How can you find your perfect running shoe?
Finding the perfect running shoe that meets your specific needs and wants is not always the easiest task. With all of the options out there, choosing the perfect running shoe can be daunting. We created a cheat sheet so that you can be in the know with all of the running shoe lingo before going into your nearest Fit2Run!
Here are some running shoe terms you should know:
Upper– The upper is essentially the top part of the shoe. The upper usually consists of engineered mesh or other fabrics that vary in firmness and style depending on the shoe.
Insole– The insole is the insert inside the shoe that provides an extra level of cushioning. Running shoes come with a basic insole, but custom orthotic insoles from brands like Aetrex ensure that your shoes are perfect for what your feet need.
Outsole– The outsole is the bottom of the shoe. The part is the shoe responsible for making contact with the ground and remaining durable run after run. Usually made of rubber, the outsole’s specific characteristics vary among brands and styles.
Midsole– The midsole is the layer sandwiched between the upper and the outsole of your shoe. This midsole is typically made from various types of foam depending on the cushioning level the shoe presents. Brands create and use their own foam technologies to create unique rides.
Heel Drop– Heel drop is essentially the thickness of the cushioning from the heel to the toe of the shoe. The drop is the difference between the height of the shoe heel and the height of the toe of the shoe. This is important because if you are a heel striker, meaning you tend to hit the ground with your heel first, a higher heel drop is more comfortable for the runner. A lower heel drop allows for more midsole and forefoot striking, meaning the runner hits the ground either in the mid of their foot or towards their toes at initial contact. For reference, an average running shoe’s heel drop is 10mm or higher.
Gusseted tongue– In general, the tongue of a shoe is the part that protects your foot from the laces. A gusseted tongue is different in that it is connected on both sides to the upper of the shoe. Being connected to the shoe help keeps out dirt and debris and creates a more form-fitting feel. The gusseted tongue is becoming more common in running shoes for its benefits and comfort to runners.
Now that we got some of the running shoe lingo down, it is time to go into your nearest Fit2Run and speak with a Fit Expert to find your perfect running shoe! The Fit2Run Fit Process consists of 3 distinct steps.
STEP #1: FOOT SCAN
Every runner needs orthotics to insert in your shoes to create a custom feel. All of our Fit2Run store locations have a 3D Aetrex foot scanner. The Albert scanner from Aetrex provides the most advanced foot scanning technology and helps our Fit Experts recommend the best footwear and orthotics for your foot and gait, after a complete personalized fitting. An orthotic insert helps bring the ground to your foot and provide additional support and cushion you can’t get in a shoe alone. Albert is equipped with the most advanced foot scanning technology including numerous cameras that provide a full image of your feet from all angles. It also shows important factors that can affect your running like pain points, pressure variations, arch height, and more.
Once the scan is complete and analyzed our Fit Experts will be able to recommend a great orthotic insert and footwear combination to follow on to analyze your individual gait.
STEP #2: BRANNOCK DEVICE
The next step in the Fit Process is the measuring of the foot. The Brannock device or the metal thing that has a lever an associate slides up and down to find the size of your foot is the standard measuring tool in the footwear industry. This tool not only measures the size of your foot but also the width and arch height of the foot. This can determine what size running shoe you need and if you need an extended width option. The use of this device helps our Fit Experts determine exactly which size shoe you need to get that perfect fit.
First, the Fit Expert will position your bare foot on the device with your right foot in the right heel cup and ensure you are putting even weight on both feet to make sure the foot is elongated and stretched to its largest size. The Fit Expert will then press the big toe and measure the size associated with where the toe falls. This measurement will be the shoe size based on a heel to toe measurement.
Next, a Fit Expert will slide the pointer on the outside of the device to meet with the ball of your foot to read the measurement. This measurement gives a shoe size based on arch measurement.
After these measurements are attained, a Fit Expert will compare the heel to toe measurement with the arch measurement and generally will choose the larger size reading if they are different. It is important to use both measurements so that an perfect fit can be achieved.
Lastly, after the correct size is determined, a Fit Expert will slide the width bar on the device and go to the determined shoe size and then the associated width. If the foot is between widths, the associate will usually go with a wider width for a wide foot or narrower width for a narrow foot.
STEP #3: GAIT ANALYSIS
At Fit2Run, we use a videotaped gait analysis to determine the most appropriate shoe for specific foot types and styles of running or walking. Although many factors such as color, shape, weight, cushioning and price can influence your selection of a running or walking shoe, we believe that finding the right shoe starts with the foot! Keep in mind that the running shoe serves as a structural and functional extension of the foot. Chosen correctly, it can improve your running. Chosen improperly, it can amplify biomechanical and functional flaws thereby increasing your risk of injury.
When fitting shoes, we use a detailed step-by-step process that will provide you with helpful information in choosing the correct shoe. We first discuss your particular needs by asking you questions about your walking or running, training goals, predominant running surface, mileage and history of injury. If you bring in your old shoes, we will examine the wear pattern and use that information in the selection process.
We will determine your foot type by assessing the structure of the foot including shape, width, volume and arch height. We then analyze the gait cycle that is unique to each runner by observing the biomechanics of the foot in motion. Our Fit Experts will select a variety of styles and brands of shoes for you to try by matching your foot characteristics and biomechanical needs to the proper category of shoes.
Finally, we let you test the shoes on our in-house treadmill where we can analyze your running gait in various shoes using our video analysis system. We can give you a frame-by-frame analysis which is useful in helping you to understand which shoes would work best to keep you running or walking happy and injury free.
after the FIT PROCESS
During and after the final step, the gait analysis, our Fit Experts will most likely use words like ”overpronation”,”underpronation”, “neutral”, and, “stability”. Let’s review some of these terms before moving forward:
Pronation– Pronation is how your foot rolls from heel to toe while running or walking.
Overpronation– Overpronation means that your foot rolls inwards as you walk or run. This means, the outer part of your heel hits the ground first and then the foot flattens drastically inward and downward. Overpronation can also be referred to as excessive flattening of your arch. This motion can cause strain on your arch and tendons causing injury down the line.
Underpronation(AKA Supination)- Underpronation is when the foot rolls outwards as you walk or run. This movement puts excess stress on the outside of the foot and pressure on the ankle and toes causing pain and sometimes serious injury.
Neutral– A neutral shoe is for the runner whose outside of the foot hits the ground first and rolls inward but not excessively. The majority of runners are neutral runners and thus need neutral running shoes.
Stability– A stability shoe is made for runners who overpronate. It provides extra arch support through the midsole to the heel and is more firm than a neutral shoe.
Our Fit Experts will refer to these terms when determining what footwear you need. The foot scan and gait analysis will show whether you overpronate vs. underpronate and if you need neutral vs. stability footwear. From here, our experts will let you try on shoes and test them out to find your perfect running shoes! Although we always recommend stopping by your local Fit2Run to speak with a Fit Expert, if you know your foot type and are already an expert, here are a few of our top picks for any kind of runner!
TOP NEUTRAL PICKS BY BRAND
On- Cloudace and Cloudstratus
Top Stability Picks by Brand
Brooks- Glycerin GTS and Adrenaline GTS
New Balance- 860
Find your Fit
Finding the perfect running shoes doesn’t have to be difficult with the help of our Fit Experts! Stop by your nearest Fit2Run retail location and let our Fit Experts take you through our complimentary Fit Process. No matter what you need, Fit2Run has your perfect fit!