There are so many shoe options available to runners these days. Barefoot, cushioned, carbon plate – how do you find the right shoe for you? The physical therapists at Carlson ProCare want to help you see through the marketing and hype and help you select the right shoe for your body.
A commonly used term in running shoe selection is pronation. People often think that any pronation is bad and should be prevented by motion control shoes. This is incorrect! Pronation is a normal rolling-in motion of the foot that allows the foot to absorb shock. A person that under-pronates is at risk for certain injuries, just as a person who over-pronates is at risk for different injuries. The amount of pronation a person demonstrates when running is determined by that person’s foot and ankle mechanics, including factors such as arch height, rearfoot valgus or varus (heel tilt), and forefoot valgus or varus (forefoot tilt).
Four Different Shoe Categories
Shoes generally fall into four categories: neutral, stability, motion control, and minimalist.
- Neutral Shoes: People with normal pronation or under-pronation need neutral shoes. These shoes have more cushioning than the other types of running shoes and have a more flexible sole.
- Stability Shoes: People with mild to moderate over-pronation can benefit from a stability shoe. Stability shoes have firmer support under the medial (inside) part of the foot, which helps prevent over-pronation.
- Motor Control Shoes: People who severely over-pronate may benefit from motion control shoes. These shoes have the firmest midsole that is often reinforced with a thermoplastic material.
- Minimalist Shoes: Minimalist shoes include “barefoot” style shoes. These shoes typically are much lighter weight, reduced midsole height, reduced rearfoot to forefoot drop, and increased flexibility. These shoes are very different from the three categories above due to their light weight, low cushion, and flexibility. Runners who wish to try this category of shoe should be cautious to slowly increase mileage while wearing this type of shoe to avoid injury.
So what is the best brand of running shoes? It depends on your body and what type of running you will be doing. Every brand has some shoes that are better than others. If you have a wide foot, New Balance, Brooks, Mizuno, or Altra may fit you best. If you are looking for a minimalist shoe, New Balance Minimus or Altra Vanish are good options. If you are looking for a cushioned running shoe, Hoka, Asics, and Brooks have several options to choose from.
The Right Running Shoe for You
No matter what category shoe you wear, it is very important to make sure the running shoes are the right size and width for your foot. Improperly sized shoes can cause black toenails, blisters, calluses, bunions, and foot pain. We recommend getting properly measured at a reputable running store. There are several locally owned shoe stores in the region that do a great job of helping people find proper running shoes. We do not have a financial relationship with them, we just appreciate the service they provide to customers. (Tell them Carlson sent you!) They include:
- The Athlete’s Source in Bethel
- Ridgefield Running Company in Ridgefield
- Woodbridge Running Company in Brookfield
If you have any questions about running shoe selection, our therapists are happy to help! Please contact us today for an appointment.
Andrea Myers, PT, DPT, OCS is a Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist. She graduated from St. Ambrose University in 2006 with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Andrea has a strong background in treating patients with a variety of orthopedic diagnoses, including sports injuries, back and neck pain, and patients who have undergone orthopedic surgery. She has extensive training in manual therapy, including myofascial release, Integrative Manual Therapy, craniosacral therapy, and Kinesiotaping. She is also certified in vestibular rehabilitation for the treatment of vertigo and balance disorders. Andrea is a former professional road cyclist with multiple top-ten placings in international competitions. She is a certified bike fitter and is well known for her knowledge and experience in treating cyclists and multi-sport athletes of all levels.