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How to buy running shoes: Tips to treat your feet well

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Looking for the right running trainers can be a daunting process. Contrary to popular belief, there really is no such thing as the perfect shoe. Everyone has different needs, so it’s a matter of finding what works for you.

So how do you know which running shoe is right for you and your training?

We asked some experts how to buy running shoes. Here’s their advice.

Know your running profile

Most runners will find it relatively easy to find the right shoe for them with the right advice; so first things first, determine what you will be doing with them. Are you a jogger or a runner? Do you run 15 miles a week or 25? Do you run on trails, tarmac or a treadmill? Are you training for a race?

A teenage track runner is going to have very different needs to a middle-aged marathon runner.

A heavier person will also need different trainers to a light, skinnier person and you’ll need to "take into account your mileage, foot plant and weight as well as making sure you get a good fit and feel comfortable," says Nick Anderson, a running coach for Saucony UK. "There is a running shoe out there for every body type but always visit a local specialist running store and get chatting to the staff who will have been trained by the brands on choosing the right shoes for you."

Identify your running style

Are you a heel striker? Do you fall into the forefoot striker category, or do you under pronate? "Running style is important when choosing a new pair of shoes," says Tim Burt, from Adidas running.

"Finding which foot-strike you are can be as easy as going for a run and taking note of how your foot hits the floor. Alternatively you could head to a running specialist. Here you’ll not only find out about your running style, but you’ll also get expert advice on which shoe suits the way you move."

Am I a forefoot or heel striker?

If you land and push off from your toes when you run, rather than land on the outside edge of your heel, then roll through your foot to push off from your toes, then you’ll fall into the forefoot striker category (like many athletes and sprinters do), and will need to choose a shoe that "has plenty of forefoot cushioning," says Nick.

"Although the shoe choice can vary depending on experience and other injury prevention factors relevant to you, generally speaking a neutral shoe is also what you need."

On the other hand, if you run from heel to toe, and you’re a heel striker "you’ll benefit from having more cushioning,” explains Tim.

"This is because a lot of the force taken on impact is directed up through the bones rather than through the suspension of the ligaments like forefoot runners."

Be sure to identify any injuries you have developed from running as well. Problems such as shin splints, blisters, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and back pain can often be caused by ill-fitted shoes and make your running experience miserable.

"Your feet hit the ground thousands of times every mile in a marathon, and the long training runs," says Nick. "Your running shoes really are your best friend!"

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