Whether you’re a hard-core marathon runner or a casual jogger on the weekends, proper running shoes are a necessity. Any runner can tell you that a nice run through the park can turn painful if your toes hit the front of your shoes or you don’t have enough insole support. Besides the discomfort, wearing the wrong running shoes can lead to worse problems like plantar fasciitis or shin splints.

So what makes a good running shoe? And more importantly, how do you choose the right running shoe for your needs when there are so many to choose from? Here are some criteria to follow the next time you’re shopping for new running shoes.

 

Your Running Gait

The very first thing you should do before searching for running shoes is to get your gait checked. Most, if not all, running stores will be able to do a full gait analysis for you. A gait analysis provides information about how you run, checking your foot’s degree of pronation, or “the natural inward roll of the foot as the outside part of the heel strikes the ground.”

By checking the mechanics of your foot, you’re able to determine just how much support you need from a running shoe. Speaking of foot mechanics, there are three types of sole patterns that affect the type of shoe you get:

  1. Pronation is a neutral wear pattern centralized at the ball of the foot and heel, allowing for easy absorption of impact during a run. If you have a normal degree of pronation, this means you can wear just about any type of running shoe that feels good to you.
  2. Overpronation is a wear pattern along the inside edge of the foot. If your gait analysis shows this, you’ll need a shoe that offers greater stability and control.
  3. Supination, or under-pronation, is a wear pattern along the outer edge of the foot. If this is your running gait, you’ll need a shoe that offers significant cushion.

If you’re struggling to choose a running shoe, a gait analysis is a great starting point. After all, you can’t know what will make your feet happy until you get to know them a little bit first!

 

The Type of Runner You Are

Some shoes are better for road-running, while others are better suited for trail running. No matter what type of running surface you prefer, there’s a shoe that can make your run worthwhile. If you spend the majority of your time training for marathons on pavement, or run on the track or treadmill at the gym, you’ll want a shoe that provides more cushion and stability. Orthotic insoles for running can also add another level of support you need on your runs. If trail running is your go-to activity, you’ll need a shoe that offers solid traction and underfoot protection. Below are some of the top road-running and trail running shoes you can choose from.

Road-Running Shoes

  • New Balance Vazee Pace v2
  • Brooks Ghost 9
  • Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33
  • ASICS MetaRun
  • Saucony Kinvara 7

Trail Running Shoes

  • New Balance Vazee Summit
  • Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 3
  • Altra Lone Peak 3.0
  • Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2
  • Salomon Sense Pro 2

 

What Feels Best to You

Once you know what your running gait is and the type of shoe you need based on the type of runner you are, it’s time to actually shop around and try on different shoes. Whether you need extra support for overpronation or you’re looking for the ultimate trail running shoe, you have plenty of brands and models to choose from. As you’re testing out different shoes, be sure to walk around and even jog up and down the aisles of the store. You may know the type of shoe that’s best for your foot mechanics and needs. But ultimately, you’ll be the one wearing them constantly, so make sure they feel right on your feet.

Finding the right running shoe can be a daunting task, but knowing your running gait and trying out different shoes will help you locate the best ones for your feet. And if you find that you need a bit more support with your shoe, check out our orthotic insoles that work well with any running shoe you choose.