The 8 Best Running Shoes of 2021 and What to Know Before You Buy

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Asics GEL Kayano 27
Asics GT-2000 10
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2
Hoka Clifton 8
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38
Salomon Predict Soc
Adidas Adizero Boston 9
Asics' GEL-CUMULUS 23
To find the best running shoes for you, consider your pronation type, foot shape and more.

Buying new running sneakers is a little like buying a new car. There are hundreds of types and styles at different price points, making your hunt both exciting and overwhelming.

But don't just head to your local running shop and randomly choose a shoe based on color or design. (Don't worry, we've all done it.)

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Instead, use this guide to help you know what to look for in each type of shoe. You'll also find the eight best running shoes for flat feet, shin splits, overpronation and more.

Manufacturers typically market shoes according to gender, so we have listed both women's and men's picks below. However, the main difference between most men's and women's shoes lies in the shoe width and size. In some cases, men's shoes are built to support greater weights. So people with bigger bodies may want to opt for men's versions, whereas people with smaller bodies may prefer women's versions.

1. Best for Plantar Fasciitis: Asics GEL Kayano 27

A common cause of heel pain, plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. There are two types of pain associated with plantar fasciitis — pain with push off and pain with landing, says David Reavy, PT, owner of React Physical Therapy in Chicago.

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If you have pain with push off, a shoe that helps you move with your entire foot is key, he says. Or if you have pain with landing, a shoe with more cushion is likely what you need. Either way, this shoe has you covered.

Buy it:Asics.com (men); Asics.com (women); ​Price:​ $119.95

2. Best for Flat Feet: Asics GT-2000 10

When buying running shoes for flat feet, your first priority is making sure the heel isn't elevated and has little to no toe spring, according to Caleb Backe, CPT, a certified personal trainer at for Maple Holistics.

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"You should be able to recognize a shoe that's fit for flat feet by the wide, chunky heel, as well as the stiffer sole," he says.

One of the best Asics running shoes, the GT-2000 offers a wide and high toe box, allowing your foot to spread naturally as you step, while still offering plenty of stability.

Buy it:Asics.com (men's); Asics.com (women's); ​Price:​ $100

3. Best for Overpronation: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21

Overpronation happens when your foot rolls inward too much when you walk or run.. If you have flat feet, you most likely overpronate, which can lead to knee pain, Backe says. (There's more on figuring out if you overpronate below.)

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"Extra support will help you achieve a more natural foot strike and therefore will decrease knee pain," he says.

The Brooks Adrenaline has GuideRails, a support system similar to bumpers in bowling alley (imagine your foot as the bowling ball). They kick in when you need them to keep your feet in place and stay out of the way when you don't.

Buy it:Brooks.com (men's); Brooks.com (women's); ​Price:​ $130

4. Best for Underpronation: Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2

Underpronated (aka supinated) feet tend to roll toward their pinkies. If that sounds familiar (there's more info on how to find out your pronation type below), you need shoes with plenty of arch support to prevent injury, according to physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning coach Melissa Garcia, DPT, CSCS.A supinated foot also needs all the shock-absorption it can get to protect the knees.

One of the best Nike running shoes for underpronation is the React Infinity shoe, she says. The shoe's foam provides plenty of shock-absorbing cushion, making it a great choice for running on concrete. Plus, the snug fit and supportive middle offers the arch support supinated runners need.

Buy it:Nike.com (men's); Nike.com (women's); ​Price:​ $160

4. Best for Shin Splints: Hoka Clifton 8

Shin splints often result from running on hard surfaces like concrete, according to Garcia. To help prevent shin splits, wearing a cushioned shoe with a low heel-to-toe drop is the main priority. A low drop keeps your foot even instead of angled, putting less pressure on your shin.

Thanks to its small drop, Hoka's Clifton shoe is the way to go for anyone experiencing achy or sore shins. "The Clifton is a very cushioned shoe, almost like running on clouds," she says.

Buy it:Hoka.com (men's); Hoka.com (women's); ​Price:​ $130

5. Best for Kids: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38

Buying kicks for kids is never a walk in the park. "Kids can be picky," Garcia says. But when it comes to finding a good pair for a little one, comfort and fit are the most important factors to consider.

Nike's Pegasus shoe has supportive cushion, helping keep children's feet and ankles nice and protected. But it's also breathable and durable, making it ideal for gym class or the playground.

Buy it:Nike.com; ​Price:​ $95

6. Best for Bad Knees: Salomon Predict Soc

"For serious knee pain, you should first defer to a professional opinion from a doctor," says Braden Moorhead, a senior buyer at Zappos.com. For runners with knee pain, it's important to look for shoes with plenty of cushion, which will offer a softer ride and may help ease pain.

Salomon's Predict Soc offers maximum cushioning and stability, making it one of the best shoes for running on concrete. It also has grooves on the sole's tread to enhance flexibility and give your foot a better feel of the ground.

Buy it:Salomon.com (men's); Salomon.com (women's); ​Price:​ $130

7. Best for Women: Adidas Adizero Boston 9

The top running shoes for women are flexible and allow for full-foot function. "Can you bend the shoe toe to heel?" asks Jessica Marie Rose Leggio, conditioning expert at RunPainFreeNow.com.

With these, you can. One of the best Adidas running shoes, the Adizero Boston shoes are built to give women speed and distance. They offer a lightweight feel with a boost cushion in the midsole, guaranteeing a supportive run.

Buy it:Adidas.com;​ Price: ​$120

8. Best for Men: Asics' GEL-CUMULUS 23

Shoes aren't generally gender-specific. But considering the average man weighs more and puts more force into their shoes (and joints) than women do, the best running shoes for men are supportive and well-cushioned.

Asics' GEL-CUMULUS runners are designed with the exact amount of cushion men might need during their run. Plus, this shoe is built with a durable mesh fabric that stays in tact mile after mile.

Buy it:Asics.com; ​Price: ​$120

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5 Tips to Find Your Perfect Running Sneakers

1. Look at the Shoe Shape

It may sound self-explanatory, but you want a pair of running sneakers that best fits your foot shape, Garcia says.

"I recently tried several pairs of highly recommended shoes by friends and colleagues however my feet were in a lot of pain," she says. "Each person's individual foot structure is unique and the support that the foot needs with vary from person to person."

Beyond just the length and width, that includes your arch shape. Running in shoes that don't offer enough arch support for you can put you at higher risk of injury.

To find your arch height, step on a piece of paper with a wet foot. If the middle part of your foot is barely visible or completely gone, you have a high arch. A full footprint means you have flatter feet.

A stable shoe with arch support is best for higher arches. Cushioned shoes are best for flatter feet.

2. Analyze Your Ankles

As mentioned above, some running sneakers are made for overpronation (ankles collapsing outward) or supination (ankles collapsing inward). Buying the best pair of shoes for your ankles can help minimize your risk of injury while running, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Most running specialty stores offer a free analysis to see whether you fall into either of these categories. But you can also do your own at home. Place your phone on the floor and record yourself walk to and away from the screen. Then, look closely at the video to see which direction your ankles go.

3. Find Your Ideal Cushion Level

Your best cushion depends on your running style and personal preference, according to Garcia. Long-distance runners often prefer a higher cushioned shoe. These generally last longer and provide their joints with the shock absorption they need to pound the pavement.

If you're running on trails, you may want a less chunky, agile and lightweight shoe, Garcia says.

4. Know Your Perfect Drop Level

Most athletic shoes have a heel-to-toe drop, meaning the heel of the shoe is more cushioned and sits higher than the toes. Generally, these drops can range from 0 millimeters (also known as a zero drop) to 8 millimeters or more.

Finding the perfect heel drop isn't ​too​ important for the everyday runner, but it can make your shoe feel more or less comfortable, depending on the way you strike the ground.

People who have shin splits can usually benefit from a zero-drop shoe.

5. Prioritize Ventilation

Most runners will probably agree sweaty feet are no walk in the park (pun intended). So always look for shoes that have a well-ventilated, secure mesh fabric, Garcia says. This will help reduce your risk of blisters, athlete's foot and general stink.

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