Running shoes buying guide

How to pick the best pair of running shoes for your foot type
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  • Updated:10 Mar 2008

01.Shoe shopping

Running shoe cross section

In brief

  • Knowing your foot type is the first step to getting the right runners.
  • Price only matters to a certain point — the most expensive shoes will simply offer you better durability compared to mid-range shoes.

The running season’s starting and this year you’re seriously considering taking up the sport in an attempt to get fit, lose weight, get more exercise — whatever. To have any hope of keeping up your motivation and seeing the season through, you’ll need a decent pair of running shoes, and you’ve never chosen a pair before. Where do you start?

Choosing the right pair of running shoes can be a frustrating (and expensive) task. When faced with a dizzying array of styles and brand names, CHOICE discovered even professional runners can find the experience overwhelming.

The good news is, with the right advice and a bit of pre-emptive ‘sole’ searching, the key to picking the perfect runners can be a few simple steps away.

Please note: this information was current as of March 2008 but is still a useful guide today.

Foot in the right door

Every time you’re running, your feet will absorb a force between two to three times your body weight. That’s the equivalent of standing on tiptoe while carrying two people your size on your shoulders. As the same force is applied 9500 times during a 10 km run, it pays to get the right footwear for injury prevention. But how do you know what’s right for you?

A good way to ensure you’re buying the right shoes is to visit a specialist running store. Staff at a running shoe store will usually offer to check your foot type (see 'One shape doesn’t fit all') and can provide advice based on your needs and budget.

Professional shoe sellers should measure the length and width of each foot, inquire about the any past or existing foot injuries, and find out the frequency and distances you’re planning to run. All these factors will affect what type of shoes you’ll need.

Plenty of stores offer free in-house analysis, matching customers to the most appropriate footwear. For example, The Athlete’s Foot has a pressure-point device that identifies where you put the most pressure on your foot throughout different phases of your step. Shoes are then recommended based on whether you have a flat, neutral or high-arched foot type — a key factor behind your running style.

But while this style of screening provides some information about loading patterns, it reveals little about the individual's actual foot motion during running.



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