How to Pick the Right Training Shoe

January 12, 2011

Although brand name, style, weight and price are major factors when choosing a fresh pair of training kicks, they're not the only things to consider before dropping serious cash. Instead, foot type, foot strike and stride pattern should be an athlete's main concerns when deciding which shoes are best.

Most shoes are designed for a specific type of foot, so knowing your foot type, strike and stride pattern will narrow the search. A simple way to discover all three aspects is to create footprints by running across a long sheet of paper barefooted, with inked rolled across the soles.

Foot Type
The three basic types are flat, high arched and neutral. Your feet are flat if the arch is collapsed and your entire foot contacts the ground when standing [footprint number 3]. You have high arches if your feet are at a fixed plantar flexion with a distinctly hollow midsection when bearing weight [footprint numbers zero and one]. A neutral foot type  is the most common—the sole is neither flat nor high, and weight is distributed evenly across the foot [footprint number two].

Foot Strike
There are also three types of foot strikers. Heel strikers land each stride by forcefully contacting the heel on the ground first, then rolling their weight onto the rest of the foot. Forefoot strikers run on their toes without touching their heels or midfeet to the ground. Midfoot striking is ideal—the weight of the body lands on the balls of the feet during each strike to the ground.

Stride Pattern
This is determined by how the feet align with each other when striking the ground. Overpronators [or pronators] tend to roll their foot inward from the heel to the toe with every stride. Supinators roll their foot outward, away from each other. A neutral stride pattern occurs when the foot is straight.

Once you discover your foot type, strike and stride pattern, it’s time to pick the ideal training shoe. Just about every brand has a shoe designed for your specific needs, and by taking a closer look at the features offered, you can determine which brand and style fit your foot best. Therunningadvisor.com provides a complete breakdown and can help you find the perfect sneaker. Also, be sure to consult a knowledgeable professional at a training shoe store to learn which brands offer the kinds of shoes that will work best for you.

Wearing the correct type of  shoe for your feet [even if it's not your favorite brand] will enhance your training and help take it to the next level.

For those who aren’t sure of their shoe size, below are some quick tips.

Quick Tips for Grabbing Your Correct Shoe Size

-       Each brand is different in sizing, so always try shoes on before purchasing.

-       Try on shoes later in the day [after 2 p.m.], when your feet have swelled to their maximum size.

-       A correctly sized shoe should have approximately a half-inch of space between the front of the shoe and your longest toe.

-       When trying on new shoes, wear the type of sock you normally train in.

-       If you must wear a specific team shoe or brand, and it does not meet your needs, custom-fitted orthotic inserts will help create a better fit. Just make sure to try the shoes on with the orthotics before purchasing.

Source:  marathontraining.com, therunningadvisor.com
Photo:  runningshopsaz.com, about.com

Matt Siracusa
Matt Siracusa
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