Christian Louboutin, the famous French shoe designer has rightly said, "A shoe is not only a design, but it's a part of your body language, the way you walk. The way you are going to move is quite dictated by your shoes." Choosing the right shoe becomes even more significant if you are choosing running shoes, as a wrong shoe can cause serious damage to knees, hips and ankles. While running has cardiovascular and other health benefits, it is extremely important to choose the right pair of shoes to avoid unnecessary stress on joints in the leg. Beginner's are generally excited as well as startled with the large variety of shoes available in the market. So are you confused how to choose the right shoe?
This article details all the factors that need to be considered for making the right purchase. Choosing the right shoe is a three step process:
Step 1. Evaluate yourself on three factors: Foot type, Weight and Experience level
To determine the right shoe for yourself, determine your foot type, weight and experience level. Foot type is determined by the height of arches of the feet. Shoes are designed keeping in mind the various foot types to minimize the risk of injuries while running. The Wet Test. You would now be wondering about how would you know your foot type. Well, a simple 'Wet Test' can help you in determining your foot type. With bare wet foot, create an imprint on the floor and you can determine your foot type.There are three foot types universally:
a. Normal Foot: The heel and the ball of the foot is wide in the imprint with a narrow area in the center.
b. Flat Foot: This type of foot has low arch and thus the imprint is uniform at the ball, center and the heels.
c. High Arch Foot: The center of the foot is extremely narrow and sometimes the imprint also shows no connection between the ball and the heel.The shape of arch plays an important role, shoes with arch support causes discomfort for people with flat feet while absence of arch support can lead to foot fatigue in those who have normal and high arches.
Weight is another significant factor which should be considered. Heavier runners require additional cushioning and motion control to prevent injuries while runners with moderate weight can manage with less cushioning.
Beginner's bodies are still adapting to the motion and the impacts of running, hence they need more cushioning while experienced runners can afford to have less cushioning and protection.
Step 2. Evaluate your running
The type of surface you are planning to run and how much you are planning to run will also determine the choice of running shoes.
If you are planning to do most of your running on the track or plains, you can choose lighter shoes with less protection while heavier shoes are recommended if you are planning to run across rough and uneven terrain. Heavier shoes provide more protection from all sides and hence reduce the risk of injury.
If you are planning to run for long periods and distances, then go for shoes with rigid and tough soles which take longer to wear out while lighter soles should be preferred if you are planning to run regularly or short distances only.
Step 3. Finalize the shoe which best meets your requirements
Now that you have decided how you will be using your shoes, it is time to make the choice for the right shoe. The main types of shoes available are as follows:
a. Motion Control: These are best for people with flat foot. They have a wider sole and are slightly bulkier.
b. Stability: These suit people with medium and normal arches. They have moderate cushioning to absorb shock and prevent injury
c. Cushion: They are recommended for people with high arches, as the extra cushion absorbs the shocks and reduces pain in the joints.
d. Trail: These are designed for running on uneven and rough surface and have extra protection on all sides to prevent injuries. This type of shoes are available for all foot types.
e. Racing: Once again available for all foot types, this type of shoes are designed for speed and are extremely lightweight. They have minimal cushioning and are advisable for experienced runners only.
Finally, before settling for a particular pair, try a number of different pairs and purchase the shoe half a size bigger than the one which you normally wear. Also try to make this purchase in the later part of the day when the feet are slightly swollen due to walking during the day. When it comes to choosing a running shoe, the most important factor is COMFORT. Comfortable shoes are least likely to cause an injury. Hence based on the above mentioned three steps determine a shoe which best fits your requirement and is comfortable while walking and make the purchase.