What is the right running shoe for you?
What is the best running shoe?
A common question our physios and podiatrists get asked is “what is the best running shoe?”.
The answer to that depends on a few factors, but the most important one is what type of foot arch you have.
Looking for a running shoe can be difficult if you don't know what to look for. These days, there is a huge variety of running shoe brands – each with their own shapes, sizes, and different types of technology. Each of these shoes are built for different foot types.
It’s important to know that one shoe might be right for one person and another shoe might be right for someone else.
The best running shoe is the shoe that feels the most comfortable on your foot and fits your foot the best. Simple, right? But how do I know what fits my foot best?
Does the shoe fit?
To know what shoe fits your foot best you first need to know your foot shape.
A simple way to do this is to simply look at your arches while standing or do the ‘wet test’. To do this wet both your feet and stand on paper for about 10 seconds. Then step off and observe the shape of the imprint you have made. You’ll see one of three shapes:
There is a distinct curve along the inside of your foot with a band a little less than half the width of your foot connecting the heel and toe.
Low arch (flat footed)
The imprint shows most of your foot and there is not much of a curve along the inside of your foot.
There is a very noticeable curve along the inside of your foot and a very thin band connecting your heel and toe. If you have a high arch, you may not even see anything connecting the heel and toe.
Once you have worked out your foot shape, the next step is to work out your gait type.
Firstly, lets cover understand what “gait” is. Your gait is simply defined as how your foot moves while making contact with the ground, during walking or running.
Your gait type can provide insight into specific muscles that may be underperforming, or over-performing. This is more complicated and often requires more complex technology such as a gait scanner or observation by a qualified health professional such as a podiatrist or physiotherapist.
A chiropractor can also use manipulation to help restore function to the 22 foot bones and associated ligaments and muscles. Techniques include manual mobilisations by hand and mechanical, instrument-assisted manipulation.
The three main types of gait are pronation, normal and supination – all of which exist in varying degrees:
This is when the outside of the heel strikes first and the foot then rolls inward to absorb the weight-bearing forces. This is typically someone with a low arch (although arch height does not always correspond to if someone is a pronator) and they should choose a stability shoe.
If you have a neutral gait, the middle/slightly outward part of the heel strikes first and the foot rolls inward slightly to absorb the weight-bearing forces. Someone with a neutral gait normally has a medium arched foot. The best shoe choice for a neutral runner is a neutral cushioning shoe.
Someone who supinates, strikes the ground with the outside of their heel first and instead of rolling inward, stays on the outside of their foot through the entire foot strike. This reduces the foot's ability to absorb the impact of the foot strike. This is typically someone with a higher arched foot and should choose a neutral cushioning shoe as well.
And what about the types of shoes?
Motion control shoes
These shoes are built on a straight last. Turn the shoe over and look at the bottom. If it has a wide, straight shape it is a motion control shoe. If you have a flat foot and overpronate, this shoe is more appropriate for you. This type of shoe will prevent you from rolling in too far. It will give your foot maximum support and offers the most control.
Examples: Brooks Beast ’20, Hoka One One Gaviota or New Balance 860
Stability shoes will have a semi-curved shape to them. If you have a normal arch, and pronate only slightly, choose a stability shoe. Stability shoes offer a good balance of cushioning and support.
Examples: Asics Kayano, Brooks Adrenaline or Saucony Guide
Neutral cushioning shoes
Neutral cushioning shoes will have the most curved shape to them. If you have a high arched foot and supinate, you should choose a neutral cushion shoe. Cushioned shoes absorb the impact that your foot does not naturally absorb.
Examples: Nike Pegasus, Asics Nimbus or Brooks Glycerin
We recommend speaking to a podiatrist to help you find the best shoe for you. Often, podiatrists will suggest a few running shoes to help you run pain-free!
Why do my feet STILL hurt?
The perfect footwear tailored specifically to you may still not provide relief from musculoskeletal pain related to running or exercise of any form. Biomechanical variations arising from muscle strength deficits related to past or present injuries will have a greater influence than any equipment on pain and function.
If you would like to have a foot and gait assessment, develop a running program or have your painful feet assessed by a qualified physiotherapist, podiatrist or chiro, make a booking at your local Back In Motion today!
 Coskun R et al, Efficiency of high velocity low amplitude (HVLA) lumbosacral manipulation on running time and jumping distance, Comparison with sham manipulation in amateur soccer players, Manuelle Medizin, volume 58, pages229–236 (2020).
This article was contributed by Brendan Mason and Brodie Leonard-Shannon, from Back In Motion Aspendale Gardens.