Gym Gear 101: Choosing the Right Running Shoes For Your Foot Type

March 10, 2019 - 6 minutes read

4 simple steps to get you into the proper sneakers.

Finding the shoe that’s right for you is often easier said than done. With brands releasing new components, colours and styles almost daily, you have a sea of options to choose from at a wide range of price points. This makes the seemingly simple task of replacing your runners one that now requires a bit more research and consideration.

The next time you’re ready to head out on the sneaker hunt, use these tips to determine how and when you should be shopping for the right (and left) shoe.

1. Identify your foot type

Most people fall into one of three categories when it comes to their foot-profile: over-pronation, normal pronation or under-pronation (also referred to as: supination).

Employees at run-specific shops are trained to assess your feet and can often tell which of these groups you fit into based on a few simple factors.

Test it out for yourself and complete our quick quiz to identify your foot type.

2. Choose within your foot profile

If you choose a pair of shoes that don’t address the needs of your foot, you can actually cause more harm than good and can even increase your chance of injury.

Say, for example, you have high arches. Choosing a pair of shoes that have a build up of dense material on the inside of the sole will promote rolling outward of the foot; a motion that you probably already do naturally. Instead of correcting this movement, you will be encouraging it and will likely experience pain along the outer edge of your knee because of it.

Here’s what to look for within each foot profile:

Over Pronators

Your best shoe type: Motion Control or Stability

Shoes recommended for over pronators are designed to maintain an arch in the medial part of your foot so look for words like “stability” and “motion control”. These shoes will have a rigid insole, wide base, rigid heel and more of a straighter shape to them in order to correct the tendency of your foot to collapse inward.

Some shoes will actually put a denser material along the inner edge where the arch should be to physically guide your foot outwards as you run.

Supinators

Your best shoe type: Cushioning

People who supinate need to look for runners that absorb shock and offer a softer midsole so look for words like “cushioning” and “flexible”. These shoes will look more curved and will not restrict the inner edge of your foot to allow your arch to fall and help prevent you from rolling outward.

People with high arches may notice that their shoe size increases over time as their arches can gradually fall, causing the foot to lengthen.

Neutral/Normal Feet

Your best shoe type: Stability

The only restrictions for people with neutral/normal feet is that you don’t opt for either of the above extremes. You can otherwise choose pretty much any shoe on the wall, as long as it’s not specifically designed to correct for fallen or raised arches.

3. Determine proper sizing

If you can, try shopping for sneakers later in the day when your feet are at their largest. When you find your proper pair, put the shoes on and test that the size is right by ensuring that you have half an inch of extra space in front of your big toe, allowing you to comfortably wiggle all of your toes.

If you’re unsure about fit, remove the shoe and do a quick comparison to your bare foot – if each shoe isn’t obviously longer and wider than your foot, you may want to see how half a size larger feels.

4. Know when to replace your runners

The average lifespan of a pair of sneakers is about 650 km (and keep in mind, this includes when you’re simply walking in your shoes, not just when you go for a run). Don’t worry if you don’t keep an accurate log of your run distances though, just take a look at the breakdown in cushioning and tread every so often to see how the shoes are holding up.

If you can’t tell by just looking at them, your body will tell you soon enough – once you start getting shin splints or knee pain, you should probably head back in to pick up a new pair of kicks.