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Shoe 101

Posted on June 05 2019

Shoe 101

 

If you’re new to running or you’re considering replacing your current walking/running or everyday shoes, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the vast array of options available. We wanted to put together a short guide on some of the most common definitions and offer up some examples of shoes that fall into each category and highlight why they may be right for you.


Proper Shoe Fit

A proper fit is everything in a running shoe. The tricky part is, proper fit will vary slightly from person to person and by activity. For those buying online, or for anyone who wants to measure themselves to help determine this; we’ve got a handy guide (here). With that said, here’s a couple of general recommendations that apply in most situations.

Embrace the Space!

In most cases, running shoes should be fitted looser than you’d expect. Many other sports require tight fitting footwear, so it can feel a little disconcerting at first if you’re not used to the sensation of room around your toes. That extra space is crucial though, as it allows your foot to go through its proper range of motion unimpeded and reduces the chance of long-term foot health/injury issues.

As a rough guide, most people generally require a shoe fitted between a half and full size larger than their measured foot size. There are exceptions and our expert shoe fitters can help advise you if you’re unsure.

Secure, but not too snug.

Laces should be secure, but not so tight that the top of your foot is compressed or squeezed. Blood flow is crucial to staying comfortable. Your laces should keep you in the shoe but should never be restrictive.

A bit of heel lift is okay.

When shoes are brand new, its not unusual to feel a little lift in the heel. In most cases this is due to the shoe needing to adjust to the flex pattern of your foot. Usually this quickly remedies itself as you run/walk in the shoe. If you are unsure and experiencing some heel slip one of our experienced fitters can help advise you.

 

Types of Shoes


Motion Control Shoes

Motion Control is a term that some manufacturers use to describe the most stable of their shoes. They generally feature some kind of roll-bar or stability support, and usually feature a fairly firm sole that doesn’t bend or flex easily. These are a good option for walkers/runners and/or daily users that require maximum stability. These shoes often accommodate an orthotic or supportive insole quite easily.


Stability Shoes

Stability Shoes are a great option for runners or walkers that tend to over-pronate. In most cases they have denser material on the medial side of the heel that prevents the rear of the foot from rolling in too much.

Shop Womens Stability Shoes

Shop Mens Stability Shoes


Neutral Shoes

Neutral shoes represent our largest category of footwear. It’s a broad category which includes everything from soft cushioned shoes to minimal barefoot-type shoes. Levels of stability may vary in neutral shoes depending on a variety of factors, sometimes being just as “stable” as a stability shoe. Naturally, many people will find something comfortable in a neutral shoe. Neutral shoes accommodate most common foot types. They suitable for neutral runners and even those with mild pronation and/or supination. Within this category there are shoes suitable for walkers, runners, gym goers or the everyday casual user.

Shop Womens Neutral Shoes

Shop Mens Neutral Shoes


Walking Shoes

Walking shoes can be any type of shoe that fits appropriately, however some shoes are better suited to the task of day-to-day wear than others. True walking shoes tend to be built with a little more durability in mind. They generally feature heavier duty materials and often feel very supportive and stable.

Shop Womens Walking Shoes

Shop Mens Walking Shoes


Trail Shoes

Trail shoes are the off-road tires of the shoe world. They tend to have a more aggressive tread that allows for more grip and stability in various types of terrain. Generally speaking they offer a neutral level of support and feature fairly rugged hard-wearing materials that allow the shoe to perform regardless of the weather or terrain. Many of our customers consider a trail shoe as an every day ‘walking’ shoe due to their versatility.

Shop Womens Trail Shoes

Shop Mens Trail Shoes


Racing Flats

Racing flats are generally very lightweight shoes with a real focus on performance. They often have minimal cushioning to ensure a ground feel that is very ‘connected’. Shoes in this category feel fast. Many runners choose a racing flat as their race-day shoe while doing the bulk of their training in a lightweight trainer or neutral shoe. The majority of flats tend to offer neutral support but there are some that share the characteristics of a stability shoes.

Shop Womens Race Flats

Shop Mens Race Flats


Lightweight Trainers/Racers

Lightweight trainers are shoes that fall somewhere between a neutral shoe and racing flat. They are generally more durable than a racing flat but feature many of the same properties. Many runners and gym goers successfully use lightweight trainers as their go-to shoe, whether training or racing. There are also a handful of lightweight shoes that share the characteristics of stability shoes.

Shop Womens Lightweight Shoes

Shop Mens Lightweight Shoes

 

What is Drop?

Drop, Offset, Heel/Toe differential all refer to the same thing. That is, the difference in millimetres between the height of your heel (heel stack) vs the height of your forefoot (forefoot stack) when standing in the shoe. Most shoes typically have somewhere between 0mm-12mm of drop.

Runners that aggressively heel strike when they run or runners with tight calves/achilles would probably be best suited to a higher drop (10mm-12mm) shoe. Similarly, runners recovering from achilles tendonitis or other lower leg/ankle injuries often prefer a higher drop shoe.

Runners who more naturally run towards a mid-foot/forefoot strike can usually accommodate a much lower drop (0mm-6mm). Generally speaking, the lower the drop, the more ankle mobility and achilles/calf flexibility is needed.

When considering drop, try to avoid big changes to what you are used to (if indeed you are comfortable and injury free). Small incremental changes (+/- 2mm) are more sensible than big changes all at once. For anyone that is unsure, it’s a fairly safe bet to decide on a shoe somewhere between the 8mm-10mm range, as this would be closest to more traditional, casual or dress footwear.

In the broadest of terms, low-drop (0-8mm) shoes are generally a little more performance orientated, while high-drop (8-12+mm) shoes will generally offer more comfort/protection (although this is subjective).

 

So how do you decide on a shoe?

The short answer is to come see us and let our professional shoe fitters do their thing. We have an all-star team of experts who are passionate about putting the right shoes on people’s feet. They will be more than happy to help you decide on which shoe is right for you.

We appreciate that it’s not always possible to visit us in store, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help you. Facebook Messenger, email or giving us a call are all great ways to get in touch. Our staff will be happy to discuss the options available to you.

Whether you’re walking, running or hitting the gym; if you’re feet hurt because you’re in the wrong shoes, it’s not much fun. All the shoes we sell are great shoes, but only if they fit and are suitable for the activity you’re doing.

If you’re buying online and don’t have the option to try on a selection of shoes, take a look at our fit guide (here). Measure your feet then keep it simple; choose a shoe that doesn’t deviate too much from what you’re normally comfortable with. If you’re completely unsure, a neutral shoe with 8-12mm of drop would be a good place to start for most people.