Our top tips for choosing the perfect pair of running shoes to reduce your risk of injury and improve performance
For runners, there is no investment more important than a pair of quality running shoes. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re already in the practice of a daily run, your shoes should cushion the impact of each step, support your alignment and ensure you are getting the most out of your training.
If you are in the market for a new pair of running shoes, this handy guide is here to help.
How running shoes should fit
Most runners should buy shoes at least a half-size bigger than their regular shoe size. When we run, our feet tend to swell and expand. Your new running shoes should feel roomy when you first try them on.
How long do running shoes last?
The thing about running shoes is that they get old, fast. To get the most out your training, and to support your feet, legs and body over time, you should replace your shoes when you start to notice a difference in the fit or texture as you strike the ground. If you’re not sure, a good rule of thumb is to replace your shoes every 400-700 kilometres. So if you run 2 kilometres a day, you should probably buy one to two pairs a year.
The surface you run on counts
If you run on a running track or rubberised training field, you won’t need as much cushioning under your feet and your shoes can be lighter. The so-called barefoot running shoes trend that took hold a few years ago are appropriate for running on soft surfaces, and many runners love the lightweight feel. If you run on concrete or a hard road, your running shoes should have a thicker, spongier sole to cushion the impact. If you run on uneven ground, like a bush track, invest in a pair of quality trail shoes that support your ankles. It will reduce the risk of injury if you misstep and accidentally roll your ankle.
Your running shoes should support any existing injuries
If you have bad knees, bad ankles or a bad back, your choice of running shoes is especially important. If you have a pre-existing injury in your knees, like runner’s knee, you are going to want to look for extra cushioning on the soles. If you tend to get sore ankles, running shoes with a high sock and a harder outer structure will help to support them, so trail running shoes may be a good choice for you.
If your back is compromised the key thing to consider is alignment. Many back issues such as mild sciatica can be managed with stretching, an altered stride and the correct running shoes. However, if you have extreme and ongoing pain, it’s a good idea to see a sports physiotherapist to treat the underlying issue.
For all kinds of pain associated with running, there are a group of experts who suggest ditching running shoes altogether, or buy a pair that most closely mimics barefoot running. If this works for you, then go for it, but if you’re running on hard surfaces the overwhelming consensus is still to use a pair of running shoes with cushioned soles.
Buy running shoes to fit your particular foot
Sounds simple right? If you are not sure, or you have high arches or an extreme flat foot, going into a running shoe store to get fitted is probably a great idea. If you have a neutral step, or if your roll is not too extreme, a pair of high quality running shoes that feel comfortable to walk and run in will most probably suit your needs.
High arch running shoes
Overpronation running shoes
Lightweight running shoes
Running shoes for flat feet
Cushioned running shoes
Trail running shoes for uneven surfaces
The proper running shoes will feel right for you. If you have tricky feet, it might take a couple of pairs of shoes before you find the ones that were made for your feet. Once you do, remember the brand or the features that made them so great. If you are running every day, even high quality running shoes will wear out fast and for the best performance, you will need to replace them frequently.