Foot Fix: How to Choose the Right Running Shoe
Running may be an inexpensive sport, however, investing in the right shoe could ensure that you stay injury free. There is no single shoe that is perfect for everyone and finding the correct fit isn’t always easy. Hence, the shoe needs to feel comfortable with your running stride and fit properly from the heel to the toes.
Even before you try on a new pair of running shoes, it is helpful to understand some shoe anatomy and the purpose of each feature of a running shoe. Furthermore, it is helpful to understand how even a small differentiation may affect your running experience.
Here are some of the main shoe features to know:
The upper is the part of the shoe above the sole that covers the foot. Modern models typically use knitting and printing to create one-piece uppers that can stretch or support appropriately.
What to look for? The upper should be shaped like your foot and should feel snug without being too tight or too loose. It should also be smooth on the inside of the shoe, not rubbing, chafing or binding anywhere.
The Heel Counter
The heel counter is typically a semi-rigid plastic insert inside the rear foot. It is used to reinforce the heel cup of the shoe, providing shape and structure to the heel of the shoe. Some modern models employ an external heel wrap, and minimalist shoes generally eliminate the heel counter to allow full freedom of movement.
What to look for? A heel that feels comfortable and fits snugly without rubbing chafing or slippage.
The Ankle Collar
The ankle collar is the wrap at the top of the shoe opening that locks the heel down in place, some shoes will use thick padding, some rely more on the shape.
What to look for? Observe if your heel slips and how the padding feels around the bones on the sides of the ankles and around the back of the heel and achilles tendon.
The saddle is the reinforced area that wraps around the instep of the foot and interacts with the laces to hold the shoe snug and securely on the foot.
What to look for? The saddle should wrap snugly around the instep providing a secure feeling with no slippage while allowing for the natural movement of the foot during walking/running.
The toe box is the part of the shoe that covers and protects the toes.
What to look for? The toe box should stay out of the way of the toes allowing the foot to spread naturally in width, length, and depth without binding or chaffing the toes.
The shoe sole where the foot meets the ground, often made from a variety of rubber or foam.
What to look for? Look for material that is durable and provides traction without adding excess weight or stiffness to the shoe.
Toe Spring/Flex Grooves
Flex grooves under the ball of the foot make shoes bend like your foot bends. Turning the toe up, called a toe spring allows the foot to roll through the stride.
What to look for? The shoe should flex and roll the way your foot wants to move.
This is the foam sandwiched between the outsole and upper, which is designed to cushion from impact forces and support the foot through the stride.
What to look for? A midsole material and thickness that provides the right amount of cushion and support, neither too soft or too hard and without excess weight.
Heel to Toe Drop
The difference in height between heel and ball of the foot when standing in the shoe. Changing the drop distributes forces differently to foot and leg and can alter stride.
What to look for? The shoe should feel comfortable throughout the stride and reduce the load on any tissue that may be vulnerable to injury.
The foam liner inside the shoe (usually removable) that cushions and contours to the bottom of the foot. This liner can be removed in order to accommodate and allow for a better fit of functional foot orthoses.
What to look for? The sockliner should feel comfortable underfoot without causing irritation due to rubbing or chaffing.
Medial Post/Dual Density Midsole
A medial post is a section within the midsole that is firmer than the remainder of the midsole. Medial posts are usually made of EVA foam, which is denser than the rest of the midsole, and this is known as a dual density midsole. By placing a higher density foam in the midsole under the medial rearfoot and arch, pronation may be controlled.
What to look for? Shoes with a medial post may be a good choice for those with pronation related injuries.
Blog by Podiatrist,