How To Choose The Right Pair Of Running Shoes

To get the most out of your run, you need a pair of shoes that will help your body operate as efficiently and comfortably as possible. The first step to finding those shoes is understanding how your feet work.


The Science Of Your Stride

How To Choose The Correct Shoe 111

With every step, you generate a huge amount of force that has to be absorbed and distributed across your foot and up through your entire body. To do this safely, your foot becomes more flexible at impact, expanding and rolling slightly inward. As you move through your stride towards toe-off, your foot then becomes more rigid, and the muscles and ligaments in your legs prepare to launch you forward into your next step. This entire chain reaction 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 complicated and unique to every person. Some feet roll in too far. Others don’t become flexible enough. 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 some 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 take a look at your footprint:

Choose The Right Running Shoe 3

Flat Arch

Can you see the full outline of your foot? Then chances are, you have flat arches. Flat feet tend to be very flexible and more likely to overpronate. You’ll want to look for stability or motion control shoes to help stabilize your feet and prevent injury.

Medium Arch

If your footprint shows the ball and heel of your foot connected by a wide band, you have medium arches. This means you probably have a pretty normal running stride and don’t require a lot of correction. Look for neutral or stability shoes to cushion and support your feet.

High Arch

If your footprint shows a very narrow band between the heel and ball of your foot, that means you have high arches. Feet with high arches don’t pronate (roll inward) much at all at impact, and this makes it difficult for your body to safely absorb the impact you create with every step. To help with this, look for neutral running shoes that have plenty of cushioning.


The Shoe Types

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If you’re not experiencing any excessive motion or rolling at impact, then your stride probably doesn’t need any correcting. Instead, you can focus on enhancing your natural running mechanics. Neutral running shoes are lightweight and comfortably cushioned. They’re all about a smooth ride and letting your foot move naturally, so they feature soft, responsive midsoles that return energy with every step.

Our Top Picks: ASICS GEL-Nimbus 20, Brooks Ghost 10, Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34


Even if you only pronate, or roll inward, slightly, having a little extra support can go a long way. The more tired a runner becomes, the more they’re going to pronate. So if you’re in it for the long haul, a stability shoe is a great choice for fighting that fatigue. These shoes pair light, responsive foam with firmer midsole materials, combining cushioning and support to keep you running strong and injury free.

Our Top Picks: ASICS GEL-Kayano 24, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18, Mizuno Wave Inspire 14

Motion Control

While all feet should pronate, or roll in slightly at impact, sometimes this motion goes too far. If you drastically overpronate, there’s too much inward movement at impact, and this puts extra stress on your joints and muscles. Motion control running shoes work to limit this movement by stabilizing your feet. These shoes usually have posts or wedges in the midsole that support flat feet and help limit motion, especially on the medial side.

Our Top Pick: Brooks Beast 16


  • 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

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