Running and exercising in the wrong shoes can be a recipe for disaster, especially if you plan on running distance or on uneven terrain. A poor choice in footwear can cause foot pain, back pain, Achilles tendinitis, runner’s knee, and other conditions. Before you choose your shoes, you’ll need to take into account the terrain you run on, your running style, and your personal tastes. Then you’ll be ready to purchase and take your first steps in your new running shoes, and when you do, you won’t regret the time you spent.

So how do you go about finding that perfect shoe? We have outlined 6 simple steps for you to follow.

Step 1: Understand Pronation

Pronation is the rolling of the foot from heel to toe through the foot strike. A proper or neutral foot strike pattern is initially striking with the outside of the heel and moving up to the ball of your foot evenly. This is how your foot reduces the stress of impact.

Overpronation is what it is called when you roll too much to the inside of your foot during your foot strike cycle. This normally happens when you have a low arch or flat foot.

Underpronation (supination) is when your foot rolls too much to the outside. This typically happens if you have a high arch.

Step 2: Determine Your Foot Type

In order to determine your foot type, the easiest way is to check your arch height by taking the “wet test”

To do this, wet both feet and stand on a paper bag for about 10 seconds. Then step off of the bag and observe the imprint your foot made on the bag.

you have a normal arch if:
There is a distinct curve along the inside of your foot with a band a little less than half the width of your foot connecting the heel and toe.

you have a low arch if:
The imprint shows most of your foot and there is not much of a curve along the inside of your foot.

You have a high arch if:
There is a very noticeable curve along the inside of your foot and a very thin band connecting your heel and toe. If you have a really high arch, you may not even see anything connecting the heel and toe.
Step 3: A simple test to Determine Your foot type

There are a few tests commonly used to determine which kind of runner you are and, therefore, which kind of running shoe you should use.

One of these tests is called the Wet Feet Test and it is very simple to do and to understand. The basis of this test is that the wet footstep you leave on the floor while walking is a good indicator on how your foot absorbs the shock of the impact with the floor.

Simply wet your feet and walk over a flat surface, either the floor or a sheet of paper. Now, compare the impression you leave with the three figures here below:

Whatever your kind of foot is, sport companies over the years have developed footwear technologies that can help. Almost all of them offer different lines of footwear, each one targeting only one of these foot types.

Sports industry has come to a common way to classify this different kind of footwear.

Step 4: Go to Your Local Running Store

Now that you have an idea of what type of shoe you are looking for, it is time to hit your local running store! Here are some tips that will make your trip a little easier..

1. Take your old shoes to show the salesperson
2. Wear or ask about buying the right kind of socks to run in (Good socks make all the difference)
3. Do Not just buy the latest and greatest shoe. Find what fits YOU the best.
4. Have the salesperson measure BOTH feet. One foot is almost always slightly bigger. You want to fit the bigger foot so you don’t lose toenails on your run.

Before you even try on any shoes, the salesperson should ask you, at minimum, the following questions.

a) how long have you been running?
b) What have you run in in the past? did you like them?
c) Where do you do most of your running?
d) How many miles a week would you say you average?
e) Are you aware of any foot problems (i.e. overpronation, flat feet, high arch, etc)

Based on your answers to these questions, the salesperson will be able to direct you to a few models of shoes that fit your specific needs

Step 5: Try on and Ensure Proper Fit

Trying on the shoes is the last step. Different companies use different technologies to achieve the same goal, so try on a few different pair to compare the feel.

When trying on the shoes there are a few things to look for.

1. Make sure you have enough room in the toe. A good general rule is to have about a thumbs width between the top of your toe and the end of the shoe.

2. Make sure there is enough room in the width. You want the shoe tight enough that your foot is not sloppy in it, but you want enough room for your foot to spread out and allow for swelling when you run.

3. Run on a treadmill or do a few laps around the store to make sure there are no hot spots or slipping in the heel.

If you follow these simple steps when looking for a new running shoe, not only will you avoid an overwhelming shopping experience, but you will have a shoe that fits your specific needs and will make running that much more enjoyable!