How to Choose the Right Running Shoes, According to Experts

We spoke with podiatrists to determine which running shoes are best for different types of feet.

Design by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist
Design by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist
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Whether you’re training for a 10k or just going for an occasional jog, the type of running shoes you wear is going to make a difference. With all the options available out there, picking the right pair can be overwhelming. We know it’s tempting to just pick a cool style, but the best running shoes for your feet and body are less about how they look and more about how they make you feel. To help you find the best running shoes for you, we asked podiatrists to share the best options out there and how to determine which one is the right fit for you, depending on your foot type.

If you have no clue about what foot type you have, there are many ways to find out. “One way to determine foot type at home is by stepping into baby or foot powder and walking across a piece of dark construction paper,” says Nelya Lobkova, a board-certified surgical podiatrist and founder of Step Up Footcare. “The outline of the bottom of the foot will have a thin outline on a higher arch, whereas a wider footprint suggests a flat foot type.” Another trick comes from Bradley Schaeffer, a board-certified foot surgeon and owner of SOLE Podiatry NYC, who recommends his patients to step out of a pool or bathtub and take a look at their footprint.

Regardless of your foot type, doctors say it’s important to get the proper shoe size. “A running shoe that is too big can cause damage to toes, and a running shoe that is too small often causes damage to the toenails,” says Lobkova. She also recommends getting a gait analysis to determine which category of running shoes apply to you (neutral, stability, or motion). With these tips in mind, check out both experts’ running shoe recommendations for every foot type below.

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For flat feet

Stability running shoes and walking shoes are the best options for people with flat feet. “These shoes are for people who pronate for longer than they should be during the normal walking cycle, which are those with flat feet,” says Lobkova. “The midfoot stability helps with normal toe-off gait which is compromised with flat foot biomechanics.” To determine if a shoe is a stability shoe, she suggests trying to bend it at the midpoint. The more difficult to bend, the more stable the shoe is.

On the other hand, Schaeffer suggests adding an insole. “I feel like many running shoes do not have the best arch support, so it is easy to replace them with something more effective, whether a Dr. Scholl’s type or custom orthotic,” he says.

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For high arches

“For people with high arches, I recommend neutral running and walking shoes with a heel drop or heel-to-toe gradient of 10mm-13mm,” says Lobkova. “A high-arched foot generally requires a shoe with at least slight heel elevation (higher heel drop) and cushioning under the toes to dissipate pressure under the ball of the foot.” She recommends the Asics Gel-Nimbus 24, Hoka Clifton 8, and Brooks Ghost 14.

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For neutral feet

If you have a neutral foot type, you’re one of the lucky ones since this is what podiatrists try to achieve with their patients. “A neutral foot position stabilizes every step that you take and therefore decreases the pressure from your feet to your knees, to your hips, and to your back,” says Schaeffer.

Lobkova recommends neutral running and walking shoes with a heel drop or heel-to-toe gradient of 4-8mm. “These shoes are for people who do not over- or under-pronate during the normal walking cycle,” she says. Most shoe brands can accommodate a neutral foot type, but both Schaeffer and Lobkova agree that Brooks, Asics, and Hoka shoes are on the top of their list.

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