4.21.20

How To Choose The Right Pair of Running Shoes

To get the most out of your run, you need a pair of shoes to help your body operate as efficiently as possible (while remaining comfortable). The first step to choosing the right pair of running shoes is understanding how your feet work.

Female runner running on asphalt in Nike gear with lush green of trees and grass in the background.


The Science Of Your Stride

With every step, you generate force that must be absorbed and distributed across your foot and through your entire body. To safely do this, your foot becomes flexible upon impact, expanding and rolling slightly inward (this action is also referred to as pronation). As you move through your stride towards toe-off, your foot then becomes more rigid as the muscles and ligaments in your legs prepare to launch you forward into your next step. This entire process (known as your gait cycle) happens in less than a second.

With so many moving parts, it’s no surprise that achieving a smooth, natural stride is easier said than done. The mechanics of running are unique to every person, but it’s important to remember that everybody pronates. It’s the foot’s natural motion. So when deciding on the best type of shoe for your feet, it’s best not to ask, “Do my feet pronate?” but rather, “How much do my feet pronate?” Some feet roll in too far (overpronation) while others don’t become flexible enough (supination). And without the right shoes, both can cause discomfort or leave you vulnerable to injury.

So, what’s the best way to find out how your foot operates? That’s easy. All you need is a piece of paper and a little water.


The Footprint Test

  1. Wet the bottom of your foot.
  2. Step onto the piece of paper.

Just like that, you have all the information you need to choose the right pair of running shoes. Let’s look at your footprint:

Choose The Right Running Shoe 3


Arch Types

Flat
Can you see the full outline of your foot? Then that means you have low arches (commonly known as flat feet). Flat feet tend to flex more than other arch types and are more likely to overpronate. Since your feet don’t have as much natural arch support, you’ll need to find shoes to provide that support for you during the gait cycle. Look for stability shoes with tech features to help stabilize your feet and prevent injury.

Medium
If your footprint shows the ball and heel of your foot connected by a wide band, you have medium arches and plenty of options for shoes that will work with your foot type. Try neutral shoes or, for a little extra support, stability shoes.

High
If your footprint shows a very narrow band (or perhaps no band) between the heel and ball of your foot, you have high arches. Feet with high arches pronate less than other arch types and can tend towards supination (the outward rolling of the heel upon impact). This makes it difficult for your body to safely absorb the force you create with each step. The best shoe type for you is a neutral running shoe with plenty of cushioning.

Closeup of female athlete's running shoes -- Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit (the sunrise collection).


The Shoe Types

Stability
Stability running shoes are key if you have flat or medium arches.

Flat feet have the tendency to overpronate (roll too far inward). Without the right pair of shoes to help stabilize your feet, overpronation can put extra stress on your joints and muscles. Some stability shoes are made specifically for flat feet and are described as “motion control.” These usually feature posts or wedges in the midsole to support flat arches and reduce excessive rolling.

But even if you’re in the pronation “sweet spot” with medium arches, a little extra support never hurts, especially since feet are more likely to overpronate as your body tires. So, if you’re a long-distance runner with medium arches, a stability shoe is a great choice for fighting fatigue.

Stability shoes pair light, responsive foams with firmer midsole materials, combining cushioning and support to keep you running strong and injury free.

Neutral
If you’re a high-arched runner with a tendency to supinate, it’s best to find a shoe to enhance your natural running mechanics.

Neutral running shoes are lightweight and comfortably cushioned. They’re all about a smooth ride and allowing your foot to move naturally, so they feature soft, responsive midsoles that return energy with every step.



For specific shoe recommendations, check out Eastbay’s best running shoes of the year.

And if you’re looking for specialty running shoes like racing flats or trail shoes, head on over to eastbay.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 Comments

  • Frankie:

    I’m going to get a new shoes

  • Christopher Pryor:

    Great read!! Definitely have been trying to find a shoe that fits my needs as a runner! This has helped me a tremendous amount to move in the best direction!

  • Fritz Loban:

    What shoes are good for tendonitis …. in basketball shoes and what shoes are for running and walking

The Differences Between the Nike Zoom Running Shoes

Discover the differences between all the Nike Zoom running shoes to find out which pairs is best for you.

Best Running Shoes 2020

Spring is the perfect time to replace your worn-out running shoes with a new pair. Check out our list of the year's best running shoes.

How To Choose The Right Pair of Running Shoes

The right pair of shoes can help your body operate more efficiently during your run. Here's how to choose the right pair of running shoes:

Top Kids’ Track Spikes

Looking for a new pair of spikes to dominate this spring season? Check out our top recommendations of kids' track spikes!

Track and Field Gear Guide

It's time to start gearing up for track and field season. Our Track & Field Gear Guide is here to help — providing you with the info you need to upgrade your game.

Eastbay’s Turkey Trot: A Decade of Making a Difference

Over the past 10 years, Eastbay's Turkey Trot has become a tradition for many in Marathon County, WI, as a celebration of both holiday and community.

Cold-Weather Gear

Eastbay has all the cold-weather gear you need to withstand whatever Mother Nature throws your way while training outdoors this season.

Man and woman running side by side on pavement covered in fallen leaves.

Best Gifts for Runners

Eastbay offers thousands of gifts that keep on giving. Check out our best gifts for runners including shoes, shorts and jackets.

Brooks Ghost 12 Feature Image

4 Reasons to Buy the Brooks Ghost 12

Two professional athletes give their thoughts on the new Brooks Ghost 12 running shoes. Here's four reasons why you should consider buying them:

Female cross country runner running with trees in background

Best Cross Country Shoes for Practice and Competition

Cross country season is here, and we've got the fastest spikes around so that you can set new personal bests and dominate every meet.

Brooks Beasts Team Training Feature Image

Benefits of a Running Team, According to the Brooks Beasts

By training as a running team instead of individual athletes, the Brooks Beasts Track Club provides its athletes with unique benefits.

Katie Mackey Feature Image

5 Warmup Do’s and Don’ts from Katie Mackey

Katie Mackey, 1500m and 5K runner for the Brooks Beasts, shares her tips for what to do (and not to do) during warm ups.

See More