A new kind of shoe guide will help you find the best training shoe.
Written by: Matt Fitzgerald and Adam Chase, with Sean McKeon
You have probably been taught that you should buy running shoes based on the structure of your foot—specifically, if you have a low arch, you should buy motion control trainers; if you have a medium arch, you should buy stability trainers; and if you have a high arch, you should buy cushioned trainers. The rationale behind this system is that matching shoe type with foot structure reduces injury risk by controlling pronation and supination of the foot during running.
In fact, this reasoning is erroneous. A new study from the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine proves definitively that assigning shoe types based on foot-arch height does not reduce injury risk. Other research suggests that injury risk is reduced when runners simply choose the running shoes that they find most comfortable. It may be that the feeling of comfort in a shoe comes from a good fit and a combination of other characteristics that enable the runner’s joints to move naturally in their preferred patterns, minimizing strain on the lower extremities.
If comfort is the most important factor to consider when selecting running shoes, then a training shoe review should try to give individual runners the best possible sense of which specific shoes they are likely to find most comfortable. That’s exactly what this review does.
Each runner has distinct preferences in the characteristics that affect how a shoe fits, feels and rides. For example, some runners find a firmly cushioned impact most comfortable while others like a softly cushioned impact. Nine major characteristics determine the fit, feel, and ride of a running shoe. You will find a list of them here. Take a moment to circle your preferences, then match them up against the “personality profiles” of the 17 shoes in this review as determined by our wear testers.
A given shoe need not match your preferences perfectly to merit a try-on. We’re dealing in feelings here, not measurable attributes. But if you consciously shop for shoes by comfort and make an effort to identify your preferences as a part of this process, you will consistently take home better shoes for your needs than if you follow the old, discredited, pseudoscientific advice to shop by foot structure.
Click on the shoe to read the review.