When it comes to running shoes, the options can be overwhelming. How do you choose the best running shoe for your foot type? Instead of sticking with the same shoes you've been wearing for years, consider what type of shoe fits the terrain you're running and any foot or gait issues you have.
For example, some people run with their weight on the outside of the foot (supination), others have flat feet and still others have high arches. Personal preferences come into play, too, with wide toe boxes, shoes that offer extra cushion and ones that won't break the bank.
Before heading to your local running shop and randomly choosing a shoe based on color or design (don't worry, we've all done it), use this guide to help you know what to look for in each type of running shoe.
1. Best Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis: Asics GEL Kayano 27
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes and is a common cause of heel pain. There are two types of pain associated with plantar fasciitis — pain with push off and pain with landing, David Reavy, Chicago-based physical therapist and owner of BeReact.com, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
If you have pain with push off, a shoe that helps you push off 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. Try Asics GEL Kayano 27, which resists compression and reinforces a natural line of movement.
Buy it: Asics.com; Price: $160
2. Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet: Asics GT-2000 8
The first thing to consider when purchasing running shoes for flat feet is to make sure the shoe has no heel elevation and little to no toe spring, Caleb Backe, personal trainer and health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
"You're also going to want to ensure that the toe box isn't tapered. 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. Look for running shoes that control motion."
The Asics GT-2000 8 offers a wide and high toe box, allowing the foot to spread naturally at push off, while still offering plenty of stability.
Buy it: Asics.com; Price: $89.95
3. Best Running Shoes for Overpronation: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20
Overpronation occurs when a runner's foot rolls inward too much. If you have flat feet, you most likely overpronate, which can lead to knee pain, Backe says. "Extra support will help you achieve a more natural foot strike and therefore will decrease knee pain."
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 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 and stay out of the way when you don't.
Buy it: BrooksRunning.com; Price: $109.95
4. Best Running Shoes for Supination: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10
For those that tend to supinate when they run (rolling onto the outer edge of the foot), it's important to find a neutral shoe that won't interfere with your stride and push your foot out even further, says Claire Wood, New Balance's head of performance footwear. If that sounds like you, check out the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10 with neutral cushioning.
Buy it: NewBalance.com; Price: $149.99
5. Best Running Shoes for High Arches: Salomon Sonic 3 Confidence
"If you have a high arch in your feet, then you'll need some extra cushioning to give your arch the proper support," says Backe. A cushioned shoe enhances shock distribution in the midsole to support your arch and prevents your feet from rolling outward while you're running, he says.
Try Salomon's Sonic 3 Confidence, which provides plenty of stability, sufficient cushioning and Optivibe technology, which helps reduce the impact of foot strike against the ground as you run.
Buy it: Salomon.com; Price: $97.50
6. Best Running Shoes for Bad Knees: Salomon Predict Soc
"For serious knee pain, you should first defer to a professional opinion from a doctor," Braden Moorhead, senior buyer at Zappos.com, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "For runners with knee pain, it is important to look for brands that offer shoes with a higher stack height and lots of cushioning, which will offer a softer ride and may alleviate knee pain," he says.
Shoes with a lower heel-to-toe drop (0 to 8 millimeters) encourage a natural running gate cycle, which allows your quads and glutes to help absorb the shock of landing. Salomon's Predict Soc offers maximum cushioning and stability and also has grooves on the tread to enhance flexibility and facilitate the foot and shoe interface.
Buy it: Salomon.com; Price: $97.50
7. Best Running Shoes for Women: Ryka Ultimate Running Shoe
"The top things to look for top running shoes for women are flexibility and full-foot function — can you bend the shoe toe to heel?" Jessica Marie Rose Leggio, running specialist at RunPainFreeNow.com, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
That's important because your foot is like a gear shift, she says, since it drives your run, setting up a domino effect that triggers each subsequent movement as you run. "The best running shoes would be light-weight, speed-focused trainers."
The LIVESTRONG.com staff pick for this category is Ryka's Ultimate Running Shoe. It's light enough to help you fly through your runs, while still offering plenty of midsole support and cushioning in the heel for comfort. Plus, with the memory foam insole, you may never want to take them off!
Buy it: Ryka.com; Price: $64.99
8. Best Running Shoes for Men: Asics' GEL-CUMULUS 22
"For the best running shoes for men, look for stability, which provides better support and control of the foot throughout the entire running motion," Maurice Oliver, footwear specialist at the REI co-op store in New York City, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Also look for shoe cushioning in the heel and forefoot that aids in shock absorption, he says. Durability is also important to the lifespan of the shoe and the runner's body. Asics' GEL-CUMULUS 22 features technology for optimal bounce back and a full-ground contact outsole for smoother heel-to-toe movement.
Buy it: Asics.com; Price: $120
9. Best Cheap Running Shoes: New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v3
"If you're a runner on a budget, it's important to remember that price doesn't dictate quality on either end of the spectrum," Moorhead says. In other words, inexpensive doesn't always mean cheap in quality, and expensive doesn't necessarily mean it's the best.
Instead, look for what type of cushioning you prefer — firm or plush — and if the materials feel good, he says. Ask yourself, is it comfortable? For under $70, New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v3 offers a breathable mesh for light-weight support so you don't feel weighed down while running.
"But no matter the price, most midsoles (the cushion-y part of the shoe) are made of EVA [etheylne vinyl acetate], and unfortunately, EVA degrades between 300 and 500 miles," he says. "Sometimes when you start to feel new creeks and cracks during or after running, it might be a sign that it's time for a new pair of kicks."
Buy it: NewBalance.com; Price: $64.99