Do you need to buy shoes specifically designed for running to head out for a casual jog? Yes, you do. No matter how tempting it is to slip on any old pair of sneakers, a great running shoe helps prevent injury and improves your experience.
Seasoned runners can find extensive information about different types of running shoes for everything from trail running to specific foot shapes. The rest of us need something less overwhelming. Let’s take a look at some general features to look for in a great running shoe.
Great running shoes fit properly and comfortably without needing to be broken in, which is true for any shoe. But running shoes have different components than street shoes.
The front area of your running shoe is the toe box. It provides protection and adequate space for your toes.
The toe box in a running shoe needs to be long enough to allow for some swelling during a run. This is a normal phenomenon that your shoes need accommodate with extra length.
The toe box also needs to be wide enough to allow for toe movement. If your toes are squeezed together you’re more likely to develop blisters. A great running shoe has a toe box wider than the ball of your foot.
The upper of a running shoe is the term used for everything above the sole. The upper should have a snug, comfortable fit. A seamless upper has fewer areas of potential blister-causing friction. Some incorporate reflective material for safer running.
The most important consideration for the upper of a running shoe is comfort. The shoe should be comfortable from the very first wear, providing good support. Most uppers are made with flexible materials that allow the shoe to stay snug while adapting to changing foot conditions during a run.
Everyone has experienced the painful blisters that come with shoes that allow your heel to slip while you walk or run. Make sure that your running shoes have a proper heel counter.
The heel counter wraps around the back of the shoe, increasing stability and providing protection for your heel. If your heel slips even a little when you try on the shoes, move on to a different pair.
Figuring out what kind of arches you have makes it a lot easier to choose a great running shoe. Low, medium, and high arches benefit from different levels of stability and padding.
There are great shoes for every arch type. Proper arch support helps your foot maintain optimal positioning.
These general guidelines will help you recognize a great running shoe. But not every great running shoe will be your perfect running shoe. Keeping in mind what you’ve learned here, head to a reputable shoe store and get expert help.
A lightweight, supportive, comfortable running shoe that meets the needs of your feet and your running stride is an important accessory for maintaining healthy feet.