Written by Allison Chambers, guest author
Running is a tried and tested way to improve your overall health and wellness, especially for beginners who are just getting into fitness. However, it’s important to note that running is still a high-impact activity that puts a high level of stress on your joints and feet. Research from the American Journal of Sports Medicine shows that injury risk for these kinds of activities can be highly dependent on the type of shoe that you wear. If you’re looking for the perfect shoe to protect you and ensure maximum performance, here’s what you should look for.
Running in shoes that have too little or too much cushioning can pose problems. In a recent study, researchers observed how minimalist and maximalist cushioning affects runners’ forms. The participants tended to land harder in both shoes, increasing their risk of running injuries. You want to find a good balance between cushioning, stability, and ground feel, meaning the shoe touches down where you expect it to and rolls into a stride that feels right. A good example of a running shoe with extra support is On’s second-generation Cloudstratus. This model has a double layer of its CloudTec cushioning technology that provides more support to runners.
For runners looking to cover shorter race distances, a lighter shoe build would be the most suitable. The Nike ZoomX Streakfly is an example of this type of shoe, as it features a breathable mesh upper and a light build that can propel runners for a 5k or 10k. Shoes that are lighter also tend to give you less fatigue because it takes less effort for lift-off. Fortunately, with the shoe technologies of most manufacturers today, you’re likely to find a pair that can give support without being clunky and heavy.
According to Jumpstart by WebMD, ankle injuries are one of the most common injuries caused by the foot landing in an unnatural position. You may think that sprains and fractures are the only ankle injuries, but the tendons on your ankle can experience repeated wear and tear without proper support. A stable shoe with a sturdy ankle collar, which is the wrap at the top of the shoe opening holding your heel down in place, allows for sufficient ankle mobility, and will prevent your feet from rolling.
Comfortable Toe Box
If your shoe’s toe box is the incorrect size for you, you’re increasing your chances of bunions, hammer toes, and general soreness after running. A too narrow toe box can also affect the weight distribution of your body when lifting off, causing more discomfort. One way to check is to take out the insole of any shoe, place it flat on the ground, and step on it — if your feet aren’t hanging off of its sides, then it’s an appropriate toe box size.
In our article explaining how 'Shoe Fitting Tests' work, we highlight the bend test, which involves holding either side of the shoe in each hand and bringing the toe and heel together. A shoe with proper mid-support should bend only across the ball with mild resistance. Twisting the shoe like wringing out a rag should also be difficult. Arch support matters because it helps relieve pressure instead of leaving it all on the heel and the balls of your feet.
All in all, these are a few things you should keep in mind when you’re shopping, so that your new shoes can get you up and running in no time. For more information, visit one of these knowledgeable shoe retailers: