Before we dive into how to pick the right shoe there are a couple things we need to clear up.
Shoes are an extension of you. Shoes are not meant to perfectly hold your arch, give you the correct foot strike or do all the work for you. We have uploaded an insane amount of knowledge to our YouTube Channel to help you screen yourself and exercises to issues you may find. Check that out after finishing this article.
Running stores are excellent at helping you pick a shoe so we’re going to leave that to them. They can help you decide between neutral shoes, motion control shoes if you pronate/supinate and so forth. Find a running store near you, have them watch you walk and run to point you in the right direction.
There are a few things we’ve learned over the years to help you narrow down your options.
- Shoe stiffness. If you suffer from a lot of foot pain, arthritis in the foot, issues with your toes then chances are you need a shoe that is not as flexible. Its all about the physics. Your foot is a lever to push off of, but it is a lever with moving joints. So if you have toe or midfoot issues then giving yourself a stiffer lever will put more of the work on your calf and less on your foot. If you have shoes that you absolutely love and just want to make those more stiff than you can buy over the counter shank inserts or even have them custom made.
- Toe Box. Shoes with a wider toe box are always a plus. Your toes need to have space to move instead of being crushed inside of a shoe. This is critical for people with turf toe, bunions or issues with any of their toes. Let your feet move.
- Toe Drop. This is a measure of how much of a slope their is in the shoe from your heel down to your toes. Most athletic shoes you’ll pick up are going to be somewhere around a 12mm toe drop. The reason this matters is because ankle mobility is CRUCIAL for all movement. Especially runners. When someone lacks ankle mobility then a taller heel will help you compensate. If you are lacking ankle mobility and cannot seem to correct it or haven’t done so yet then maybe a taller toe drop, such as 12mm, is appropriate for you. If your ankle mobility isn’t an issue then consider something with a lower toe drop like zero drop shoes or even a 4mm. Keep in mind that some zero drop shoes do sacrifice stability to get you there. If your calves aren’t tight then don’t make them tight by running in a 12mm toe drop.
- Shoe Width. This is different from the toe box. When you put your shoes on, look down at them. Take note of how much of the base of the shoe (the sole) is wider than your foot both in the toes and the heels. You want it wider than your foot so that your base of support is better but not too wide where the shoe does all of the work for you. Checkout the Facebook video below so you can better see what we are talking about.
- Cushion. High cushion shoes are becoming more and more popular and there’s nothing wrong with that. Keep in mind that as the level of cushion increases you do lose some support. Everyones different. If you have fallen arches and really need pronation control then keep this in mind when buying shoes for cushion support.
Remember you shouldn’t have to spend a long time to break in shoes just to find out if you like them. The shoe that’s right for you should feel great almost immediately. If you start experiencing odd foot, knee, hip or low back issues then consider trying a new pair of shoes.