The Four Shoe Categories |
There are four main running shoe categories. Although most shoe manufacturers do not use the same categories when describing their footwear, you can easily identify that some shoe models can fall in between these four categories.
First category is the neutral-cushioned shoes. These shoes have maximized midsole cushioning but with minimal arch support. They are highly recommended for normal to high-arched runners or those who tend to midfoot or forefoot strike.
The second category is the motion-control shoes. These shoes have maximum stability and usually have support on the medial (the big toe - arch) side of the shoe. They are suitable for flat-footed runners who are moderate to severe overpronators. It is also recommended for heavy runners who seek supportive shoes.
The third category has a good balance on support and midsole cushioning and it is called stability shoes. These shoes are recommended for runners who have low to normal arches and have mild to moderate overpronation.
The first three are categorized by the runner's biomechanical needs. In contrast, the fourth category, the performance shoes, are more specialized. They are recommended for racing and if used for training, by biomechanically efficient runners. Amongst the shoes, the performance shoes are the lightest. Because of their light weight, they usually have varying amount of support and cushioning.
Other Factors to Consider
Maybe you already have an idea what running shoe you should get but you also have to consider other factors that might help you in choosing your ideal shoe.
First, know where you strike the most and the hardest. You can look at your old shoes and observe the wear patterns of the shoe. You will need a pair that has extra cushioning to the area where you strike, also, a very durable outsole.
Second, if you are a supinator (you roll your foot outward), look for a shoe with soft midsole foam and a curved last. You must not use motion-control shoes especially those with medial post for stability.
Third, if you are wearing orthotics look, for shoes that are roomy enough to accommodate it. Most running shoes have removable sock liner and you can replace them with your orthotic. You can also consult your podiatrist to know what type of shoe would go well with it. The podiatrist will probably recommend a neutral-cushioned shoe with a lot of support or for extreme overpronators, a motion-controlled shoe.
Fourth, if you have wide feet look for running shoes with wide toe boxes. As a rule in picking the right size for a running shoe, there should be a thumb's space between your longest toes to the end of the shoe. On the other hand, if you have narrow feet, there are lacing techniques to help you avoid slippage. You can also look at performance shoes as they tend to be narrow.
In conclusion, choosing a running shoe can be an overwhelming task. In determining how to choose a running shoe, your choice can make it or break it. Depending on it, you can run in comfort or in pain, or you can stay in shape or get injured.
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