Picking the Right Running Shoes

How many of you out there are running in shoes that are not comfortable? Many times I have gone to a running store where they have measured my foot length/width then had me stand on a force plate to measure my weight distribution and arch type.  Following their recommendation I purchased the shoes and went for a run.  While running I realized that the shoe wasn’t that comfortable but I figured I had to “break them in”.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?  

Footwear recommendations are typically based on arch height and plantar shape.  Example:  high/normal arch= neutral shoe, moderate arch drop=stability shoe, severe arch drop=motion control shoe.    This process is utilized to reduce injury risk by providing proper support/alignment as needed.  But does this approach work?

Let’s look at what the research studies show… A study was done by Knapik et al (2009) J Strength Cond Research which looked at US Army Basic Combat Training recruits.  1,530 recruits were given running shoes based on plantar shape and 1,532 recruits received a stability shoe.   The findings were that there was no difference of injury incidence between the 2 groups.  The study was repeated two more times, once with Marines and then again with the Air Force, both of which showed no significant difference between the 2 groups.   So what should the runner do?  

Let comfort dictate shoe selection!

Here is some other advice regarding footwear. If you are a heel striker, avoid shoes with a lateral (outside) flare at the heel and a large heel drop. If you are a midfoot/forefoot striker, avoid shoes with a lateral flare at the midfoot/forefoot. Lastly, the runner should always select the most colorful shoe to make you feel faster!  I hope this information helps and if you are dealing with an injury please contact your local physical therapist that specializes in treating the injured runner. 


John R. Thomas, PT, DPT, OCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Orthopedic Certified Specialist

Alex Goldenring