How to choose Running Shoes
There are many factors to consider when choosing a running shoe such as the surface you will be running on. Road/track running will require less traction and are lighter weight. Road-running shoes are light and flexible are made to cushion or stabilize feet during repetitive strides on hard, even surfaces. They are designed for pavement and occasional runs on packed surfaces with slight irregularities. These shoes are also designed for runners who race on smooth track and field surfaces. Trail-running shoes are designed for off-road routes with rocks, mud, roots or other obstacles. They are enhanced with aggressive tread for solid traction and fortified to offer under foot protection. Trail running shoes should have good traction, support and cushion for uneven ground. Another important factor in choosing running shoe is your weight. The heavier you are,the greater the impact between your foot and the ground will be. Excess weight may require you to purchase shoes with additional support.
There are many different types of running shoes such as neutral shoes, stability shoes, motion control shoes, barefoot shoes and minimalist shoes. Neutral shoes provide shock absorption and some medial (arch-side) support. Stability shoes are good for runners who experience mild to moderate overpronation. They often include a firm post to reinforce the arch-side of each midsole. Motion control shoes are best for runners who exhibit moderate to severe overpronation and they offer such features as a stiffer heels. The soles of barefoot shoes provides the bare minimum in protection from potential hazards from the ground. Many have no cushion in the heel pad and a very thin layer between your skin and the ground. All barefoot shoes feature a zero drop from heel to toe. Drop is the difference between the height of the heel to the height of the toe. Minimalist shoes provide extremely lightweight construction with little to no arch support and a heel drop of about 4-8mm to encourage a natural running motion but also offer cushioning and flex. Traditional running shoes feature a 10-12mm drop from the heel to the toe and offer more heel cushioning.
Some characteristics of running shoes uppers are:
(1) Synthetic leather is derived principally from nylon and polyester and it is lighter and more breathable than real leather.
(2) Nylon and nylon mesh are durable materials that are used to reduce weight and boost breath ability.
(3) Waterproof/breathables uppers use a membrane that blocks moisture from entering while allowing feet to breathe. These shoes with membranes keep feet dry in wet environments.
Some characteristics of running shoes midsoles:
(1) EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) is a type of foam that is used for running shoes midsoles to provide cushioning.
(2) Posts are areas of firmer EVA added to create harder-to-compress sections in the midsole.
(3) Plates are made of thin somewhat flexible material that stiffens the forefoot of the shoe.
(4) Shanks stiffen the midsole and protect the heel and arch. They
boost a shoe’s firmness when traveling on rocky terrain.
(5) TPU (thermoplastic urethane) is a flexible plastic used in some
midsoles as a stabilization device.
Most road running shoes are with rugged carbon rubber in the heel. Blown rubber which provides more cushioning in the forefoot. Trail runners tend to have all carbon rubber outsoles to better withstand trail wear while road racing shoes are frequently all blown rubber to reduce weight.
Many specialty running stores have equipment that can analyze your gait (how you walk/run) and your foot-type. This evaluation will help you know if you need support to prevent your foot from rolling inward (also called pronating). There are many different foot-types, but the main three are:
(1) Neutral footed runners where your foot comes into contact with the ground toward the middle of the foot.
(2) Overpronation is when your foot rolls inward to far.
(3) Underpronation is when your foot rolls inward to far resulting in the smaller, outer toes of your feet doing more than necessary at the push off.
Also if you have a well used pair of running shoes, check the wear pattern on the soles to help determine your running mechanics. Pronation shows a wear pattern centralized to the ball of the foot and a small portion of the heel. This is the foot’s normal or natural inward roll following the heel striking the ground. This neutral pronation helps absorb impact or relieves pressure on knees or joints. Overpronation is shown by wear patterns along the inside edge of your shoe, and is an exaggerated form of the foot’s natural inward roll. Overpronation is a common trait that affects the majority of runners leaving them at risk of knee pain and injury. Overpronators need stability or motion control shoes. Underpronation (supination) is marked by wear along the outer edge of your shoe. It is an outward rolling of the foot resulting in insufficent impact reduction at landing. Relatively few runners underpronate but those who do need shoes with plenty of cushioning and flexibility.