Types of Running Shoes. Hutton Health

Types of Running Shoes

25th January 2023

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When you shop online or in a store for a running shoe, you are faced with walls and pages full of choices. Finding the perfect running shoe can be a challenge but wearing supportive and comfortable shoes can transform your running experience. Running shoes are the most important piece of equipment for an enjoyable and injury free running journey.

Ill fitting shoes can leave you prone to pain, blisters and injuries. 

Factors that affect the shoe that will be right for you include:

  • Your biomechanics
  • The surface you will be running on
  • Your foot type
  • Gait
  • Weight
  • Training goals

How are running shoes classified?

Running shoes are classified based on their structure, form and function. They vary depending on the terrain you will be running on as well as your foot and gait. 

Pronation refers to the way your foot rolls when it hits the pavement. There are 3 main types of pronation:

1. Overpronation

If you overpronate, your weight rolls inward when your foot strikes the ground which causes the foot to flatten as it moves through a running motion. Overpronators tend to have a low or flat arch which puts pressure on the inside edge of the foot rather than on the ball of the foot. 

Those who overpronate are more prone to bunions, plantar fasciitis and heel spurs.

2. Underpronation

If you underpronate (also known as supination), your weight rolls outward when your foot strikes the ground.  It is often caused if you have a high arch. Those who underpronate are susceptible to shin splints, ankle sprain and plantar fasciitis

3. Neutral (normal)

The wear on the tread of your trainer will be evenly worn all the way around. Although neutral pronators have a lower risk of injury, without the right running shoes, they are not immune to injuries. 

If you overpronate or underpronate, it can add stress to your body which can negatively affect your joints. Wearing the correct pair of running shoes can help keep your foot in a more neutral position which can help keep you injury and pain free while running. 

A quick way to check whether you overpronate or underpronate is to find a pair of running shoes that you have been previously wearing. If the tread on the bottom of your running shoe is worn excessively on the inside of your shoe, you likely overpronate. The tread being worn excessively on the outside means you likely underpronate.

Types of Running Shoes

1. Motion Control/Stability Shoes

Motion control running shoes are often referred to as stability shoes. They have support in the arch region to prevent overpronation (rolling in). Stability shoes offer extra support to help neutralise the running motion each step. 

Good for: Runners with low arches and moderate to severe over-pronation

Types of running shoes list

2. Cushioned Shoes

Cushioned shoes focus on providing cushion and support and are a great choice for runners with neutral pronation. The amount of cushion will vary depending on the shoe, but the intention is to reduce the impact each time your foot hits the pavement. 

Good for: Runners with little to no pronation

3. Lightweight Shoes

Lightweight shoes offer less support and have less cushioning than other running shoes. They are great for racing and speedwork since they have less weight and bulk to them.              

Good for: Speedwork and racing

Cushioned shoes on leaves

4. Trail Shoes

Trail running shoes are built for off-road running (trail running) with softer surfaces.

Trail running shoes offer more support, protection and stability than road running shoes do. These shoes are also stiffer to help reduce movement from side to side and have a more aggressive tread to help with traction. This allows more efficient and safer running on the terrain found on trails, such as mud, rocks, roots, and dirt. Often trail running shoes will have an element of waterproofing in them.

Good for: Trail running

Trail shoes in mud

Many running stores will offer gait analysis. This will help them suggest the type of running shoe that will be best for you. If you are shopping online, you can often filter your search by the type of running shoe you are looking for. I often purchase shoes from sportsshoes.com and find both their prices good and the search functions easy to navigate. 

Finding the right pair of shoes can make the running miles fly by. Every great run starts with the shoes on your feet! Ultimately, the perfect pair of running shoes for you is the pair that you find comfortable to run in. 

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