Are you among the 60 million Americans who enjoy running for exercise?
If so, you understand the importance of finding the right running shoes. Not only can they improve your performance, but they also help to protect you against common running injuries.
There's a dizzying array of women's running shoes out there—cushioning, stability, motion control. We also run on a variety of surfaces, from sandy beaches and hard roads to rugged mountain trails.
What are the best running shoes for women? And with so many options available, how can you determine which type of running shoes are best for you?
In this post, we'll consider eight ways to select the perfect running shoes for your needs. Read on to learn more!
1. Know Your Footstrike Type
Footstrike—a strange word with enormous meaning. There are three types of footstrike when it comes to running:
- Pronated ("flat-footed")
- Supinated (high arches)
- Neutral (neither pronated nor supinated)
If you're uncertain where you fall on the chart, try stepping with wet feet onto a flat piece of paper.
If the print you leave behind reveals much of your sole, you're pronated. If it hardly shows any, you're supinated. If it appears balanced, you're likely in the neutral category.
Different running shoes are designed for different strike types, so make sure you know yours before you go shopping.
2. Determine Your Running Style
Are you a casual weekend jogger, or do you run 10 miles every morning?
Do you run mostly on paved roads? The beach? Or are you running over rough mountain trails?
Are you training for an upcoming long-distance race? Or do you need new shoes for your CrossFit classes?
There's a running shoe designed for each of these styles. Generally speaking, the longer you run (and the rougher the terrain), the more cushioning you need from your running shoes.
3. Understand Shoe Styles
Remember the three styles of footstrike we mentioned earlier? There's a shoe designed for each strike pattern.
Motion-control shoes are ideal for pronators. They offer extra support on the inside, or medial, part of the shoe. This helps to relieve pressure from "flat" arches.
Cushioning shoes are best for supinators. They offer enhanced shock absorption in the mid and outer sole. This takes the pressure off the outside of the foot.
Stability shoes are designed for runners with a neutral foot strike. They combine features from both motion control and cushioning shoes.
All major brands of running shoes offer options in each of these three categories. Identifying your foot strike is the first step to identifying the best running shoes for you.
Of course, it's not only about function—aesthetics count for something too. A shoe like Adidas Superstar is minimalistic, while companies like ASICS offer fancier, flashier styles.
4. Consider the Terrain
We touched on this before, but let's emphasize it again.
Running shoes come in a variety of styles and "weights." Lightweight running shoes are great for races or fast-paced workouts, but they won't be as durable as a bulkier model.
Trail running shoes, on the other hand, are essential if you're covering hard, uneven surfaces. The thicker soles provide better grip and shock absorption and will last a lot longer than a thinner model.
Again, you need to factor in where you run. Lightweight, thin-soled running shoes are ideal for jogging on the beach, but it would be a disaster to use them on a rocky trail.
If you run mostly on a treadmill or a flat, smooth road, an everyday running shoe is probably all you need.
5. Find the Right Fit
When you're ready to start shopping, try on a variety of shoe styles to see what feels best to you.
Your feet spread as you run, so you need to factor in enough space for this. A good rule of thumb (pardon the pun) is one thumb's width between the end of your foot and the end of the shoe.
Your foot should feel comfortable and balanced inside the shoe, without any areas that pinch or rub. If your feet are especially wide or narrow, be sure to look for running shoes that accommodate your size.
6. Factor in the Cost
As is true with many things in life, you get what you pay for (most of the time).
A higher price tag generally means advanced technology and extra comfort. However, that doesn't mean you have to buy the most expensive running shoes on the shelf.
Expect to pay between $100-$150 for a high-quality pair of running shoes. Beware of shoes that fall well short of this mark, as they may not last very long.
7. Learn the Lingo
How versed are you in running terminology? You don't need to become an expert, but there are some basic running shoe terms you should know.
"Stack height" refers to the distance between your foot and the ground. The more cushioning your running shoe has, the greater the stack height.
"Heel-toe drop" refers to the amount of material beneath the heel versus the amount beneath the forefoot. The more material under the heel, the more it will absorb the impact of each landing.
These are just a few examples of runner-specific lingo you'll want to brush up on before shoe shopping.
8. If in Doubt, Ask
Our final tip for finding the best running shoes is to simply ask for advice.
If you have any questions or concerns, visit your local running store. Have the salesperson measure both your feet, since few people have exactly the same size feet.
Bring in your current shoes for comparison or to analyze the wear pattern. Try on several pairs of shoes that address your needs and make an educated decision from there.
The Best Running Shoes for Women: Time to Shop
The best running shoes for women really translates into the best running shoes for YOU. Our feet come in different shapes and sizes, and the terrain we run on varies from soft sand to mountain peaks.
When you're ready to buy your next pair of running shoes, refer back to this post. That way you'll ensure you buy the best pair of running shoes for your feet!
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