Choosing the right running shoe can be quite the challenge. Walk into any running shop and you’ll be greeted by a huge range of different styles, each pair promising a blend of speed and support. How do you pick what’s best for you?
In the past I’ve struggled to find the right shoe. Normally when I’ve ordered a pair online or haven’t bothered to get them properly fitted, I end up with ill-fitting shoes that don’t get enough wear.
Not all shoes are created equal and they won’t all be right for your feet. Finding a pair that fits properly from heel to toe, complements your unique foot structure, and provides comfort mile after mile, is crucial for enjoyment and injury prevention.
Wearing the wrong shoes can lead to issues and injury risk like foot, knee, hip and back pain, often as a result of poor biomechanics that stem from the feet. It’s essential to support our feet with the right shoes, to avoid causing more harm than good through running.
Visiting the Fitstuff shop and actually trying on the shoes is a great start to finding the right shoes, but understanding the unique needs of your feet can still be a challenge, and may be especially important if you’ve struggled with injuries in the past.
That’s why I met with Andy, a qualified running biomechanics and technique specialist at the Fitstuff Clinic and RunLab, for a premium shoe fitting experience. Thankfully, I came away with some key insights on finding the right fit.
My Premium Shoe Fit Experience
Andy’s approach began with the dynamic 2D and 3D Footscan® mat assessment, enabling him to closely examine my natural foot function without shoes. As I walked across the interactive test pad equipped with 4000 sensors, Andy explained that the system was mapping the points of my feet in most contact with the ground, analysing my pronation and where the distribution of load through my feet.
As we reviewed the data Andy explained that the ideal foot function should create an ‘S’ shape through the foot. In the photo from our session, you can see he identified a more pronounced ‘S’ shape in my left foot but a weaker ‘S’ in the right foot. Andy explained, “this indicates that you have a more neutral foot type on the left and a flatter foot type on the right”. Andy also noticed an uneven load across my metatarsals (the bones in my forefoot).
From the other data provided by the Footscan, Andy analysed my natural gait, pinpointing any asymmetries or abnormalities in my foot pressure, timing and stability that could be addressed with the right shoe. He identified my strengths and weaknesses, guiding me towards personalised shoe recommendations tailored to my running style and injury prevention needs.
So, what does all this mean for my choice of running shoe? Andy clarified that because I didn’t exhibit significant overpronation, I could opt for a more neutral shoe for up to 10km runs when aiming for speed and personal bests. For longer runs, he recommended a more stable shoe to provide additional support. He then gave me several different pairs to try based on the Footscan data, and analysed my running on the treadmill while wearing each pair. Ultimately, we settled on the Brooks Adrenaline GTS as the ideal choice for me, where I run, and how far I go!
Why Premium Analysis Matters
Andy explained that whilst a traditional running gait analysis, typically done in running shoes on a treadmill, can be useful, it has limitations when it comes to understanding the natural movement of your feet.
He pointed out during our conversation,“Your bones, muscles, and tendons all move within your skin, within a sock, further encased within a shoe,” and went on to explain that “This makes it harder to truly determine how your feet would move without the influence of footwear. When you step onto the specialised mat and walk across it, you gain a much more precise understanding of how your feet naturally interact with the ground. This insight can be really important in determining the most suitable shoes for your unique needs.”
While a standard gait analysis provides valuable insights into how your foot functions within a shoe, the premium analysis goes the extra mile by providing a more comprehensive dataset. This additional data ensures that you’re making the right choice when it comes to your running footwear.
The Fitstuff RunLab's use of the Footscan® technology adds an extra layer of precision, backed by science and professionally approved by the Royal College of Podiatry. The data it provides goes beyond what the naked eye can see on a treadmill, providing a better understanding of your foot's natural movement.
Whether you're a seasoned runner or just starting, finding the right running shoes is essential to prevent injury and maintain performance. Thanks to Andy and the Fitstuff Clinic, I've gained valuable insights into my running that will help me enjoy running for the long run. For more details on their services, explore their website – they're here to help you find your perfect fit.