When people talk about running shoes, they tend to refer to them as a category, without much thought to the subcategories like road running shoes or trail running shoes. As a category though, running shoes are designed to act as shock absorbers for the impact that is generated during running. Particularly if you run on hard surfaces, the value of a good running shoe cannot be underestimated and should be treated with the respect that a piece of equipment designed to protect your joints, deserves. The selection of running shoes on the market is enormous, so where do you start when you need to find the perfect pair?
First, figure out your foot shape
The shape of your foot (which is generally determined by the shape of your arches) is the first factor that will play a role in what kind of shoes you need. The shape of your foot is in turn likely to affect your gait, which will inform what type of support you will need. The value of doing your homework (and doing it well) cannot be emphasized enough.
If you pay a visit to an Asics store in AU, the staff will be able to help you with an assessment of your feet to determine what your gait is, and will be able to advise you accordingly. They will look at your pronation, which is largely about how far your foot rolls inwards or outwards when you move, and advise you on what to do if you are found to be an overpronator or underpronator.
Testing your gait on your own
It is also possible to test your pronation at home, using a technique called the wet foot test. All you need to do is to wet your foot, and put it down on a piece of paper for 10 seconds. When you study the print, you will be able to find out a lot about your feet that might come as a surprise!
Depending on the thickness of the band joining the front and back parts of your foot, you will be able to make a basic diagnosis on whether you have flat feet or high oraches, which will affect your pronation. The one limitation of the wet foot test is that it does not take your weight, existing injuries, or running style into account, which may still leave you in need of a professional opinion.
What do I do once I know my gait?
Bear in mind that your gait isn’t right or wrong, desirable, or undesirable – it just is. The purpose of knowing it is to empower you to buy the correct shoes for your type to keep yourself free from injury. An advisor at any of the Asics stores in Australia will be able to advise you on whether you need extra support or padding. Remember that functionality always comes first and that the appearance of any given running shoe should never be a priority over what it offers. The right shoe is your ticket to running without injury, and to better performance.
Waterproofing: nice, but not a deal-breaker
Running shoes that offer a measure of water resistance while maintaining breathability can be great to have, especially if you live in a damp climate. This arrangement will keep your feet dry and ventilated while allowing the heat generated from running to escape from your feet and keep them cool. Dry feet are happy feet, so a moisture-wicking component will go a long way in preventing the development of blisters.
The perfect fit – maybe not at a cost
An expensive shoe isn’t automatically the right shoe, and one of the best things you can do for your sanity is to stay out of the mind trap that more expensive means better. The perfect shoe is the one that ticks the boxes on all your requirements, and the price should never be considered an indicator of this.
When you try on the shoes in the store, remember to bring socks that are similar to the ones you will be running in the long term. Socks can make a huge difference to how your shoes feel and how you experience wearing them. Cotton socks are not a good idea for running, as their moisture-wicking properties are not great, and the accumulation of excess moisture could lead to blisters and chafing.