Choosing running shoes

The most important piece of equipment you need for running is the running shoe. It’s practically all you need (maybe some shorts and a shirt so you don’t get arrested). Although a well fitting shoe is important to every runner, it is of vital importance to a diabetic because of the higher degree of debilitation that can occur from a foot injury or even shoe abrasion.

If you are new to running, it may seem intimidating to go into a store to purchase a pair. Here is a quick description of different stride types and the running shoes that are best for them, so you will know what to ask and know a bit about it before you go to buy.

Pronation is the foot’s natural inward roll after it hits the ground on each stride. When it first strikes the ground at the beginning of a stride, the foot makes contact with the ground and then the foot “rolls” slightly inward to make complete contact with the ground. The slight inward rolling of the foot distributes the forces of the impact. At the end of the stride, the push-off force is spread evenly from the front of the foot.

Overpronation is an exaggerated form of the foot’s natural inward roll (pronation). Generally when the inward roll is greater than 15%, the runner is an overpronator. Overpronators need stability or motion control shoes.

Supination (some refer to it as under-pronation) is an outward rolling of the foot on each stride. The foot rolls in the opposite way of pronation. This problem is not nearly as common as pronation. Runners who supinate need shoes designed for that problem.

General types of running shoes to address the type of stride:

Neutral shoes:
These shoes are designed for runners with a normal pronation. These shoes provide shock absorption and medial (arch-side) support, but offer no motion control features. This shoe is great for runners with normal pronation, but heavier runners may still benefit from using a stability shoe which offers more support.

Stability shoes:
These shoes are meant for runners with mild to moderate overpronation. They are not as heavy and controlling as motion control shoes, but still offer support. This is the most popular category of training shoes and are generally built on straight or semi curved molds to offer ground contact stability.

Motion control shoes:
These shoes are built for runners with moderate to severe overpronation. They sometimes have higher density materials on the inner side of the mid-sole to stop it from collapsing as the heel turns onto it, and they are built on a straight mold to provide greater ground contact and stability.

NOTE: When in doubt, my recommendation is to go with the more supportive of the two choices. It is easier to get an injury from using a neutral shoe if you need a stability shoe, but using a stability shoe when it is not needed will generally not cause an injury.

When buying running shoes, a few important things to do:

  • It’s best to go to a specialty running shop, not a big-box or department store.

  • Choose a running store that has a treadmill and if possible, find one that will film your stride and make recommendations on what type of shoe is best for you. Many running stores now do this.

  • Try on both shoes and jog or run in them a little bit. Go to a store that has a treadmill you can use.

  • Try on shoes toward the end of the day when your feet will generally be a little bigger than they are in the morning

  • Make sure you have a little bit of wiggle room in the front of the shoe, and there is no slipping at the heel.

  • If you are just starting out, don’t be a trendsetter. Stick with traditional shoes instead of one of the newest types or a minimalist shoe.

  • What they “look like” does not matter. Running is not a fashion show.

  • Try on as many pairs as you can.

  • Don’t skimp.

  • Do not buy shoes without running in them. Both of them, not just one.

Finally, if you find a pair you like, buy them from the store where you just tried them on! It is poor form to take the salesman’s time and advice, and then go buy them on-line to save a few bucks…

NOTE: Some insurance companies and Medicare may cover shoes and/or orthotics for some diabetics with certain conditions who meet specific criteria.

Questions? Ask!

End of wiki ---------- comments start here


@Eric, what a great write-up!

What are some other considerations that diabetics need to have in their choice?

I am thinking in particular long time diabetics (neuropathy/ vascular)?

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I honestly do not think there is anything that applies particularly to diabetics for this that does not apply to everyone.

This is more about the type of running shoe, the type of support. There is really no shoe where they say, “Oh, you are a diabetic, you should try this shoe…”

The post is more about making people feel less intimidated about buying the shoes and getting started.

You can get compression socks to help with circulation. Every diabetic should be sure the shoes fit and match their stride type. But everybody should do that…

I really don’t know how to make this more specific to diabetics. But if you want to add some sentences for SEO that’s fine.

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@Eric Excellent writeup!

I think the diabetes angle would be that, although a well fitting shoe is important to every runner, it is of vital importance to a diabetic because of the higher degree of debilitation that can occur from a foot injury, or even shoe abrasion.



Diabetes and altered gait: The role of neuropathy

You might also mention that some insurance companies and Medicare cover shoes and/or orthotics for some diabetics with certain conditions who meet specific criteria.

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@britt_j, the article was fascinating!

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I added the diabetes references.


Here is an article on WebMD that focuses on shoes for PWDs:

A couple of sites either focus on shoes for PWDs or have a specialized diabetes section. for instance: