Picking the right running shoe for you

PASADENA, Calif. Color and style often determine which athletic shoe we buy, not the best parameters when selecting a pair that works. But what you may not realize is that the inside of the shoe and the bottom of the shoe tell a story. Look closely you'll see a legend. It will show you if this shoe is for you.

"The running shoe category actually makes a shoe for a different foot type," said Mike Gonzalez, manager of Run With Us in Pasadena.

While cross trainers and walking shoes are more universal, Gonzalez says running shoes have a map or key for you to see and feel for different foot types like high arch, medium arch or those with a flat foot.

Shoes for flat feet have a flat bottom with a wider base, going from single density to double density.

"The gray portion is more rigid and it's going to give you more arch support," said Gonzlaez.

For medium or standard arch, "it's not as long and it is a little bit more curve to the shoe. It's not flat, there's a cut out," said Gonzalez.

Visually the dense gray area is shorter than the shoe for flat feet, as not as much thickness is needed.

"If you have a higher arch, you just need a natural cushion shoe. [It] has the same density all the way around the shoe," said Gonzalez.

It's smart to go to a specialty store for a proper fitting. Experts watch you walk and make you try on different brands in your foot type.

You should try shoes on at the end of the day when your feet have expanded. Look for a half to a full thumbnail in between your big toe and top of the shoe for best fit.

Gonzalez says you can buy a decent pair like last year's closeouts for $50 to $60, but current models average about $100 for good reason.

"A lot of the manufacturers are using mid-soles that are more durable now, they won't compress quite as fast," said Gonzalez.

Buying two pairs will actually save the life of the shoes as they need a day off to breathe and decompress.

Trainer Julia Moricelli says she sees clients multi-tasking in their shoes -- wearing them while doing housework, washing the car and walking the dog -- which is a mistake.

Keep a pair for indoor gym activities to avoid exterior wear and tear.

"It will actually save you a lot of money in the long run because you won't be wearing down your shoe as well," said Moricelli.

Finally, know when to toss them.

"A lot of people wear their shoes too long and so it breaks down and then it doesn't absorb the shock that it's suppose to absorb," said Dr. Jason Karp, a running specialist. "Then when people are still increasing the amount of work that their doing in the old shoes, that's when they start to run into problems."

Dr. Karp says a good rule of thumb is to toss your shoes after six months or 300 to 400 miles.

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