Top Tips for Buying Training Shoes


Buying running or training shoes can be a complicated and expensive venture. But can make the difference between having an enjoyable running experience and a bad one. It can also reduce your risk of injuries. Where do you go to get the advice needed to get the perfect running shoe?

Here are some little pointers for choosing the right shoe for you.

The main points are:

1. Workout your foot type

2. Try shoes that are designed to support your foot type

3. Make sure shoe fits correctly

4. Feel the shoe

5. Where possible, have two pairs of trainers if you run/walk a lot or exercise most days

The most important point to remember is that everybody’s foot is different. It doesn’t matter what your best friend advocates as the best running shoe in the world, or what is on special offer at the local sports store. You need to understand your feet and what they need in order to perform at their best. This may sound daunting, but if you take the time to figure out your foot type you will reap the rewards.


Understanding pronation:

Understanding what pronation is helps a lot (refer here for more information). Pronation of the foot is when the heel bone angles inward and the arch tends to collapse. Feet can vary from over pronating to under pronating.

One easy way of deciding what you are, is to look at the wear on the bottom of an old pair of shoes. If the shoe seems to have pretty uniform wear you probably have a neutral foot. If there is excessive wearing on the outside of the shoe you are an underpronator, and if there is inside wear of the shoe you are over pronating.

Another way of figuring out your foot type is to look at your footprint. Normal arches have a have a perfect footprint. Low arches (or flat feet) as in those people who over pronate, have a fat footprint. High arches, or under pronators present with a considerably smaller footprint.

Now you know which foot type you are you can ask to try on the shoes that give your foot the correct support i.e. stability shoes for pronators, neutral shoes for neutral feet and cushioned shoes for underpronators.


Shoe tightness:

The next important thing is to make sure the shoe fits correctly. There should be no bagging around the toe, but not so small that the toenails are pinching. You should be able to press your thumb into the shoe just above the longest toe and the thumb should fit between end of toe and top of shoe. Also check there is adequate room at the widest part of foot. Shoes shouldn’t feel tight, but shouldn’t slide around.

The heel of the shoe should fit snugly against the back of the foot, and make sure there is a firm heel cup for calcaneal (heel) support. Try to walk/jog in the shoes as much as you can before you purchase them. Local sport shops are often most helpful and sometimes have a podiatrist who works onsite.

It is also good to have a feel of the shoe, pick it up and see how heavy it feels, this can affect how efficient your running is and how quickly you will fatigue. There should be minimal twisting and torsion through the shoe. Bend the shoe and check that it flexes under the first ray (ball of foot) not in the middle of the shoe.

For those of you doing pose running make sure there is a reduced drop in height from heel to forefoot, then progressing to neutral foot running (or barefoot running). There needs to be a slow progression in order to be able to do this.


“Do I need a different shoe for running and one shoe for the gym?

If you are running a couple of times each week and attending the gym a few times in addition, or are a high mileage runner, you should consider having at least two pairs of running shoes to alternate between. The reason for this is that  the cushioning in shoes needs approximately 24 hours to recover between runs or workouts.

Shoes should also be replaced every 500 to 800km or every three to four months as they lose approximately 40-60 percent of shock absorption properties in this time.


The information and content of this website is of a general nature only and does not constitute advice to you. By accessing this website, you agree that: (1) you do not rely on the information and content of this website and (2) you will seek personalised medical, nutritional and/ or fitness advice applicable to your circumstances (as appropriate).

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