Choosing a Running Shoe


Selecting the right running shoe can be a confusing venture. This guide will help you navigate the running shoe market and prepare you for a great running experience. Specialty running stores are the best place to make your initial purchase. They will have knowledgeable staff that understands the three main types of running shoes and how that relates to your foot type. Chain stores will not have staff trained to offer you the best advice. If you do not have a specialty running store close by, bring this guide with you to assist the staff in finding the appropriate shoe type for your foot. Road Runner Sports' Shoe Dog is a helpful web tool that can take some of the confusion out of selecting a shoe. After determining the type of shoe you need you can print out a list of shoes that would match your foot type and head to the store as an informed shopper.


Foot Type

There are three basic foot types and running shoes are categorized into three groups to match these foot types. This chart demonstrates the relationship of foot type, alignment and running shoe type. An easy way to assess your foot type is to look at the impression you leave when your foot is wet. Select a running shoe type that matches your foot type.


  • You may find that the appearance of your foot impression is between two of the foot types. In this case, choose the shoe type in the lower group of the diagram.
  • If you have a larger frame and a normal arch try a shoe with a bit more motion control.
  • Light framed runners with a normal arch and excellent core strength should try a shoe with a bit more cushioning.


A Perfect Fit

Once you have determined the type of shoe you need - try a variety of models and brands to find the perfect fit. Each shoe model and make will have a slightly different shape, contour, forefoot width and heel width. The following list will guide you to a perfect fit.

Shoe shape – Foot shape varies, some feet are relatively straight and others have a bit of a “C” curve to them. Pull the insole out of the shoe you are trying on, stand on it to see if it matches the outline of your foot.

Forefoot width – Some people are more comfortable with a snug fit while others like a little room to wiggle the toes. This is a preference issue; research has shown that it does not affect the mechanics.

Length – When you are standing and laced up there should be a little finger’s width gap between the longest toe and the end of the shoe.

Heel cup – Heels vary in their width so you will need to try on different shoes to find the brand or model that cradles your heel snuggly.


Points to Consider

  • Selecting a shoe that matches your foot type and provides you with a perfect fit is more important than the technological features. Don’t be wooed by the latest feature.
  • A quality running shoe typically retails for at least $70. Beware of shoes that retail for less than this because they are often replicas or lower quality models.
  • Shoes require about 24 hours to recover following a run (yes, they recover faster in the fridge). Don’t wear your training shoes when you are not training. If you train twice per day you should have at least two pairs of training shoes.
  • Replace your shoes regularly. In a recent survey, runners training in a pair of shoes for more than four months were more likely to be injured. If you are beginning to feel more aches and pains the first thing you should consider is how much use have your shoes had. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict how much training a shoe will be able to sustain and still offer you the support and cushioning you need. Runners who train on trails and have great biomechanics may not need new shoes as frequently.   If you have to run on sidewalks or have a larger frame, you may want to consider replacing your shoes more frequently.
  • A high quality insole can improve the quality level of your running shoe. Often, if a shoe company is selling a low priced version it is because you are getting a cheap insole. For $20-$40 you can give your shoe a serious upgrade that will often last through 3-4 pairs of shoes. Diabetic Shoes Hub has a nice selection of quality insoles for a reasonable price.

Product Review

Propet - Walking Pro orthotic insoles

I am pretty finicky about arch supports / insoles. My arch type is between neutral and high which is usually a hard foot type to find a good match for. Currently I run 25 miles per week and am on my feet at work 70% of my day. I have been using the "Propet - Walking Pro" insole for 4 weeks now and have been very impressed. The construction of this insole is a memory foam covering over a 3/4 length semirigid orthotic. At first I felt like the insole was too thick and provided too much arch support. However, as the memory foam began to mold to my foot I have found these insoles to be the most comfortable arch support / insoles I have ever tested. These insoles are a beautiful blend of support and cushion. Memory foam tends to have very good durability compared to other cushioning material so I anticipate that these will be comfortable for the long haul.

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Bryan Whitesides MPT, OCS

Physical Therapist

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