Runners: you see them everywhere. In groups or solo, there is one thing that ties all runners together, and that is the love and dedication they all seem to have for the sport/activity. For some, it’s almost addictive — and we can see why! It gets you outside and into shape, and it pumps you up with a steady flow of happy endorphins to last you at least a few hours. Yes, running can be hard on the body. But a part of that could be attributed to wearing the wrong shoes. Gone are the days when you could go to the Sears sneaker section and pick out a pair of Nikes and call it a day. Now, there are stores devoted to running shoes, gear and accessories. These stores often provide specialized tests to figure out which shoe is best for your foot. If you’re a seasoned runner, you probably already know the terms for the way your feet move when running, but if you’re just starting out, it’s important to know not just how to run, but how YOU run. Once you know this, you can find the perfect shoe that will be most comfortable and have the best chance of preventing injury to the foot (or leg, or knee, for that matter!).
Three Types of Runners
Finding the proper running shoe for you depends almost solely (no pun intended) on your pronation tendencies. What is pronation, anyway? The Asics website describes it in the following way: “Pronation is part of the natural movement of the human body and refers to the way your foot rolls inward for impact distribution upon landing.”
When it comes to pronation, or movement patterns, there are three types of runners:
Underpronators/Supinators: These feet tend to turn outward when running, and you can tell by looking at the bottom of a worn-in shoe if the owner is a supinator or not. If they are, the outside perimeter of the shoe will show the most wear.
The main problems that can occur with this type of runner are injuries related to lack of shock absorption, which lead to stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and shin splints. This means that the best type of running shoe for supinators have plenty of cushioning (midsole, outside, heel, etc.) as well as flexibility, which helps in impact distribution.
Pronators: These feet tend to hit the ground proportionally, in an even manner, and thus are also described as ‘neutral’. This type of runner can have her/his pick of shoes for the most part, but evenly distributed cushioning is recommended, particularly for beginner runners. Others may prefer to feel more contact with the ground. Neutral runners don’t need the stability or level of cushioning/support that the other categories do.
Overpronators: These feet tend to roll inward upon impact, causing the inside of the shoe to wear down. What they need is a shoe that will provide stability, meaning maximum support, strategically placed throughout the shoe to keep the foot from turning inward and causing injury. Some common injuries with overpronators tend to be Achilles’ tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, runner’s knee, and stress fractures.
Where to Go
Fleet Feet– With locations all over the United States, Fleet Feet Sports is an extremely popular choice for runners. Not only do the store employees track your natural gait (to see whether you’re a supinator, pronator, or overpronator), but at certain locations, they have technology to view your foot in 3D, measuring heel to toe length, ball width, and arch height, making your measurements as precise as possible. They also carry running wear and gear. This is your one stop shop for whatever you need running-wise.
The Best Women’s Running Shoes of 2018
- Saucony Ride 10 Running Shoe– This was rated best overall shoe for its versatility, responsiveness and comfort. If you’re a marathon runner, avoid this shoe for those occasions. It’s listed as too soft and not durable enough for running those distances all at once.
- Brooks Ravenna 8– This was rated ‘best buy’ for its affordability. This Brooks shoe offers the stability that is needed if you happen to overpronate, as well as cushioning if you have feet that are prone to injury or stress fractures from heavy impact. The only con to this shoe is its weight — but unless you’re a regular long-distance runner, weight shouldn’t be a huge issue for you.
- Asics GT-2000 6 Running Shoe– This shoe is best for overpronators. Why? Check out this quote from bestproducts.com: “If you have low arches, overpronation can wreak havoc on your body, which takes the fun out of running. To protect your muscles and joints, a shoe in the stability class is a must, as they’re made with added medial arch support to reduce overpronation and promote more natural mechanics.”
- Nike Zoom Fly Breaking2 Edition– If you simply must have a stylish foot while getting that workout, this shoe is the one for you. Pros: Extra cushioning. Cons: Pricey.