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How to Choose the Right Running Shoe

  • author name Christopher Dupkanick, DPT, OCS

Avid runners always seem to be searching for the next best running sneaker. Those new to running often ask about the best way to start. Picking the right shoe is a common place to begin. With so many choices and conflicting opinions, how do you go about doing this?

3 Steps to Choosing the Best Running Shoe

1. Go to the pros

First, have your foot properly fitted by a knowledgeable salesperson at a shoe store. Different brands of shoes often fit differently, and are better suited for a specific foot type (wide vs. narrow toe box, high arch vs. low arch, etc.). Working with someone who has experience and expertise can set you on the right track.

Some shoe stores will be able to analyze your gait pattern on a treadmill or with a video recording, which could also help determine your gait pattern.

2. Know your arch type

Running sneakers are often organized into categories of support, starting with neutral shoes and progressing in support to stability and motion control. Your arch type helps dictate the level of support you need. Even without a video analysis, you can test yourself by walking barefoot through a puddle and then looking at your footprint for the next few steps.

3. Take a test drive

Next, find several options that fit your arch type. Sneakers should be comfortable as soon as you put them on. The old adage, “It will feel better after I break them in,” doesn’t always work.

If possible, try running in the sneakers first before purchasing. Ask the store about their return policy.

When to Switch Out with a New Pair

Once you find a running shoe that works well for you, it can be worthwhile to buy several pairs. It’s a good idea to begin using a new pair every 6-9 months, 400-500 miles, or if pain develops. If you can bend your shoe in half, it’s probably lost too much support.

*A footnote about barefoot running

Barefoot running was popular a few years ago with claims that this style of running reduced injury risk. However, recent research has shown this is not necessarily true. While barefoot running does appear to promote a more efficient gait pattern, there is little evidence that it reduces running injuries.

author name

Christopher Dupkanick, DPT, OCS

Christopher Dupkanick, DPT, OCS, is a physical therapist at Lancaster General Health Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. A graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, Chris received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy at SUNY Upstate Medical University. He enjoys working with runners and athletes, and is an avid endurance athlete.

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About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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