How you can find the right running shoe

Do you have flat feet?  You could be over-pronating when you run. Are your arches abnormally high? You might be under-pronating.  Through the experience of researching running shoes, and going to a specialty running store, I’m here to share what I’ve learned through my new sneaker hunt.

Like a car needs an oil change every couple thousand miles to keep it running smoothly, sneakers are transportation and need to be swapped out every 300 – 500 miles to keep the body from injury. When logging so many miles in a week, snagging cheap sneakers, without thought to how they may help or hurt the body is not the best decision. Ensure the sneakers that are going to take a pounding each day are best suited for your particular body.

Trainers counseled me that I needed a stability shoe.  Many runners have the same issue as me – I “over-pronate” which means my right foot makes a sweeping motion, like a ballet move, causing it to roll in, unsupported, while my left leg runs straight. I’ve noticed that this causes some pain in my right knee, and, over a distance of many miles, feared this could result in injury.

With running shops around the country that specialize in finding a runner’s weaknesses and suggesting the right shoe to compensate, I decided to speak to an expert. A good running store has specialists trained to watch you run and see what would work best for your particular case. It’s an easy process that takes about 15 minutes. You simply run on a treadmill for about 15 seconds, with a video camera aimed at your feet. The specialist watches your gait, and can tell if you require normal support, or a special shoe.

For me, the magical answer is a stability shoe to correct my over-pronation. I am now the proud owner of the Asics® GT-2150 Women’s Running Shoe.

My new stability running shoe

In the week since I purchased these sneakers, I’ve noticed a difference. The shoes are sturdy and comfortable, and provide noticeable support. When I ran without them yesterday, my foot rolled inward, already accustomed to the extra support, and I almost fell.

If you are in the market for new shoes, I highly recommend going to a runners shop, getting the assessment test and finding out which shoe will support your foot the best. This Runner’s World article contains videos of different running gaits and describes the various conditions well.  Below are two stores I’ve been to that provide running assessments, but there are many specialty shops throughout the country that will run the same test:

Jack Rabbit

RUN by Foot Locker

Good luck in finding the right shoe – and I would love to hear comments or suggestions on what has worked for your over-pronation/under-pronation!

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About the13thmile

I am proud to now say I am a half-marathon runner! Three half-marathons qualify for that status, I think. I blog about about running, nutrition and sometimes some other stuff. I share my research, tips and experiences with you, and am inspired by the supportive running community! I enjoy connecting with other runners, and hearing about other people's running experiences. Feel free to reach out if you have ran marathons or half marathons in the past!
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2 Responses to How you can find the right running shoe

  1. Mark C. says:

    Nice short post on a very common foot issue. I have/had a similar one and solved it in a slightly different way.

    My left foot used to overpronate and sort of be pointed out to the side, while my right foot was straight. Initially, two running shops suggested I should have mile stability shoes. I tried them at first, but then also had a problem with ITBS after running in them. What that taught me was that I was running with my core and hips relaxed, and then when I attempted to do some exercises for them found that the left side (overpronation and ITBS) was far weaker than the right. I went to work to strengthen them, and not only has the strengthening resulted in a change in my form, but now the same shoe shops suggest neutral shoes for me. Some recent research has shown that minor/mild pronation of the foot can simply be the result of lost tone in the core and hip muscles. When they are strong and slightly engaged during the run, they prevent the knee from flexing/rotating inward as much, and reduce the amount of pronation of the foot.

    I think it probably depends on how much a person overpronates, but many people can correct their foot problems over time by strengthening other muscles important for good running form, your feet are only part of your running. Sometimes people think if they need a stability shoe, the more stability-the better. But since pronation is important for shock absorption and some amount is normal, reducing it beyond what you need can be result in great shock transmission to the knees and hips, and may as a result cause injuries, so I encourage people to only get shoes that offer as much stability (or slightly less even) than is recommended by their experts. Slightly less, because that can help strengthen the muscles and tendons in the foot that are required for good running form without the structural assistance of excess shoe!

    It is not difficult to modify your running form in minor ways over a period of time. I don’t think you can solve all problems by doing so (there is no silver bullet), but you can reduce your dependency on extra support and structure over time in ways that are beneficial to your health and vitality. In any case, I encourage all runners to do some good core exercise work regularly (core yoga, pilates, or at least hip exericses, bridge pose, or planks). It helps reduce the slop in the way we throw our hips and legs around during a long, tiring run, and may reduce some of the related stresses and strains that cause pain and overuse injuries/syndromes. At the very least, you get a strong butt and abs out of the deal, so what the heck, right?


    • the13thmile says:

      This is great advice – thank you for the post! I think you are right – some cross-training, and working other core areas will strengthen the muscles that help support that area. I think for me, the next step is to find the area that needs work and “cross-train” by strengthening that area! Thanks for the advice, and best of luck to you as well.

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