Patients at New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation often ask about the criteria they should consider when choosing running shoes. If you’re a serious runner, you should first visit a specialty store for running shoes, where you can have a trained salesperson give you a gait analysis.
This process involves looking at your feet both when you’re walking and running and while standing still. The professional will examine the shape of your arch and the rest of your feet, as well as determine how you distribute pressure and whether you favor one side or the other (known as overpronation or excessive supination).
Overpronation means that the ankle and foot turn inward, which can cause overuse injuries over time if you’re wearing the wrong kind of shoe. The best running sneakers for those who overpronate have additional support at the arch to help correct the gait. Excessive supination typically occurs if you have a very high arch and stiff foot. Those with this type of gait usually walk on the outside of their feet. The ideal shoes for those with excessive supination have extensive shock absorption in a shoe with lots of cushioning.
People with neutral gait don’t place any undue stress on either the inner arch or outer edge of the foot. For this “ideal” foot type, a cushioned running shoe is sufficient in most cases.
After you have a gait analysis and purchase new running shoes, you should undergo this process every year to ensure that your gait has not changed. In addition, you should have a new gait analysis any time you have a serious change to your body, such as injury, trauma, or pregnancy, as all of these can affect the way that you walk and the type of shoes you need.
In addition to gait analysis, you should keep your body type in mind when choosing running shoes. Larger people tend to need more cushioned shoes than smaller people do. The type of running you usually do is also important, as there are different shoes for trail running, road running, and cross training. Try on shoes at the end of the day, when your feet tend to be slightly swollen, and keep in mind that the shoe size you normally wear can vary based on manufacturer.
Also keep in mind that running shoes are designed to last for about 500 miles. Replace your shoes as often as necessary for optimal support.