Last Updated on March 14, 2022 by Janie Wilson
When you’re in need of a new pair of running shoes, it can seem like there are endless options. Every kind of fit, shape, size, color, and design is out there, and it’s hard to know what’s actually going to be best for you and your running. You know that your shoes are an important part of your ankle, back, knee, and hip health, but it can be tough to know what to do about it. With that in mind, the following will explore a few key features you want to pay attention to when shopping for new running shoes.
Most people have a pretty good idea of their shoe size, but each manufacturer has its own understanding of that size. If you’ve not done so in recent years, it would be a good idea to get your feet properly sized; it turns out that way more people are wearing the wrong shoe size than you’d expect. You might discover that you need a wide or narrow fitting shoe or that you’ve been off half a size all this time. Properly fitting shoes can reduce the risk of blisters forming, encourage a healthy gait that doesn’t damage your back, hips, or neck, and encourage foot health. It can also reduce the risk of injury as you’ll be placing your foot down on the ground in a natural and comfortable way if your shoes fit. All of these things are critically important if you want to continue running for years to come.
When it comes to supporting, there’s a little variance in needs. If you often run on rocky or uneven terrain, like in the forest, you’re probably looking for ankle support in addition to arch support. Depending on how arched your foot is, you might need more or less support. It’s worth noting that you can get this support from shoes themselves, but also, if you find a pair that you absolutely love that don’t give your arch all that you need, you can get insoles and put those within the shoes. If you go that route, it’s best not to get one-size-fits-all insoles but ones that are designed to support your feet in particular.
Of course, the right shoe for you isn’t all science. How a shoe feels on your foot makes a major difference. Something like a heavy tongue can make a big difference in whether or not you enjoy wearing a shoe. Some people like a thicker sole, while other people want to feel connected to the ground beneath them. Never ignore your instinctual feelings about a shoe; trust your feet to tell you when something is right or wrong.
The outsole is the part of the shoe that touches the ground, and this part is often what determines if a shoe is non-slip or has a firm grip on the ground. Running on the beach, in the woods, or on pavement will require different textures on the outsole of your shoe. This is also the part of the shoe that you’re going to have to find a balance between durability and weight, as this can often be the heaviest part of the shoe. The correct running shoes for you are going to last, but also not weigh your feet down when you’re trying to lift them up. It’s a good idea to walk around a little once you’ve tried on a shoe to see if the weight is an issue for you.
If your toes are squished together at the tip of your shoe and unable to spread out as is natural and comfortable, you are going to run into some problems. Things like athlete’s foot will be more likely, as are blisters, other fungi, and gait problems. Make sure that the toe of the shoe isn’t too constricting, but you also probably want a cap or bumper on the tip to help reduce the issue of stubbing your toes while running.
If you live in a hot climate or push yourself to your sweaty maximum often, you’re going to want to think about breathability. This is a big part of whether a shoe is going result in a smelly foot or not. Of course, breathability comes at the expense of waterproofing. If you tend to run in muddy or rainy climates, you might prefer a waterproof option.
The above six things are all crucial components of a good running shoe. Of course, if you have a particular issue or health problem related to running, you’re going to want to focus on elements of a shoe that offer the support you need in that regard.