Choosing a Shoe: The Very Basics

Garmin fēnix

There’s no single 'best shoe' – everyone has different needs. All sorts of things - your biomechanics, your weight, the surfaces you run on, and obviously, the shape of your feet - mean that one person's ideal shoe can be terrible for another person.

We divide our shoes into three main categories (stability, performance, neutral and minimalist):

Stability

Recommended for runners who are mild tomoderate overpronators and who generally have low to normal arches. These runners tend to need a shoe with a combination of good support and midsole cushioning.

Performance

Recommended either for racing or, ifyou’re biomechanically efficient, for training. They have varying degrees ofsupport and cushioning, but at 250-300g, they’re generally lighter and narrower than other running shoes.

Neutral

Recommended for runners who need maximummidsole cushioning and minimum medial support. These shoes are best for biomechanically efficient runners (with minimum pronation) and midfoot orforefoot strikers with high or normal arches.

Minimalist

Recommended for biomechanically efficient runners who want maximum responsiveness and a stripped-down shoe while retaining an element of cushioning. These are seen as the mid point between neutral cushioned and performance shoes

The first step in finding your basic shoe needs is to try our 'Wet Test', below or, preferably, to visit a biomechanics expert or experienced shoe retailer.

The Wet Test works on the basis that the shape of your wet footprint on a dry floor or piece of paper roughly correlates with the amount of stability you might need in your shoe. It will show you what features you should look for and equip you with the basic knowledge you need to make the most of our RW Shoe Finder, the next step in your search.


The Normal Foot
Normal feet have a normal-sized arch and will leave a wet footprint that has a flare, but shows the forefoot and heel connected by a broad band. A normal foot lands on the outside of the heel and rolls inwards slightly to absorb shock. It’s the foot of a runner who is biomechanically efficient and therefore doesn’t need a motion control shoe.
Best shoes: Stability shoes with moderate control features.
Next step: RW Shoe Finder
More about stability shoes | Just show me the reviews
The Flat Foot
This has a low arch and leaves a print which looks like the whole sole of the foot. It usually indicates an overpronated foot – one that strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls inwards (pronates) excessively. Over time, this can cause many different types of overuse injuries.
Best shoes: Motion control shoes, or high stability shoes with firm midsoles and control features that reduce the degree of pronation. Stay away from highly cushioned, highly curved shoes, which lack stability features.
Next step: RW Shoe Finder
More about motion control shoes | Just show me the reviews
The High-Arched Foot
This leaves a print showing a very narrow band or no band at all between the forefoot and the heel. A curved, highly arched foot is generally supinated or underpronated. Because it doesn’t pronate enough, it’s not usually an effective shock absorber.
Best shoes: Cushioned (or 'neutral') shoes with plenty of flexibility to encourage foot motion. Stay away from motion control or stability shoes, which reduce foot mobility.
Next step: RW Shoe Finder
More about cushioned shoes | Just show me the reviews

The Other Shoe Types
Our other shoe categories are for faster runners, and off-road runners: