After you’ve decided you’re actually going to plunk down the money for a shoe that will protect your feet, a pair that will give enough shock absorption, motion control, flexibility and durability, how much should you pay? Count on $100, although you could get away with as little as $80. Anything less than that is a waste of money.
Know what pronation is? It’s the natural movement of your foot, back to front and from out to in as the heel rolls down and in towards the pushoff with the ball of the foot. If you’re “overpronating” your feet are rolling too far inward, and this will lead to injuries of the lower leg and knee. Underpronating is not rolling enough after making contact, which is bad for absorbing shock, and which will lead to injury as well.
Usually you can tell what your pronation is by checking the arch in your foot. Flat foot runners tend to overpronate, while high-arched foot people usually underpronate. “Normal” arched runners, which account for about half of all runners, pronate correctly. All this matters when you come to selecting a shoe, since foot type and pronation patterns determine what shape shoe you need.
Running shoes come in straight, semicurved and curved types. If you’re an overpronator you need a straight shoe. Runners who underpronators need shoes with greater shock absorption, and should get a curved shoe. Normal arched athletes can take a semicurved shoe.
Overpronators should also get shoes that feature “motion control,” have firm rather than soft midsoles, and a firm heel counter. If you can find one with a dual-density midsole as well, buy the shoe. High-arched underpronators need more cushioning shoes, ones that let the foot roll in to absorb shock. Look for a soft cushioned midsole too.
“Normal” arched runners can focus solely on fit and comfort, and should look for what manufacturers call “stability” shoes. The staff at a specialty running store can easily determine your pronation proclivity, and can assist you in finding the correct shoe. Make sure you shop in the late afternoon, when your feet are the largest, and that both of your feet are measured and the pair fitted for the larger foot. Usually your running shoe will be a half-size larger than a street shoe, and good stores will encourage you to take a test run in the shoes before buying.