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Whether you're a marathon rockstar or just training for your first 5K, finding the right pair of running shoes is critical! Start off on the right foot with these tips and tricks.

Finding the Perfect Pair of Running Shoes

Arch Types

Understanding your arch type will help you figure out the amount of cushioning you need in your running shoes. In turn, this will help reduce your risk of injury and encourage overall foot health!

How To Find Your Arch Type - Do It Yourself:

  1. Pour a layer of water into a shallow pan.
  2. Wet the bottom of your foot.
  3. Step onto a paper towel or any surface that will leave an imprint of your foot.
  4. Look at the imprint and match it to one of the arch types below.
Flat (Low) Arch: A Flat or Low Arch will leave an imprint of almost the entire bottom of the foot. This foot type is usually an indication of the excessive inward roll of the foot after heel strike commonly referred to as overpronation. The arch collapses too much which may cause overuse injuries. Stability shoes with firmer medial support devises and flatter soles are best for low arches, moderate to severe overpronators, and heavier runners.
Normal (Medium) Arch: A normal or medium arch will leave an imprint of the heel and the forefoot connected by a wide band. After heel strike, this foot type will pronate or roll inward slightly to absorb shock. This is the most common foot type. Stability shoes that use support devices such as dual density midsoles and medial posts are best for this arch type.
High Arch: A High-Arched Foot will show an imprint of the heel and the forefoot connected by only a thin band. This type of foot does not overpronate at all, so its not an effective shock absorber. This is the least common foot type. Lack of pronation is generally called supination or under-pronation. A high-arches foot is best suited for neutral cushioning shoes that do not have stability devices or a medial post. This type of shoe has a softer midsole and more flexibility that will not inhibit natural pronation.

Gait Types

Overpronation
Neutral Pronation
Supination
(right foot)
(right foot)
(right foot)

Overpronation: The outside of the heel strikes the ground first and the foot rolls inward which means the foot and ankle cannot properly stabilize the body. Shock is not efficiently absorbed when overpronation occurs. Additionally, due to overpronation, the big toe and second toe must do all the work at the end of the gait cycle during toe-off.

The best shoes for overpronators are motion control or stability shoes depending on the severity of overpronation.

Neutral: The outside of the heel strikes the ground first and the foot rolls inward slightly absorbing the shock more effectively which allows the foot and ankle to properly support the body. The foot pronates, but not excessively. The foot pushes off evenly at the end of the gait cycle with mild pronation. Your ankles and feet maintain the vertical line of the lower leg.

The best shoes for neutral runners are neutral cushioning shoes for feet that are more rigid.

Supination: The outside of the heel strikes the ground first but the foot does not roll inward during the gait cycle. Instead it stays on the outside causing the impact to be concentrated on a smaller portion on the lateral side of the foot. This decreases shock absorption and causes the smaller toes to do most of the work during push-off.

The best shoes for supinators are more flexible neutral cushioning shoes with single-density midsoles.

Running Shoe Types

Neutral Cushioning Shoes

Best For: Runners with a high arch who do not pronate effectively.

Why? The midsole will provide the extra shock absorption that the lack of pronation is missing. Neutral running shoes also work well for midfoot and forefoot strikers.

Stability Shoes

Best For: Runners who have normal or medium arches who are mild to moderate overpronators.

Why? These shoes have some medial support and good midsole cushioning. Because normal or medium arches are the most common foot type, most runners will need stability shoes.

Minimalist Running Shoes

Best For: Runners that are looking for a barefoot-like experience, with some protection from the elements.

Why? Natural running does just that − allows your feet to work naturally, while strengthening your muscles.

Trail Running Shoes

Best For: Off-road runners

Why? Trail running shoes tend to offer more traction and stability. They also tend to be lower to the ground to provide more stability on uneven or rocky terrain.

Zappos Family Core Value:

10. Be Humble