Buying shoes for your runs can be quite intimidating these days. The varieties are endless and all the brands promise ‘maximum comfort’. So how do you pick the right shoes?

We are going to get a bit technical about this, because the wrong pair of running shoes can be harmful and could even stop you from running. So to answer the question, yes, the type of shoes you choose, do matter! Your shoes can protect you from injuries such as stress fractures and tendonitis. There are two vital factors that come into play while choosing the right pair of shoes: body frame and running surface.

When you run, your feet absorb between 3-5 times your weight with each stride. So if you weigh a lot, you might want shoes with maximum cushioning to act as a buffer. Those who weigh less can opt for leaner shoes for better spring in your stride.

 The 23rd Jungfrau-Marathon will be held on September 12 this year
Pick shoes according to the terrain (Image: Jungfrau Marathon)

The bigger factor in determining which shoe to pick is the running surface. On some surfaces such as on a beach, you can actually go barefoot, but do make it a point to check whether any sharp objects (broken seashells, for example) may end up hurting your feet. You may think the same pair can be worn for road running and trail or park running, but it could end up harming you.

For hard surfaces such as paved roads, jogging tracks and treadmills, pick shoes that are light and flexible. These will conform to the shape of your feet, and give you better spring while running. Cushions on the bottom will provide extra comfort on the hard surface, while also increasing stability. Shoe makers usually add materials such as air pockets or gels, to the heel and forefoot areas to enhance the cushioning of the shoe. Another benefit of these kinds of shoes is the feeling of running on a softer surface.

On jogging tracks with loose topsoil, or when trail-running, it’s better to go with tougher shoes with rugged outsoles. Here, the surface could be skiddish and these rugged shoes can help you grip it better. They will also add extra padding to the underfoot area. If you prefer the feeling of running close to the surface, you can go for minimalist shoes, which literally fit your feet like a pair of gloves.

Ultimately, the right fit is determined by the runner, and like they say – If the shoe fits, wear it!

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