Finding the right workout shoes can be time-consuming, frustrating and confusing. Between all the brands and styles available, the runner can feel overwhelmed and end up picking a shoe simply based on looks or price. Do not just pick a pair of shoes that fit your budget and match your outfit. There is a better way to know how to choose the right workout shoes.
How to Begin Choosing the Proper Running Shoe
Find a shoe store that is locally-owned and operated by athletes. Many towns have a shoe store or two that is owned and operated by runners. Talk with avid runners that you know and see if they can recommend a store that fits this description. The employees of these shops typically have much more knowledge about shoe fit and function than the employees at general shoe stores. The American College of Sports Medicine, or ACSM, recommends purchasing shoes from someone knowledgeable about matching the correct type of running shoes based on your foot type and stride pattern.
Ask the employee to assess your normal walk or run with no shoes on. The employees who are experienced will be able to watch you walk or run and look for unique ways that you move at your various joints. Most people roll inward, or pronate, their foot, so many shoes provide special inserts to reduce this. If you are a person who does not pronate, then you do not want to purchase a shoe that is designed for someone who does. The employee will assess what you do when you walk and run and know what shoe is best for you.
Bring a couple pairs of your old athletic shoes with you. The employees can look at your stride pattern from your older shoes and begin to see a clearer picture of how you walk and run. This is all part of the process of deciding on which shoes will fit you the best and reduce your chances of injury.
What to Avoid When Choosing a Running Shoe
Ignore the cool visual effects on the lateral, or outside, part of the shoe. The various colorful and flashy plastic or rubber attachments are often placed there to catch your eye. Most shoe stores place the shoes on racks with the lateral part of the shoe facing out. Manufacturers know this and that is why they put a lot of money into putting so many flashy gadgets on the outside of the shoes.
Do not just try them on, look in the mirror and decide if they feel good. Run and walk around in several pairs of shoes. You need to actively move in the shoes in order to get a better idea of how they will feel when you are active. If you will be participating in sports where there is jumping involved, then jump. ACSM recommends making sure you try on both shoes and that you keep them on your feet for about 10 minutes to make sure they remain comfortable.
Watch out for imbalanced shoes. Hold the shoe in your hands and look at it from the top down. If you notice that almost all of the special effects built into the shoe are on the outside of the shoe as described above, then you will probably also notice that the shoe weighs more on the outside. This weight imbalance can translate into potential orthopedic problems for you down the road. If you can feel a noticeable weight difference, then do not purchase the shoe.
The Final Decision
Forget about price or looks. That is going to be hard to do, but you have to remember that these shoes are designed to help you perform better and reduce the chances for injury. They are not a fashion statement and looking for a thrifty deal may cost you much more when you end up visiting the doctor more frequently due to injury.
Purchase the shoes from a store that has a good return policy. Some stores will not let you return the shoes once they have been worn. This would not be a good store to purchase your shoes from since you will not know if they fit properly until you wear them a couple of times. A good athletic shoe store will allow you to return the shoe within a period of time if you find that they are uncomfortable for any reason.
American College of Sports Medicine: A Running Shoe