The 4 years that I owned and worked at Grand Bluff Running in La Crosse were some of the best years I could have asked for. Being able to contribute to the growth of the La Crosse running community was an incredible privilege and I met so many wonderful people along the way. In addition to all of this, I learned so much along the way about shoes: how they’re put together, what shoes can fix and what their limitations are and how to fit each person who walked in with the best shoe for them.
Today we'll dive into the anatomy of a running shoe, and how different shoes fit, feel, and respond to each foot strike.
Neutral Vs. Stability:
You've likely heard these expressions walking around your local running store. Essentially these are the two types of running shoes.
Neutral running shoes, make up the majority of the market, and are the most prevalent among the stock of your favorite specialty shoe store. These are suitable for most runners.
Stability running shoes make up around 25% of the market, and are designed to correct overpronation.
This brings us to our next term, overpronation. Overpronation is when the ankle rolls excessively inward with every foot strike. If left uncorrected, this can increase your risk of injury, especially in the lower leg or outer knee area.
Cushioning has exploded in recent years with the advent of brands like Hoka bursting onto the running scene. Generally speaking softer shoes lessen the blow of each stride and are thus more comfortable on longer/slower runs. Firmer shoes generally "respond" more with each stride, and provide more energy return on faster runs.
Think of heel-toe drop as the slope of your shoe. The majority of running shoes have more padding under the heel of the shoe, thus protecting runners from the impact when hitting their heel first on the ground. How much of a heel-toe drop you want comes down to personal preference. There are a variety of different options, ranging from 0mm or flat (think Altra) to 16mm (On Cloud).
If you have any specific questions regarding your running shoes, be sure to check out your local running store which is sure to be full of experts, or ask us in the comments!