The first rule of the road:
There is no “best” running shoe – each person must find a shoe to fit their individual requirements. Each of us has a uniquely individual running action (in technical parlance this is called your “gait”). Each of us has a unique foot type and size. These factors will determine the fit, cushioning and stability of the shoe which you require for your best performance and injury-free running.
Other very important factors to take into account are durability and price. How do you determine your gait?
Firstly, look at your old running shoes. If the upper sole shows excessive wear towards the inside, you will be an “over pronator”. Excessive wear on the outside of the sole or upper, suggests that you are an “under pronator”. If you are one of those fortunate people who wears out a shoe evenly, then you have a neutral gait, and have a much wider range of shoes available to you.
The single greatest cause of injury is lack of stability in a shoe. This stability factor is more important than cushioning. To ensure stability, make sure the shoe has a strong and substantial heel counter. This is the area which cups your heel at the back of the shoe.
If you are an over pronator or under pronator and the shoe that you like does not have a strong heel counter, don’t buy it. In addition, over pronators may find assistance with a straight-laced shoe, whereas under pronators get better value from a curved-laced shoe. Cushioning reduces the force your body absorbs with each step. Midsoles composed of compression moulded EVA, polyurethane, or a combination of the two are probably the best for cushioning, although a compression moulded midsole would cost a little more than a cut EVA midsole. Durability is usually best with the top-brand names. They have only become top-brand names because the user has obtained value for money from them.
And, of course, make sure the shoe fits properly. Your feet expand up to half a size when you run, so don’t buy a shoe that is tight in the store. And don’t forget to try the shoes on in the store in the type of sock which you plan to run in. Some of the technology used above may confuse you, but if you go to a professional sports store, they understand it all precisely and would be delighted to help you with your selection.