.

To find your foot type, you can perform a test at home by wetting your feet and placing them on a dry surface (inset 1). You can also consult an in-store specialist to evaluate the arch of your foot using the FOOTDISC, a tool made specifically for this purpose.

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2. Simulate a run

The running shoe must be comfortable as soon as it is slipped on: offering enough room for the toes, with a generously cushioned tongue, collar and insole, an adherent and abrasion-resistant outer sole, and a material that breathes easily. All of this is why you must definitely take a run around the store with your new shoes on.

Make sure that you’re reproducing the conditions under which you normally run. Wear your usual exercise shoes to the store, and if you normally wear inserts, bring them along so that you can then select the right shoes with removable insoles.

3. Buy your shoes at the end of the day

We tend to forget that our feet swell throughout the day, so shop for shoes toward the end of the afternoon, when your feet are slightly swollen. Otherwise, you risk buying shoes that are tight to run in.

Whether your feet are “normal”, “flat” or “cavoid”, making your stride neutral, overpronated or supinated, well-fitted shoes are essential if you want them to keep up with your pace. Even more important than comfort, suitable shoes will help you to avoid excess fatigue and decrease the risk of injury. Don’t hesitate to take your time at the store and ask for help from a sales assistant. That’s what they’re trained for.

Happy trails!

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