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5 Expert Tips for Choosing the Right Running Shoes

Jun 01, 2016 02:00PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds

Ask any orthopedic specialist and they’ll probably tell you the question they answer most often from patients is about which running shoes are best for running fast, far, and without injury.

Christina Morganti, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon at Anne Arundel Medical Center and AAMG Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists, says this is a difficult question to answer because there are so many variables, such as running goals, history of injury, type of running surface, etc.

Dr. Morganti offers the following general guidelines to get you off on the right foot when it comes to running shoes.

1. The shoes should feel comfortable in the store. Don’t expect you’ll be able to “break in” the shoes later.

2. Your heel should not slip out of the shoes.

3. Your toes should not hit the front of the shoes.

4. The shoes should fit your arch type and foot mechanics. Ask for help, if needed.

5. The shoes should be light and flexible, but also with a slight degree of stiffness for support and durability.


Most running shoe stores organize their shoes in broad categories, including cushion, lightweight cushion, forefront cushion, motion control, and neutral. In recent years another category—minimalist shoes—has been introduced. Here’s what you should know about each category:

Cushion

  • Provides heel-to-toe comfort
  • Best for heavier runners
  • Tends to be heavier material
  • Good for runners with joint degeneration

Lightweight Cushion

  • Has thick soles made of lighter weight material
  • Newer technology, offers less “feel” for the road, but more cushion without the weight

Forefoot Cushion

  • Has less cushion in the heel relative to the forefoot—the opposite of traditional shoes
  • Design encourages a foot strike pattern more on the midfoot than the heel
  • Take some time to work with this option and adapt to your new gait pattern carefully and gradually

Motion Control

  • Specially designed with performance elements for stability
  • Best for runners with excessive motion in the hind foot

Neutral

  • Good for runners without serious biomechanical issues or for use with orthotics
  • Less expensive and lighter than other options

Minimalist

  • Lighter weight, less heel cushion
  • Adapt to these shoes carefully and gradually to avoid injury

Dr. Morganti recommends trying on multiple pairs and going with what feels good after walking around the store. “Many stores have a treadmill so you can try running in the shoes. Some even allow video analysis to check for stability,” she says.

Provided by Anne Arundel Medical Center

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