CHOOSING THE RIGHT SHOE
Picking the right shoe is difficult. Currently, there are over 100 different models of running shoes on the market, and the manufacturers would have us believe that everyone of theirs is the best of it's type on the market. How do we decide which one is most apt to work for us and with each of our individual needs. After all, do you really think that your feet are just like Michael Johnson's or Joan Benoit-Samuelson's.
To make your selection easier we've divided the shoes into categories; stability, cushion, motion control ((subdivided into standard and big-man), and lightweight-training. The other possible category is "trail" but I tend to feel trail shoes fall as a sub-categories of the others.
Stability shoes bring with them a balanced combination of good stability and good cushioning. Stability in the medial or lateral direction, (keep your foot from rolling sideways on the shoe, either inward, which is most common, or outward). This problem occurs as a result of all that cushion underneath you. I often compare it to standing on a waterbed. You wobble! A good stability shoe controls this natural wobble.
Stability shoes tends to be a good choice if you are a medium weight runner and haven't had any serious problems as a result of overpronation or continuously suffered from shin-splints. Another thing to consider is if you tend to run slightly pigeon-toed or with your toes turned outward slightly.
The most critical consideration here is to make sure the SHOE FITS.
Cushioned shoes most often have no form of posting on the medial side of the shoe. They will usually be made on a curved or semi-curved last (shape). These shoes will tend to be described as made for forefoot runners.
This type of shoe is especially well suited to those people who have a high rigid arch (meaning it does not flatten down when the person stands on it. However some people with a high arch should avoid this type of shoe. These people's ankles will flex inward when they land in an effort to help their foot absorb shock.
MC shoes are made for those people who seem to have more foot problems than their co-runners. They are designed with firm medial posting (firmer material along the inner side of the heel in the cushioning layer. For some people it can even be more helpful if this post travels clear forward into the forefoot. This shoes will also tend to be stiffer than other types and very frequently are made on a straight last (shape). They can be split into two groups;
a. Normal motion control shoes and,
b. Big man shoes; those designed for the heavier runner.
(This is usually stated as men over 180-190lbs. and women over the 150-160lbs. range.)
This type of shoe is designed particularly for those people who tend to suffer from over-pronation problems when they get on top of a lot of cushioning. This can be seen as they roll inward toward their "bunion joint" after landing anywhere else on their foot. As they push off to go forward it will be from the "inside or big toe" side of their foot (even if they landed on the outside of their heel).
Lightweight Training Shoes
Lightweight training shoes are made to run fast in. They are meant to be used for intervals or speed work and possibly those special occasions when you want to run long but fast. There is only one way that a shoe can be made lighter. They take something away. This might be extra stability or cushion, or both, and almost always amounts to a less durable but lighter and quicker feeling shoe. They are usually built on a semi curved or curved last (shape) and fit very snug or close to the foot.
This type of shoe is for the efficient, semi-fast to fast runner who wants a second, light pair of shoes for fast-paced training. They are also popular with bigger runners who want a racing shoe with a little more cushion and support.
Trail shoes offer increased outsole traction, midsoles similar to those of stability shoes, but possibly a little firmer to stop the stones from pushing up through. Also uppers with toe bumpers and reinforced stitching for more rugged wear and durability.
These shoes are for you if you do a lot of off-road running and need shoes with extra traction, more durable uppers and extra protection from stone bruises (in Iowa that means gravel).
LOOK AT THE WEAR PATTERN ON YOUR OLD SHOES AND MATCH IT UP WITH THE PICTURE BELOW. REMEMBER, WHERE YOU LAND ON YOUR HEEL DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING. UNDER OR OVER -PRONATION HAS MORE TO DO WITH WHERE YOU PUSH OFF!
The Over-pronator (GREEN WEAR PATTERN) needs; a motion control type shoe, possible a straight lasted shoe with a slightly more firm midsole to give the foot the maximum in control. If you weigh more than average definitely consider one of the big persons shoes.
The "normal" gated person (RED WEAR PATTERN) has a large selection to choose from and probably can wear most of the shoes made IF THEY FIT CORRECTLY. A stability shoe may be better for those who run above 30 miles per week or are over 40.Semi-curved shoes tend to work the best.
The under -pronater (BLACK WEAR PATTERN) should look at the cushion category of shoes and pay especially close attention to the curved lasted shoes. If you have a problem with medial shin splints (along the inner side of the shin) stay with a stability type of shoe.