Disclaimer First allow us to say that we do not want to give you a misleading headline, such as “what is the best running shoe.”
No, the truth is that for different people different running shoes are best suited for them. This is because the human foot comes in various shapes and sizes. Also keep in mind that this article is based on running. The type of shoes we’re talking about are RUNNING shoes. These aren’t necessarily the types of shoes you need to shred up the court in your favorite sport.
Also, certain shoes may not be for everyone due to experience levels in running.
The 2 Types of Running Shoes There are the traditional ankle-top shoes that are widely considered the modern standard. Then you have a fairly recent revolutionary concept known as the barefoot shoe or minimalist shoe. These barefoot shoes adhere to the "less is more" philosophy. These barefoot shoes consist of noticeably less material than their regular counterparts.
In fact one could even say that there are two types of barefoot shoe; one having a rounded end around the toes and the other (gorilla feet) having tiny pockets for your toes to fit inside.
But these minimalist shoes may not be suited for beginners or people who have been off the trail for a while and are planning to get back out there. We’ll explain this later.
We will first take a look at the traditional running shoes and determine which ones are best suited for you. Then we will look at the barefoot shoes. This particular article is not to be intended as a ‘versus’ article. It is intended to provide you with very useful information so that you can get the most out of your runs!
Traditional Running Shoes When you go to buy a brand new shoe, you immediately look for a size that fits you. But this is where people go wrong, right from the start. When you run, your feet swell. So you need a shoe that is at least one size larger than what you normally wear. This can also help you avoid blisters, because now the shoe won’t be so tight around your foot!
There are three different types of foot arches; medium, low and high.
Normal Arch The medium arch is considered to be normal and is the most common foot type. When the arch collapses inward the natural arch or “natural pronation” absorbs shock. People with this type of foot can wear pretty much any shoe out there. You can go with a neutral-cushioned shoe.
Flat Arch A flat arch is the second most common type of foot arch. The flat arch can lead to what doctor’s call overpronation; basically, when your foot strikes the ground, the arch collapses inward too much. There is more motion happening inside the foot than is needed (although you cannot really help this, due to the low arch) and this can put you at risk for injuries. If you have a flat arched foot, then you want to buy shoes that are much firmer and possess stronger midsoles. The goal is to control the motion and your foot needs a little less motion.
High Arch The high arch is the least common type of arch. In your footprint you will see just the ball and heel of your foot with a thin line on the edge barely connecting them. Opposite of the flat arch, high arches result in underpronation or supination. If you have this type of arch you may suffer from too much shock that can travel up your legs and into the spine. It can be quite annoying. To help deal with this, look for shoes that have a softer midsole that help promote more motion. This extra motion will help absorb more shock, rather than it traveling up to your spine.
From this we can determine that shoe stiffness and midsole strength make a difference.
Barefoot Shoe You know you’ve seen them; the gorilla feet, the ‘toe-shoes’.
There are people out there (you may be one of them) who are full on believers in the cult that is barefoot shoes. The arguments are highly valid. Over millions of years the human foot evolved into what it is today; specifically engineered for running, along with the rest of the human body. The human foot consists of 33 joints, 26 bones and 20 muscles with thousands upon thousands of nerve endings. Traditional running shoes mask the sensory perceptive, causing us to lose sensation in the foot and causes us to put more stress on the foot with each strike.
Barefoot shoes are meant to allow the foot to maintain a greater amount of natural motion, therefore reducing strain on both the foot and legs.