The secret to selecting the best running shoes (the industry doesn’t want you to know)

Running shoe companies claim their footwear offers high-tech help for preventing injuries. And you can bet you’ll pay a pretty penny for their so-called “high-tech advancements.” But when researchers investigated what happens to your feet when you run, however, they uncovered the most important injury-preventing characteristic to look for when buying shoes.

Their finding: The best way to get the shoes that are right for your feet are to pick out the pair that feels most comfortable to you.

According to a review study at the University of Calgary in Canada, all of the tweaks that shoe companies have made to running shoes probably don’t help all that much in preventing injuries.

So instead of listening to the claims that shoe manufacturers make about how their shoes support your feet, you should rely on your own feelings when trying on shoes and pick out the ones that feel like they fit the best and that are most comfortable when you run.

According to the researchers, the complicated structure of feet and the complex biomechanical forces that are in play when folks run have made it very difficult to discern exactly what shoe features might or might not be most influential in protecting runners from getting hurt.

According to researcher Benno Nigg, the best measure of how well a shoe is going to suit your foot is how you feel when you put it on. He says that the body’s sensory apparatus that is built into your feet and legs are more sensitive and accurate than any lab tool that’s supposed to gauge a shoe’s worth.

In other words, Nigg says, listen to your body. Don’t listen to the marketing messages meant to convince you that certain types of shoes are superior to others.

When trying on shoes, Nigg recommends trying on several different pairs and doing a small amount of jogging in each pair to see how they conform to your running style. Trot around the store if you have to.

“People can usually tell right away which shoe feels the most comfortable,” Nigg tells The New York Times. “That is the one to choose.”

Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.