Last week we discussed how to determine if you are in need of new shoes. With the season coming to a close, you’ve put plenty of miles on your current pair and may be ready to shop for new ones. With so many options on the market, which shoe is right for you?

There are 3 main types of running shoes that are appropriate for summer training. In order to choose the best one, you need to know a little bit about your feet. The sales-associate at your local running store will be very helpful in determining what type of feet you have. Please shop at your local running store. You will find the knowledge of the staff far superior to large department stores or outlet stores. They may even put you on a treadmill and do some gait analysis (for free) in order to help select the best shoe. Furthermore, the cushioning, or EVA, starts to change when it has been sitting on a shelf for a while, which may be the case with shoes at outlet stores. The folks at the local running store will not only know more about the shoe, but also more about your foot. There is a lot to know about foot type, for our purposes we will discuss two types of feet: the rigid and the flexible.

The Rigid Foot
Rigid feet usually have a higher arch, and these runners tend to do less pronating, (rolling their foot in) during running. Because their foot is rigid, it is also very stable. For this reason they need less stability in their shoe because they’ve already got it built into their foot. Sound like the perfect foot? Well not so fast. If a foot is too rigid, it does not absorb shock as well, and this lack in shock absorption can cause injury. Therefore, these runners need to look for cushioning when shoe shopping.

The Flexible Foot
People who have very flexible feet tend to have lower arches, and are also more likely to pronate when they run. The good news is that their foot absorbs shock well. The bad news is that the arch has a tendency to collapse and pronate the foot when running. This can wreck all sorts of havoc when it comes to proper running mechanics and injury risk. Therefore, runners with flexible feet need less cushioning, and more stability in their running shoe.

Armed with this information you are ready to hit the stores. Before you go, here is a list of the three main categories of shoes: motion control, stability, and cushioned.

Motion Control Shoes:
Made for flexible feet, these shoes tend to offer more arch support. They are more stable in order to prevent the arch from collapsing down. They have plenty of support on the inner side of the shoe to prevent pronation. Motion control shoes have become so effective in recent years that some folks can avoid custom orthotics by running in a good motion control shoe. Because they offer so much stability they tend to be heavier then other types of shoes.

Stability Shoe
The stability shoe is for the average foot. Not to flexible, not to rigid. They offer some arch support and stability, but not nearly as much as the motion control shoe.

The Cushioned shoe
This is the lightest shoe in the group, offering the least in arch support or pronation control. They usually have the most cushioned sole. A runner with good lower leg alignment and a rigid foot will do well in this type of shoe.

A word on trail shoes
If you plan to do a lot of off-road running this summer, you may want to choose a trail shoe. They vary in the amount of support they offer, although they do tend to be a bit bulkier. Despite your foot type and running pattern, you can probably find a trail shoe to do the job. The main difference is that trail shoes will offer more traction on the sole, and usually a reinforced toe.

So that’s your summer shoe-shopping guide!

Remember, rigid feet/high arches tend to need more cushioned running shoes. Runners with flexible feet/lower aches should purchase a shoe with more motion control.