When heading out on a run, don’t just throw on any pair of sneakers. That Nike swoosh doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be a good pair of shoes to run in. When you run, you need a shoe that is supportive and comfortable. This not only protects you during your run but keeps you from having foot or back pain afterward. If you’re a regular runner, make sure you invest in a good pair of running shoes. Here are some qualities that you should be looking for:

 

OUTSOLE

The bottom of a running shoe is referred to as an outsole. Most running shoes use a combination of two rubbers at the outsole: carbon rubber and blown rubber. Carbon rubber is a sturdier and heavier material that makes the bottom durable, while blown rubber is light and flexible, adding comfort to the shoe.

Great running shoes also have flex grooves and a split heel. Flex grooves are slotted right across the forefront of the sole. They make it easier for your shoe to bend and ensure that you can move your foot naturally while running. A split heel divides the outsole into an outer and inner piece. This makes it easier to run heel-to-toe.

 

MIDSOLE

The midsole sits right between the outsole and the upper. It is made up of the layers of material that absorb shock as you run. The midsole is particularly important in a running shoe because the design and the materials used will affect the cushioning effect as your feet hit the ground. A well-designed midsole will also ensure that your shoe is supportive. Most running shoe midsoles are made up of either EVA or polyurethane. EVA is typically lighter, but it will also provide less support. Polyurethane is more supportive, but it will also be heavier. It will depend on your preference.

If you want a running shoe that offers a little more stability, opt for a midsole made of stiffer materials. This will keep your foot from rolling inwards. If you want a more natural feel, opt for EVA cushioning instead. You can always ask a salesperson at a specialty running store if you aren’t sure what would be better for you.

 

UPPER

The entire outer body of a running shoe is referred to as the upper. This part of the shoe is made of light, breathable material combined with durable leather. This ensures that your foot is stable in your shoe, yet comfortable. The upper consists of a last, toe box, heel counter, and Achilles notch.

The last is the shape of your shoe. There are three general types of lasts: straight, semi-curved, and curved. Everyone has a different foot shape & foot arch, so you’ll have to try some different shoes on to figure out the last that feels comfortable. If you have a problem of low or high arch with your feet it is recommended that you check out the best shoes for high arches by runnerscan.com.

When trying on a shoe, make sure the toe box is comfortable. Again, it depends on your foot. Some people have narrow feet and are therefore able to wear running shoes with small toe boxes. If you’ve got wider or longer toes, you’ll need a larger toe box to make sure you can comfortably flex your foot as you run.

The heel counter is also important as it will fit your foot snugly and ensure that your shoes don’t fall off. Choose the heel counter that feels comfortable to you.

Finally, the Achilles notch is a small groove in your shoe that keeps your Achilles’ tendon safe as you run. Again, try a variety of shoes on until you find one that feels comfortable.