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How to Choose the Best Running Shoes For You (Part I)

So you’ve decided you need some new running shoes?

Good.

Most people keep using running shoes way after they’ve broken down. And most people will tell you that this is because the cushioning wears out. That’s true, but it’s not as big of a deal as you’ve been led to believe. If it were, every single barefoot runner would get injured so often that the movement wouldn’t exist.

Wait a minute.  Is this going to be an article about how being barefoot is the “best shoe” for me? Come on.

Nope, don’t worry (although running barefoot on a softer surface like grass, sand, or a track is perfectly safe). But, and this is a big but, one of the biggest things you can do to improve your form is to get a shoe with “zero heel drop”. Where is that most commonly found? Yep, in barefoot shoes and minimalist shoes. There is a distinction between those two types of shoes. More on that in a bit.

However, if there is one thing you should take away from this article, it’s this: The closer you can get to having a flat shoe, the better. Don’t look at the tread. Look at the angle from the front of the shoe to the heel. Shoot for flat. That’s it.

How Most People Shop for Running Shoes

“Hmm. Does this shoe make me look good when I’m jogging down the sidewalk?  I don’t know if it’s cute enough.” Or, better yet – “Wow, dude! This is so sick! That shoe is so awesome! Look at those colors!” Of course, I’m just kidding (or am I?).

In reality, some people do shop for running shoes based solely on looks. I’d love to see someone conduct a survey and get some statistics on exactly how many, but the majority of weekend warriors probably aren’t concerned with their foot strike.

Of course, some people do shop for shoes for good reasons. In the past, “serious” runners have typically chosen between two types of shoes, motion control and neutral.

Motion Control vs. Neutral

Motion control shoes were designed to prevent overpronation. They have an area (usually a different color) of harder material on the inside of the shoe. It’s designed to be extremely stable and keep your foot from flexing inward too much. In theory, this was a great idea. When your foot strikes the ground, your foot rolls inward just a little bit. Some people roll excessively inward (this is called overpronating), causing unnecessary injuries.  The idea behind these types of shoes was to prevent injuries.

When motion control shoes were introduced, regular shoes became “neutral” shoes. They are now marketed towards people who run neutrally, or “normally”. Pretty self-explanatory stuff here.  Eventually, markets developed for many more types of shoes. Typically, this meant lighter, higher performance shoes, or heavier, cushioned, stable shoes.  You’ve heard of them. Careers have been made out of marketing the gel, air, soft material, or whatever type of technology created the new and improved cushioning.

The Problem With Most Running Shoes

On the surface, the difference between motion control shoes and regular shoes seems like a great way to help out runners stay healthy when running. But there is a huge (I cannot emphasize this enough), huge problem with this. This assumes that the runner is heel striking. Most runners heel strike. That much is true. But do you know why most runners heel strike? Because modern running shoes have a raised heel, which encourages heel striking! This means that shoe companies are out trying to solve a problem that they created themselves! Wrap your head around that logic.

Click Here for Part II

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February 8th, 2012
Written By: Brett



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