Whether you just started jogging or you are a seasoned marathon runner your shoes are your most important piece of equipment. When we work with runners we are often asked for recommendations for good running shoes but what is good for one runner is often bad for another.
Picking your ideal running shoe:
Running shoes come in straight, semi-curved, or curved “lasts” which is the shape of the shoe. This shape should generally match the shape of your foot.
The midsole provides the cushioning of the shoe and also determines the stiffness of the shoe. Assess the stiffness of a shoe by grabbing the heel and forefoot of the shoe and twist in several directions. The best running shoes should bend relatively easily to allow the feet to move freely in several directions. If you have a high arch a more flexible midsole is the better choice and if you have a low arch a slightly stiffer midsole is desirable. A shoe that is very stiff is going to be uncomfortable.
The cushioning from the midsole is also important to protect the heel and forefoot from trauma and the springing action of the cushion returns energy and can help offset the added weight. For most runners a shoe with a 10mm midsole is a good balance. The forefoot will have around 10mm of cushioning under the heel it will be 6-12 mm thicker. This difference is called the heel-toe drop and the size of this drop that you want depends on your style of running and experience. Recreation runners who heel strike should look at 10-12mm toe-drop, experienced runners who heel strike should look at 6 mm drop shoes to reduce weight, and fast runners with a midfoot strike should consider a zero-drop midsole meaning the cushioning is the same height in the front of the shoe and the back. Recent research found that alternating running shoes (wearing different model shoes on different runs) can reduce running injuries (1) . So it may be beneficial to have 2 (or more) pairs of shoes with different heel-toe drops and alternate based on your training. I recommend slowly transitioning into new shoes if the heel-toe drop is significantly different from what you are used to wearing.
The most important thing to consider is the shoe fit and comfort, you need to be sure that the shoes you pick are comfortable on your feet and fit the size and shape of your foot.
If you are unsure about all the information we went over or don’t know if you heel strike or mid-foot strike an easy way to find a good shoe for you is to talk with an expert at a running store. Luckily in Eagan we have Endurance House where they perform a Personalized Movement Profile shoe fitting. I stopped in earlier this year to get assessed and fitted with a great running shoe. With the Personalized movement profile Ken assessed my foot structure and arch height and then took me through a light jog on a treadmill while filming my gait to determine my foot strike and the motion of my foot after it hits the ground. After analyzing the video we saw that during my stride I heel strike and then pronate, which is a common pattern for many runners. Based on these finding Ken picked out a running shoe that cushions the heel impact and slows the pronation movement. Getting this assessment and finding a shoe that is good fit and comfortable is an easy way to improve your running experience.
Dr. Adam Ebbers
(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24286345 – alternate shoes and do other activities
(2) Injury Free Running: Dr. Thomas Michaud
Acu-Chiropractic Wellness Center, PA
Chiropractors in Eagan, MN