Athlete Resource Center - Running - Tips For Choosing Proper-Fitting Running Shoe | Eastbay

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Tips For Choosing Proper-Fitting Running Shoe

Selecting the correct running shoe for your feet is essential in order to get the best ride possible. Not only is the correct shoe important, but the correct size and fit is crucial as well.

Eastbay Running/Court Copywriter, J. Sisko Article date: 08/01/12

Running Shoe Fit

As basic as it sounds, wearing running shoes that fit your feet is one of the most important choices you can make to ensure your run is effective and enjoyable. It's a major, but correctable, oversight when runners choose their running shoes based on function rather than form. Proper fitting running shoes will help increase shock absorption/cushioning, motion control, flexibility and durability, therefore improving comfort and decreasing the risk of injury to make your overall running experience more enjoyable.


Check Your Gait

Before you begin, it's very important to identify your running gait. Knowing your gait will help you decide which running shoes will help your body become as efficient as possible. Running in the wrong shoe—one that doesn't match your gait—can hurt a runner.


Do you know your own gait?! It's fairly simple to identify. Below are explanations of the three different types of gaits and associated running styles, plus a video that will show you how to determine your running gait.


Running gaits are characterized in three different patterns. Which one do you have?


Underpronation (or Supination): Underpronation occurs a when a runner lands on the outside part of the foot. The pressure remains on the outside edge, from the initial contact all the way through midstance and into toe-off, with virtually no movement of the ankle toward the inside.


If you're an underpronator, you don't get that natural cushioning from your own feet. Therefore, look for Cushioned running shoes with added shock absorption via the midsole or those that feature various cushioning technologies. Brands such as Nike Air-Sole, Nike Zoom, ASICS Gel, Brooks DNA and New Balance Abzorb all provide technologies in their shoes to accommodate an underpronation.


Neutral: Neutral runners also land on the outside portion of their feet; however, from there, a slight role of the foot and ankle towards the midline of the body through midstance occurs to help absorb the shock. At toe-off, the pressure is very uniform across the front of the foot, with slightly more pressure on the ball of the foot. Because of this, neutral runners should choose Cushioned running shoes that don't include extra motion control devices that you really don't need.


The Mizuno Wave Creation is one example of a cushioned running shoe that will perform well for the neutral runner or the underpronator. It features Dynamotion Fit™ that allows for unparalleled fit while in motion and an AP+ midsole that improves the quality of the running experience by offering increased rebound and a "bouncier" feeling. The Mizuno Wave® plate dissipates shock, reduces impact on the body and returns energy to your legs.


Overpronation: Overpronation occurs when a runner lands on the outside portion of the foot, and the foot and ankle then roll significantly towards the inside through midstance—the greater the roll, the more excessive the pronation. At toe-off, the pressure will be more excessive under the ball of the foot/big toe, as the body uses this area to try and stabilize the foot.


A mild over pronator should look for Stability running shoes that have minimal motion control built into the shoe, such as medial posting or dual-density midsoles. If you're a severe overpronator, you should choose Motion Control running shoes that have all the anti-overpronation devices you need, such as the Rollbar® from New Balance, Saucony's CS stability zone and Brooks' Diagonal Rollbar®.


The Gel-Kayano series has been a favorite stability running shoe for mild overpronators since its beginning, and the ASICS Gel-Kayano 19 continues that trend by featuring a significantly decreased weight, but maintaining the classic Gel-Kayano ride, comfort and stability.


The Brooks Beast for men or the Brooks Ariel for women have long been the motion control shoe of choice for the severe overpronator. These sturdy running shoes provide the perfect mix of stability and comfort, pampering runners with low or flat arches that can lead to excessive pronation. Featuring full-length Brooks DNA, the Beast & Ariel offer heel-to-toe protection for the foot while serving up an individually customized ride with optimal cushioning.


Hopefully, we've helped you determine which running gait you have. If not, call our Customer Care Center at 800-826-2205 and ask for help sizing or fitting your shoe. Our shoe experts will be happy to answer any questions or concerns. Also, visit Eastbay's Running Shoe Finder that details everything a runner needs to know to help find the correct running shoe for your feet.


Important Shoe-Fitting Tips

We've compiled some general guidelines and basic myth busters to help you choose a shoe with the correct fit:


1) The best running shoe is the one that fits you and your running style. While every running shoe company has its own unique fit, not everyone can wear every brand. You want a quality running shoe that cushions and supports the foot, with a snug-fitting heel and a comfortable toe box.


2) Your feet increase in size at the end of the day or after a workout. Be sure to try on new shoes at these times to assure a proper fit. Wear the socks that you would normally run in when trying on your shoes. Your left and right foot may differ by as much as a full size, so you should always fit the larger foot. Feet also get larger with age. We recommend you measure your feet or have them measured at least once a year.


3) Never allow for a "breaking-in" period. Running shoes should always feel comfortable from the moment you first put them on your feet. If they hurt in your living room, they will definitely hurt when you're out on the road.


4) When determining if a shoe is too long or too short, put on both shoes on and stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Have someone else feel where your toes are in relation to the end of the shoe. There should be a thumb's-width space between your longest toe and the end of the running shoe. Always check the length while standing up straight. Sitting down or bending over causes your weight to shift and your toes will not be fully extended.


5) If you require a shoe that fits wider or narrower in the forefoot (front part of the shoe), look for a brand that offers varying width styles. Most shoe manufacturers offer at least some models in different widths.


6) Well-fitting running shoes should have a rear portion that allows your heel to move, but prevents it from slipping. Be sure that your arch fits comfortably on the premolded arch of the running shoe. The shoe's arch should not be too firm or hit your arch too closely to the ball of the foot.


7) If the upper portion of your running shoe protrudes over the midsole, the shoe is probably too narrow for your foot


8) Women shouldn't run in men's running shoes. Running shoes for men are built on a wider last than a women's shoe, so they are generally too wide for a woman's foot, and do not offer the appropriate amount of stability. There is a common misconception that women's shoes are inferior to men's or that women's shoes are just scaled down versions of the men's models. This simply is not true. Women's running shoes are made with the same materials and quality as their male counterparts, but are constructed to fit the female foot.


It is estimated that 9 out of 10 people wear their shoes too small. Getting the proper fit is the most important factor when buying new running shoes. Take your time trying on new shoes in the comfort of your home and ensure they fit properly, so your next run will be worry (and pain) free!


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