Which Shoe Should I Choose?
Whether you are running, lifting, biking, etc there’s a large market out there for shoes. It can be very overwhelming and while there is no “one size fits all” for each person or activity, read below to learn more about what to look for in a shoe for you.
Is the same shoe good for everyone?
The simple answer is, no. Number one priority is that the shoe you pick is comfortable! There are many different shoes and each person has different needs for their shoe. Knowing what you are looking for can help narrow down your search results and help you find the right choice.
How do you choose a shoe?
Within the shoe market there are many factors you could use to help decide on what is the best shoe for you. Is it the aesthetics of the shoe that draws you in? Are you looking for a shoe for a certain activity like running, lifting, agility? There is no one right answer to “which shoe is best?”, but let's break down some of the components of shoes to help make the best selection for you!
Components of a shoe
Most of us look for comfort, style, and support when we go to make a purchase. Let’s break down different components of a shoe and what they mean:
Support in a shoe typically refers to the arch support, but can also mean heel control or support at the back of the heel. It can also refer to the level of cushion a shoe provides. A shoe that is more of a “minimalist shoe” will have less cushion or support and mimic more of a “barefoot environment”. A stability shoe will provide a bit more cushion and can be a “neutral shoe” which does not have much arch support, or it can include medial arch support. The “motion control” shoes tend to provide more cushion and arch support attempting to limit excessive pronation (foot flat) during the walking or running gait.
The drop in a shoe refers to the difference in height from the heel to forefoot. This can vary in running shoes from 10-12mm to as low as 0-2 mm. There isn’t a specific drop that is best, it is whatever works best for you. Issues can arise when you are used to running in a particular drop height and then switch to a drastically different height (ex. Running in 11mm drop and switching shoes to a 2 mm drop). Your foot and ankle are used to the repetitive strains from a specific drop height and changing the drop without gradually introducing the new forces to your body can leave you at risk for Achilles’ pain, foot pain and or injury.
Intended use of shoe:
If running is the main use of your shoe, what type of running? Short distance, sprint work, long distance road running, trail running? Each different type of running may be served best by a specific shoe tailored to those specific activities.
For HIIT or boot camp type workouts, cross training shoes or shoes more cut out for agility work may be best. Certain running shoes can also translate into shoes for these types of workouts, as long as you are comfortable and getting the appropriate support.
Lifting shoes tend to have a stiffer and elevated heel to allow for a more stable and deeper squat technique. They also have a higher boot like heel for more support and a wider toe box for toe splay. These shoes are designed for heavy weightlifting and made for more stability. They would not be a good option for running or agility work.
When to get new shoes?
Shoes break down overtime and lose their supportive properties. It is important to replace your shoes as they break down with time or with certain mileage or volume thresholds in order to avoid strain or injury to foot, ankle, knee etc.
A general guideline to replacing shoes is every 4-6 months or if running every 300-500 miles on shoes. Sometimes it can be hard to track time and miles on your shoes, so being aware of wearing down on the treads or padding in the shoe and those may be indicators that it is time to look for a new pair.
Overall make sure your shoe choice is comfortable for you during whatever activity you are performing. Comfortable shoes are the best type, and that may look different for each person!