The right running shoes
Your choice of running shoes will affect your training more than any other piece of kit. Get it right and you’ll draw the maximum out of yourself, get it wrong and fatigue, discomfort, and quite possibly injury are waiting to pounce.
Your foot strike is as personal as your body shape, so what works great for your friend isn’t a sure thing for you! The sure way to know your foot strike is Natural Gait Analysis.
What does running foot strike mean?
Your running foot strike, or running gait, is the way you land and then distribute the stress of your running stride through your feet.
Types of running gait
Simplistically there are three types of running gait:
- Neutral (foot lands upright)
- Overpronation (foot collapses medially or to the 'inside')
- Supination or Underpronation (foot rolls laterally or to the 'outside')
How do your feet land when running?
Observe yourself running round the block at a normal pace. What part of your foot hits concrete first? What happens next?
If you land on your forefoot, toes, outside of your feet but away from the heel then you’re going to do well with Minimal Running Shoes, no need to have a chunky heel of cushioning if you’re not landing there, or Neutral Running Shoes as it’s unlikely you’ll need support under your arch. You’re a forefoot striker and probably a nifty sprinter into the bargain!
If you strike at the heel we’ve got more questions for you…
Heel Striker: Overpronator
If you land on the heel, have you had blisters under the arch when running? Are you prone to shin splints (sharp pain down the front of your legs) or niggling knees? Chances are you over-pronate and need some stability to keep your feet and knees aligned.
Have a look at your bare feet, standing upright, just tilting you head enough to see your feet – or check in a mirror – are your arches are a bit flat to the ground? That further suggests you’ll benefit from stability in your shoes. Head to Support Running Shoes.
If this has left you going ‘Oh, I don’t know, there’s elements I recognized here but…’ then stick with the Support Shoes but check the descriptions and go for mild support.
Heel Striker: Neutral Runner
If you land on the heel, you’ve probably only read this far if your feet are as neutral as Switzerland. So, Congratulations, you hit the genealogical jackpot :-) Chances are your foot strike is balanced, not putting pressure on one side or the other. Neutral Running Shoes will suit you well, or you can try Minimal Shoes if you fancy transitioning to forefoot running.
Heel Striker: Supinator
If you’ve got particularly high or ridged arches you may belong to the rare breed of Supinators – where you put a lot of pressure down the sides of your feet and the ball of your foot barely gets a look in. This can result in shin splints as impact shock ricochets up your legs – flexible, well-cushioned Neutral Running Shoes will still be best.
This should give you a general idea. It’s only a guideline and there are exceptions to every rule, so it's always best to have your own personal gait analysed (see below for more info). Meanwhile, if you’ve any comments or questions get typing below, I’d love to hear from you.
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