Which shoe is right for you?
The simple answer is that in general no one specific shoe is going to be perfect for you. Your footwear needs can change based upon your fitness level, amount of training, injuries, or even the season. But it is imperative that you select from the proper category of support or cushioning based upon your foot type.
FOOT TYPE: Normal
Normal feet have a normal-sized arch and leave an imprint that has a flare but shows the forefoot and heel connected by a wide band.
Foot characteristics: A normal foot lands on the outside of the heel, then rolls inward (pronates) slightly to absorb shock. Runners with a normal foot and normal weight are usually considered biomechanically efficient and don’t require motion-control shoes. They can run in either cushioning, lightweight, or stability shoes.
Best shoes: Cushioning shoes or Stability shoes with moderate control features such as a two-density midsole.
FOOT TYPE: Flat
Flat feet have a low arch and leave a nearly complete imprint. That is, the imprint looks like the whole sole of the foot.
Foot characteristics: This imprint usually indicates an overpronated foot that strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls inward (pronates) excessively. Over time, this can cause many different kinds of overuse injuries.
Best shoes: Motion-control shoes, or stability shoes with firm midsoles and control features that reduce the degree of pronation. Stay away from highly cushioned, curved-lasted shoes that lack stability and control.
FOOT TYPE: High Arch
High-arched feet leave an imprint showing a very narrow band connecting the forefoot and heel.
Foot characteristics: A curved, high-arched foot is generally termed a supinated or underpronated foot (the terms are synonymous). This type of foot doesn’t pronate enough, so it’s not an effective shock absorber.
Best shoes: Cushioned shoes with plenty of flexibility to encourage foot motion. Stay away from motion-control or stability shoes that reduce foot mobility
Now that I know my foot type, which shoes will work best for me?
Each running shoe is assigned to one of the categories below. Select the proper category based on your foot type and then head to your shoe department.
Structured cushioning shoes offer a good blend of cushioning, medial support and durability. To provide stability, these shoes often have a medial post or dual-density midsole. They are usually built on a semicurved last.
You should buy these shoes if: you are a midweight runner who doesn’t have any severe motion-control problems and wants a shoe with some medial support and good durability. Runners with normal arches often do fine in stability shoes.
Cushioned shoes generally have the softest (or most cushioned) midsoles and the least medial support. They are usually built on a semi-curved or curved last to encourage foot motion, which is helpful for supinators/ underpronators (who have rigid, immobile feet).
You should buy these shoes if: you are an efficient runner who doesn’t overpronate and doesn’t need any extra medial support. Runners with high arches often do best in cushioned shoes.
Lightweight training shoes are lighter versions of standard trainers. Usually built on a semicurved or curved last, lightweight trainers are for fast-paced training or racing. Some lightweight trainers are relatively stable; others are not.
You should buy these shoes if: you are a quick, efficient runner who wants a light second shoe for fast-paced training. Or: if you want a racing shoe, but want more support and cushioning than you’d get from one of the pure, superlight racers.
Maximum Support shoes are the most rigid, control-oriented running shoes. Designed to limit overpronation (or slow the rate at which a runner overpronates), maximum support shoes are generally heavier but very durable. They may include features such as a medial post (for pronation control), a polyurethane midsole (for midsole durability) and a carbon rubber outsole (for outsole durability). Many are built on a straight last, which offers stability and maximum medial support.
You should buy these shoes if: you are an extreme overpronator who needs control features and places a premium on durability. Or: if you wear orthotics and want a firm midsole and deep heel counter. Or: if you are a heavy runner who needs extra durability and control. Runners with flat feet often do best in maximum support shoes.