Friday, January 6, 2012

How to Choose Running Shoes

      You need to have optimal training advice and equipment to ensure success in fitness for this new year. One of the most underreported information for the athlete is how to choose running and athletic shoes. Not choosing the right shoes can be detrimental to your performance and even cause injury. So, we have provided you with invaluable information  to make that right decision when purchasing  athletic and running shoes. This is what we  found.

Road Runners or Trail Runners?

Road running shoes are designed for pavement and occasional forays onto packed surfaces with slight irregularities (fire roads, nature trails, wood-chip paths). Light and flexible, they're made to cushion or stabilize feet during repetitive strides on hard, even surfaces.
Trail running shoes are essentially beefed-up running shoes designed for off-road routes. They are enhanced with aggressive outsoles for solid traction and fortified to offer stability, support and underfoot protection. If you routinely encounter roots, rocks, mud, critter holes or other obstacles during runs, choose trail runners.

Tip: If you can't find a trail shoe with the right fit for your running mechanics, it's better to go with a road-running shoe.

Know Your Feet
Foot size: You probably know your shoe size already. But if you're unsure or if one foot is larger than the other, it's best to have your feet measured at REI or other shoe retailer with a Brannock device. (That's the flat metal tool with sliders that measure the length, width and the toe-to-ball length of the foot.).Whenever possible, try the shoe on to see if it fits. Shoe lasts (which determines shoe sizes, described below) vary by manufacturer and even from one shoe model to another. You may need a half-size or even a full size smaller or larger than you think.
Most men wear a D-width shoe while most women wear a B-width. You don't have to wear a gender-specific shoe—the lasts are basically the same. Men: Try a women's shoe if you have a narrow foot. Women: Try a men's shoe if you have a larger or wider foot. If the shoe fits, wear it!
Arch shape: Here's a simple way to find yours. As you get out of the tub, shower or pool, take a look at the footprint you leave on the bathmat or cement. The shape of your footprint will indicate the type of arch you have. Your arch shape affects the way your foot moves as you run.

High arch, normal arch and flat arch

Biomechanics of Running

Your foot shape is closely related to its movement as you walk or run. The typical scenario: With every stride, your heel strikes the ground first. It rolls slightly inward and the arch flattens to cushion the impact. Your foot then rolls slightly to the outside and stiffens to create a springboard to propel your next step.
As runners, however, we each experience different levels of these sideways motions as we stride. The key characteristics:
Pronation is the foot's natural inward roll following a heel strike. Basic (neutral) pronation helps absorb impact, relieving pressure on knees and joints. It is a normal trait of neutral, biomechanically efficient runners.
Overpronation is an exaggerated form of the foot's natural inward roll. It is a common trait that affects the majority of runners, leaving them at risk of knee pain and injury. Overpronators need stability or motion control shoes.
Supination (also called under-pronation) is an outward rolling of the foot resulting in insufficient impact reduction at landing. Relatively few runners supinate, but those who do need shoes with plenty of cushioning and flexibility.
The illustration below shows these mechanics on a runner's right leg:
Types of pronation
How can you be sure which running style is yours? A podiatrist or physical therapist could undoubtedly tell you, but a simpler answer is probably in your closet. If you own a well-used pair of running shoes, check the wear pattern on the soles.

  • If you have a neutral stride, shoe wear is centralized to the ball of the foot and a small portion of the heel.
  • Overpronation is identified by wear patterns along the inside edge of your shoe.
  • Supination is marked by wear along the outer edge of your shoe.

Types of Running Shoes

Cushioning shoes provide elevated shock absorption and minimal medial (arch side) support. They're best for runners who are mild pronators or supinators. Cushioning shoes are also good for neutral runners during off-pavement runs. Reason: Minor irregularities in surfaces such as dirt roads give feet a little variety from the repetitive, same-spot strikes they typically experience on hard surfaces.
Stability shoes help decelerate basic pronation. They're good for neutral runners or those who exhibit mild to moderate overpronation. They often include a "post" (see Shoe Construction 101, below) in the midsole. Due to their extra support features, virtually all trail-running shoes fall in the stability category.
Motion control shoes offer features such as stiffer heels or a design built on straighter lasts to counter overpronation. They're best for runners who exhibit moderate to severe overpronation.
Here are some general guidelines:

Foot mechanicsNormal inward rollExcessive inward rollExcessive outward roll
Foot shapeLow archFlat foot to low archMedium to high arch
Shock absorption in stride GoodGoodPoor
Recommended shoe last Semi-curved StraightCurved
Recommended type of shoe Stability Motion Control Cushioning

Shoe Construction 101


This refers to the upper part of the shoe above the sole.
  • Synthetic leather is a supple, durable, abrasion-resistant material derived principally from nylon and polyester. It's lighter, quicker drying and more breathable than real leather. Plus, it requires no (or very little) break-in time and therefore reduces the chance of blisters.
  • Nylon and nylon mesh are durable synthetic materials most commonly used to reduce weight and boost breathability.
  • TPU (thermoplastic urethane) overlays are positioned over the breathable shoe panels (such in the arch and the heel). These small, abrasion-resisting additions help enhance stability and durability.
  • Waterproof/breathable uppers (e.g., Gore-Tex XCR or eVent) use a membrane bonded to the interior of the linings. This membrane blocks moisture from entering while still allowing feet to breathe. Shoes made with these membranes keep feet dry in wet environment with a slight trade-off in breathability.

Midsole Technology

Anatomy of a running shoe
The midsole is the cushioning and stability layer between the upper and the outsole.
  • Synthetic leather is a supple, durable, abrasion-resistant material derived principally from nylon and polyester. It's lighter, quicker drying and more breathable than real leather. Plus, it requires no (or very little) break-in time and therefore reduces the chance of blisters.
  • EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) is a type of foam commonly used for running-shoe midsoles. Cushioning shoes often use a single layer of EVA. Some will insert multiple densities of EVA to force a particular flex pattern.
  • Posts are areas of firmer EVA (dual-density, quad-density, multi-density, compression-molded) added to create harder-to-compress sections in the midsole. Often found in stability shoes, posts are used to decelerate pronation or boost durability. Medial posts reinforce the arch side of each midsole, an area highly impacted by overpronation.
  • Plates are made of thin, somewhat flexible material (often nylon or TPU) that stiffens the forefoot of the shoe. Plates, often used in trail runners, protect the bottom of your foot when the shoe impacts rocks and roots.
  • Shanks stiffen the midsole and protect the heel and arch. They boost a shoe's firmness when traveling on rocky terrain. Ultralight backpackers often wear lightweight trail runners with plates for protection and shanks for protection and support.
  • TPU (thermoplastic urethane) is a flexible plastic used in some midsoles as stabilization devices.

Shoe Lasts

The "last" refers both to the shape of a shoe and also the form, or mold, around which a shoe is constructed.
When referring to the shape of a shoe:
  • A straight last is appropriate if you are an overpronator or have a flexible, flat arch. It helps to control inward motion.
  • A curved last is designed for underpronators with rigid, high arches. The curved shape promotes inward motion.
  • A semi-curved last represents the middle ground. It is appropriate for neutral pronators.
Types of shoe lasts
When referring to the shape of a shoe:
  • Board-lasted shoes are made with a piece of stiff fiberboard glued to the upper and then to the midsole/outsole. These shoes offer the stability and motion control needed by over-pronators.
  • Slip-lasted shoes are made by sewing the upper into a sock which is then glued directly to the midsole/outsole without any board in-between. These are flexible and well cushioned for the supinator.
  • Combination-lasted shoes feature board-lasting in the rear half for motion control and support, which slip-lasting in front for cushioning and flex. This is the most common approach and can be used a wide range of foot types.

Other Shoe Components

  • Heel counter: This refers to the rigid structure around the heel. It provides motion control and is sometimes supplemented with a heel wedge, which adds support and cushioning to the heel. It can help those runners who are bothered by Achilles tendonitis.
  • Medial post or torsion bar: These are located on the sides of shoes to help control excessive inward or outward motion. They are designed for the over-pronator or supinator.
  • Outsole: The outsole is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Most road shoes are made with carbon rubber's hard, durable material in the heel. Blown rubber—which provides more cushioning—is often used in the forefoot. Trail runners tend to have all carbon rubber outsoles to better withstand trail wear, while road racing shoes are frequently all blown rubber to reduce weight.

Fit and Lacing Tips

When trying shoes on:
  • Try on shoes at the end of the day. Your feet normally swell a bit during the day's activities and will be at their largest then. This helps you avoid buying shoes that are too small.
  • If you wear orthotics, be sure to bring them along. They impact the fit of a shoe.
  • Consider custom footbeds (insoles) such as Superfeet. Shoe manufacturers tend to provide generic insoles with their shoes since many runners use orthotics or, increasingly, custom footbeds. By using a custom footbed, you get improved cushion, stability and a better fit. These are great for people with back problems or who run long distances.
Lacing techniques for various foot types:
Types of lacing techniques

What About Barefoot Running?

While wearing shoes seems entirely logical and comfortable, a January 2010 study published in the Nature International Weekly Journal of Science argues that running barefoot may actually reduce injuries. This makes some sense when you consider that for most of human history, runners ran barefoot.
The Nature article notes that when wearing running shoes, one tends to hit the ground heel first. This is because a shoe heel has an elevated cushion. However, with barefoot runners, it is the mid-foot or forefoot that strikes the ground first. This more-natural foot strike is believed to cause less impact and thus fewer impact-related running injuries.

A Solution: Minimalist Shoes

Vibram FiveFingers Of course, running barefoot is hard on tender feet, especially when on rough surfaces. If you're interested in trying barefoot running, first consider minimalist shoes such as Vibram FiveFingers. They are made of a thin, abrasion-resistant polyamide stretch fabric with individual toe slots that look like your foot. They are designed to fit the contour and shape of your foot and let it move naturally. They are worn directly against the sole of the foot. Customer reviews on have been overwhelmingly positive.
Also minimalist but with a more substantial platform is the Vibram Bikila. It offers traction for a variety of surfaces, an EVA arch that follows the contour of the foot and a polyurethane footbed for reducing packing over time.
New to barefoot running or minimalist shoes? Our advice is to start out slowly, then gradually increase your time and distance so your feet get used to using different muscles.

Now, you will be able to know what to look for when purchasing athletic shoes for your fitness routines. Thanks to with that in depth information for us to use.If you would like to contact us with any questions or feedback, you can reach us by email

Thank you for visiting! 
Joseph A. Jones & The WellLife Team 

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