How to Pick the Perfect Running Shoe for Your Body & Your Workout by Shawn Rene

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You need the right shoe for your body and your specific running style.

To find the right shoe, you need to:

  • Understand “pronation”.  It’s the rolling of the foot from heel to toe. You want to make sure you are hitting the ground correctly with your foot when you’re running and testing a running shoe.
  • Determine your foot type. Most running shoe stores have equipment to help you do this.
  • Select a gait type. You have to figure out and understand how your body works.

The most important equipment for a runner is the shoe. When the foot hits the ground, the impact that travels up the leg is four times the runner’s body weight. The shoe is the first safeguard to absorb the impact.

There is a science behind picking out the right shoe for your body.  Everyones feet are different some have pronounced arches, some people harldy have any archs. Some people’s feet roll inwards while they run, others put their weight on the outer edge of their feet.  Many runners  over-pronate, and as a result, the alignment of the ankle, knee and hip is thrown out of healthy alignment. This is what leads to pain and injuries. Which is why, the kind of shoe you buy is important.

Find your Foot type match

Flat Feet

If you’re looking at your foot, you’ll know you have flat feet if you don’t see any arch. The bottom of your foot, from your toes to your heel, is completely flat. If you do the footprint test, your print will look like a foot-shaped blob. You won’t see an inward curve from your big toe to your heel.

Problem?  If you’re flat-footed, you’re most likely an overpronator, which means that your feet roll inward when you run.

What to Buy:  You will probably need a running shoe that maintains your stability. Look for the words “motion control” and “stability” on the box of running shoes you are considering. In addition to motion-control shoes, some flat-footed runners also need to wear orthotics (custom-made shoe inserts that correct foot issues).

High-arched Feet

You should be able to easily determine if you have high arches — you’ll notice a high and definite arch on your foot. If you do the footprint test, your print will curve inward, making the middle part of your foot look very skinny. When you push your hand against the bottom of your foot, your arch will stay rigid.

Problem?If you have high arches, you probably supinate or underpronate, which means your feet roll outwards as you run.  It’s very important that runners with high arches periodically re-measure their feet because running will cause their arches to gradually fall, making their feet longer.

What to Buy:  You need to look for flexible running shoes with a soft midsole that absorbs shock. When buying running shoes, look for options with the words “flexible” or “cushioned” included in their descriptions.

 Shoes are meant to fit the feet and not vice versa. The shape of your foot arch and the width of your foot are good indications of the type of foot you have and knowing these can help you to choose the right shoe. Foot type is commonly described according to the type of arch you have. That is the curving hollow on the inner side of your foot. The type of arch you have helps you to decide amongst the myriad of shoe models out there just what kind of shoe and what kind shoe features you need to invest in. People with very high and very low arches are at greater risk of aches, pain and injury if they don’t choose the right shoe. So here’s a simple test you can do. Wet your feet (e.g. by the pool) and walk across some tiles or surface by the poolside where you can look at your footprints. Compare these to the pictures below and learn about your foot type and shoe choice:
High arched foot. This foot type needs to be pampered with a shoe that is flexible and has good cushioning. Comfort is what it is all about! What sports doctors call the “normal” arch. You lucky person! Let your heart and emotions rule your shoe choice, as most types of shoe are fine for you – BUT avoid the added features needed by the next foot type…Some call this the “flat” foot, and if you own this arch type, your shoe choice is governed by the need for greater support for those falling arches. A shoe with greater stability and arch support (also called medial posting, anti-pronation, etc) is what you need to choose. There is one thing to be aware of: some people appear to have a normal arch, but do have feet that roll inwards at the top of their arches. This in-rolling is called pronation, and becomes more marked when you run or jump as your body weight squashes your foot and accentuates the in-rolling. The pronation gets worse as your leg muscles get tired. People who pronate are more prone to foot pain and injuries, so they should also choose shoes with greater medial arch support.The best way to know for certain what your foot type is – saving you angst and money – is to pop into your favorite sports medicine clinic and let the doctor or podiatrist have a quick check of your feet. Inexpensive in time and money terms, and allows an assessment of related factors such as your ankles, knees and hips as these have a role to play in your footwear choice as well.Another important consideration is how wide the front of your foot is. Some people with slender feet which shoe manufacturers term “low volume.” With broader feet and those with bunions over that first toe joint, choosing a shoe with a wider fit will bring comfort and less problems.

Match your Shoes to your ActivityThe type of shoe that is used by competitive runners (lightweight racing flats) should not be the shoe of choice for most people who walk, jog, or even train for competition. The racing shoes have thinner outer soles and less cushioning and will wear out more quickly. The preferred shoe for most people is simply called a training shoe, and most models of shoes you find in the shops are just this.

Getting the Best Fit for your New Shoes How many times have you bought a shoe and later discovered that it was too tight or too loose after you actually used it outside the store? To save on this quiet agony, here are some shoe-fitting tips:

  • If your shoe is meant for your health and recreational jogging or running, don’t go to the store after you have been sitting down for a long time or conversely been walking about for hours. Both these activities can cause your feet to swell and you may end up buying a shoe that shows itself to be too large for those morning walks.
  • Conversely, if you intend to walk or run longer distances in your shoes, be aware that your feet swell as you exercise and as your socks soak up perspiration. It may be worth your while to buy your shoes just half a size larger if you are planning to run your first half-marathon or longer.
  • If you use socks when you exercise (as most people should), bring along the socks you usually use or intend to use. Wear these when you try on your shoes to get the best fit possible.
  • For the ladies, try not to size your shoes during those times when you feel you may be having water retention in your body – as the rest of the month will see your feet less swollen.
  • To check on how much a new shoe offers your feet in terms of cushioning or support, wear your current (soon to be “old”) shoes to the store. As soon as you try on the new shoes, you will be able to have an instantaneous comparison with what your feet are currently being treated to!
  • Your feet get larger as you get older. They elongate and get wider as you put as your ligaments get more lax, and especially if you start to put on weight. Your foot type and width may change over time. So be prepared that you may no longer be a US 7-1/2 D, and may have matured to a US 8EE. Don’t worry about this, and don’t take this personally. Enjoy the moment and don’t insist on forcing those feet into what you feel should be your shoe size!

Finally, when should you change your shoes and get new ones? You may have read a number of magical formulae that calculate the age of your shoes, or how many miles you have put into them as the way of determining when new shoes should be bought. These really are meant to be rough guides and there are many factors that may contribute to the aging of your shoes to the point that they need to be replaced. These include your body weight, style of walking or running, how often you use the shoes, and what kind of surfaces you exercise on. In Singapore, the high heat and humidity may contribute to earlier breakdown of shoe materials including the part of the sole that gives you cushioning and support.

So some useful indicators for replacement of your shoes include:

  • Obvious wearing out of the outer soles (usually black in colour). Once these are smooth and have lost the original pattern they first had, or when a lighter colour peeks through from under them (the mid sole), it’s time…
  • You sense that there is less cushioning or support from the shoes. This may be felt as increased pressure, ache or even pain under the balls of your feet or your arches. And you may start to develop aches and pain (in your feet, ankles, shins, knees, legs, low back) which you don’t normally have – and even when you have not increased how hard or how long you are walking or running.

Wishing you many miles of happy walking, jogging and running!

If you are a mild to moderate pronator, you should look for a stability shoe that provides arch support. These shoes have dual-density midsoles and supportive posts (made of hardened foam) to reduce pronation.

Over pronators, tall and heavy-set runners and bow-legged runners should go for motion-control shoes that have stiffer heels and a straight last — last is the shape of the shoe, and the mould on which it is made — to control the inward motion and keep the ankle-knee-hip alignment correct.

Lightweight runners with normal arches must buy neutral-cushioned shoes without added support, while supinators should go for cushioned shoes with a curved last that encourages the foot to turn inwards.

If injuries surface repeatedly over 12 to 16 weeks of running, then you know your shoes are the problem.  It’s best to buy a shoe that coordinates with your body mechanics to prevent injuries. The other option is to get a corrective insole customised according to your needs.

You should buy new shoes frequently if you are a avid runner or if you train daily.  I personally like to alternate my shoes daily & i have specific training shoes for the specific type of workout or run that i am doing.  I have shoes for the track, sprinting shoes, cross country shoes, shoes i perfer to weight train in, shoes i prefer to do speed agility plyometrics in, shoes i prefer to dance in.

I personally like Asics for running in general, specifically for my favorite track work, football field workouts, speed agility.  Asics are also excellent for long distance running & my treadmill workouts. I do not like a heavy or blocky shoes & I have high archs & they fit my foot perfectly.  I suggest Asics for many of my clients who have high archs or who really want to find a light weight shoe that delievers high amount of support for your archs & keeps your feet in proper alignment.  I am not endorsed by Asics, I just really love them!

When i am weight training i like to wear my Nike Shox NZ, i like to wear specific shoes depending on the work out that i am doing.  A cool feature Nike has, is you can customize your Nike Shox, i love bright & electric fashion, i love to customize my own kicks!  You can also personalize messages on the back of the Nike shoe, i put my name on it or I will put a motivational phrase for gifts to friends!

When i train on the track or football field i wear my Asics track shoes with the spikes.

If you are going to go for a run on the track, you can wear regular Asics running shoes.  Once you really get into running & you want to step it up & trian for speed, i recommend the Asics Track shoes, i love mine!  They are light as a feather, fit my foot perfectly, you will be amazing how fast you can fly!


When i teach Dance I prefer to wear

Adidas Originals, as they are low to the ground & very light weight.  My favorite Adidas shoes are my Adidas Originals gold metallic! (photo below)

by Shawn Rene Zimmerman

October 2012