Ward Off Pain And Injury By Getting The Best Shoes For Running

The most common culprit for foot, leg, and knee pain is getting the wrong footwear. These 10 pairs are a great starting off point. They are the most well received pairs from the most highly regarded brands. By matching these up to your personal running style, it's nearly impossible to go wrong.

Top 5 Women’s Shoes

cumulus-16Asics Gel Cumulus- Built to offer a touch of extra stability while being cushioned at the same time thanks to gel in the front and back of the shoe. One of the most lightweight options you can buy.

free-5 Nike Free Run 5.0 - A good option for the runner that wants a "barefoot like" ride without actually going barefoot. Lightweight width moderate arch support. If you run without socks these are probably not for you.

ghost-7Brooks Ghost 7 - For neutral pronators that want a slightly more cushioned ride. Seeks to be environmentally friendly by breaking down easier in landfills. Available in 2A, B, and D widths.

wt10v2New Balance WT10V2 - A barefoot like ride for those of us that want to take portions of our runs onto the trails. Wide toebox on a very interesting looking shoe. Available in D width.

asics-gel-excite2ASICS Gel Excite 2 - An excellent budget shoe for casual runners. Good for average to high arches that don't need a ton of support. Lightly cushioned sock liner is removable so you can add your own orthotic.

Top 5 Men’s Shoes

kayano-21Asics Gel Kayano 21- Like the 20 versions of Kayano that came before it, this is a high quality option built for mild over-pronators. Universally accepted as an excellent choice.

nike-pegasus-29Nike Air Pegasus 29 - A handsomely cushioned option that's made for the neutral to mild underpronator. Will support your foot while offering plenty of cushioning.

new-balance-m587New Balance M587 - This is a specialty shoe with lot's of stability combined with ample cushioning. It's specifically made for moderate to extreme over-pronators.

nike-flex-experience-3Nike Flex Experience 3 - Great budget option for low mileage runners. It's made for the neutral to maybe slightly under-pronator. No bells or whistles. A good all around shoe.

brooks-addiction-11Brooks Addiction 11 - Serious runners know what great gear Brooks makes. Gives these a chance if you're an over-proantor. You won't be disappointing by their comfortable ride.

Our feet are all different shapes and sizes, and the perfect shoe for your running partner may not be the perfect one for you. Different sneakers are designed for different feet, so before you make a trip down to the mall or order a pair on-line, learn what type of feet you have by reading the tips below.

The Most Important Consideration Is Pronation

When buying new running shoes, you need to know how you pronate. Pronation is simply the way your foot rolls inwards when you run. Everyone has different pronation tendencies, and it’s easy to discover yours just by looking at a pair of old shoes.


Overpronation happens when your foot rolls farther inwards than it should as you run. If you overpronate, the soles of your shoes will be worn along the inner side of the sole. Overpronation is a common problem among runners, and wearing a stability shoe that provides extra support for your ankles and arches can help.

Under-pronation, or supination, happens when your foot rolls slightly outwards. If you under pronate, then the soles of your shoes will be worn along the outer edge. Under pronation can put a lot of extra stress on your foot, and requires cushioning shoes that are able to absorb impact.

Your pronation tendencies will tell you if you should be looking at stability or cushioning shoes. Picking the right type of footwear will make your feet more comfortable and reduce the risk of injury during a run.

The Best Brands

There are an almost overwhelming number of shoe brands to choose from out there. Running shoes are very popular, and a lot of manufacturers have capitalized on the market. Some brands have a better reputation than others, and not every company offers the same selection of stability and cushioning running shoes. Some of the more prestigious names include:

  • Nike
  • New Balance
  • Reebok
  • Brooks
  • Saucony
  • Salomon

These brands are all very popular for a good reason. They sell comfortable, high quality running shoes that hold up through years of wear and tear.

What Type of Terrain Will You Be Running On?

Running on asphalt or pavement is a nothing like going for a run on a rugged nature trail. Road-running and trail-running shoes are designed differently to protect you from various types of terrain.

Trail-running shoes are built to help you run through dirt, mud and grass. Their outsoles are thick and have deep grooves with enough texture to get a solid grip on even loose ground. The body of the shoe is often waterproof and reinforced to offer your foot extra protection.

Road-running shoes are more lightweight and flexible. They offer additional cushioning to protect your foot from the impact of hitting a hard, even surface. Some road-running shoes are minimalist and offer little to no cushioning or support to encourage more muscle movement.

Breathable Upper

Running can make you sweat, and damp feet can get uncomfortable after a while. A breathable upper will allow airflow to reach your foot, cooling it down and keeping it dry. Some running shoes are made with nylon mesh to allow for ventilation without compromising durability. Nylon can withstand a long lifetime of abuse and is a lightweight material.

Cushioning and Support

How much support or cushioning your running shoe needs depends partly on your gait. Overpronators need shoes that provide extra stability, and under-pronators need extra cushioning. A shoe also should also conform comfortably to the shape of your foot.

Everybody’s foot has an arch, and how big that arch is determines what kind of midsole cushioning you need. Those with high arches need a flexible shoe with a cushioned midsole to absorb shock.

Flat-footed runners, on the other hand, need a stable midsole. Ethylene vinyl acetate, or EVA, is a foam used in a lot of midsoles that can be reinforced to offer extra support for flat arches. If you start to feel your arches cramping up, then you’ve overshot your mark and picked shoes with too much support.

Heel-to-Toe Drop

The heel-to-toe drop is the height difference between the heel and toe of a shoe. It affects how your foot strikes the ground and is an important factor in how well a shoe will reduce stress on your joints. A low heel-to-toe drop promotes a forefoot or midfoot strike, while a shoe with a high drop encourages a heel strike. Many running shoes offer a heel-to-toe drop around zero to encourage a low impact forefoot strike.

Snug, but Not Too Snug

A running shoe should feel snug, but not tight. There should be about a thumb’s length of wiggle room between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe, and just wide enough to move the tips of your feet from side to side. Your feet swell as you run, so a shoe that feels tight to begin with will be almost unbearable after a run.

Running shoes shouldn’t be too loose, either. The heel should be rigid and snug against the back of your foot. A loose shoe will let your heels slip around and can chafe your ankles as you move.

Why the Right Shoe is so Important

Your foot can hit the ground with quite a bit of weight when you run. The right kind of shoe will absorb some of this impact and reduce stress on your knees, hips and ankles. Underpronators are especially prone to stress fractures and joint problems, but wearing shoes with proper cushioning can offer protection.

Overpronators need to make sure that their ankles don’t move around too much or bend excessively. This puts stress on the joints and can lead to short term and chronic pain. A stabilized, motion controlled shoe helps overpronators to avoid injury while running.

If your shoe is too small, you may experience toe pain and cramping in your arch. A small shoe can also cause painful blisters to pop up while running. Choosing a shoe with enough wiggle room will keep your feet comfortable and prevent them from getting too hot or sweaty.

The Difference Between Men’s and Women’s Running Shoes

Men and women generally have different heights, weights and body shapes, so it makes sense that they also need different shoes. Both genders have a typical foot shape that needs to be taken into account when designing a shoe. A men’s shoe that is simply scaled down will not necessarily fit a woman well.

Men’s footwear is designed for large, wide feet. Since men are typically heavier, many male running shoes have a reinforced midsole. Women’s shoes fit feet that are wider in the toe area and narrower in the heel.

You don’t have to limit yourself to only models geared towards your gender. If you are a man who finds that most men’s running shoes are too wide, you may want to try on a pair of narrower women’s shoes. Conversely, women with wide feet sometimes fit well in men’s shoes.

Proper footwear can make a huge difference both during and after your runs. Wearing the right running shoe can help you to move more efficiently, to keep cool and comfortable, and to avoid injuries.