runners - Flickr Creative Commons - Hans SIf you’re a runner, you know a good pair of running shoes can make all the difference in how you run. Additionally, the construction of the shoes can also affect your performance and comfort levels.  

While all running shoe manufacturers construct their shoes differently, typically, running shoes are made with a:

  • Synthetic carbon rubber outsole – helps to avoid abrasion and improve traction.
  • Foam midsole – provides shock absorption.
  • Nylon mesh upper – protects the top of the foot and provides ventilation.

Shoe Lasts

Additionally, since everyone’s foot is shaped differently, shoe manufacturers create shoes from different shaped lasts. A last is a wooden or plastic model of a human foot that’s used to create the shoe. Running shoe lasts are typically:

  • Straight – the forefoot and the rearfoot of the shoe are in alignment. Straight-lasted shoes are best for people with flat feet or no arches, who overpronate or roll their feet inward when running.
  • Semi-curved – the forefoot of the shoe has a slight inward curve. Semi-curved-lasted shoes are best for people with normal arches, who have a neutral stride.
  • Curved – the forefoot of the shoe curves inward. Curve-lasted running shoes are best for runners with high arches, who supinate or roll their feet outward when running.

Midsole Construction

The construction of the midsole also plays a role in durability of the shoes and how well they perform. Typically, midsole materials are lightweight and durable. However, the type of materials used in construction can affect shock absorption and durability.

  • Polyurethane is a sturdy material that can tolerate up to 700 miles of running.
  • Ethylene vinyl acetate is an inexpensive, easy-to-mold material that can wear rapidly the more you run.
  • Adiprene is an urethane polymer that’s treated for enhanced strength and resilence.

Since most runners strike with their lateral heel, many running shoe manufacturers craft their shoes with dual-density midsoles. Softer materials form the outer portion of the midsole to reduce the force of impact and decrease the rate of pronation when running; while, firmer materials in the inner portion guard against excessive pronation. Also, the outer sole is reinforced with high-density carbon rubber to keep the heel from breaking down.

Shoe Stiffness

Overall stiffness of the midsole is another important consideration in the comfort of the shoes you select. The comfort level can vary among runners, so you need to know what your comfort level is as far as midsole stiffness goes. Most high-arched runners tend to prefer extremely flexible midsoles while low-arched runners like slightly stiffer midsoles. To determine shoe stiffness, grab the heel and the forefeet of the shoe and twist it in several directions to determine how flexible or stiff the shoe is.

Shoe Cushioning

The weight of the midsole cushioning can also affect your running. Excessive cushioning can increase fatigue when running since your muscles have to work harder when accelerating and decelerating. But the removal of midsole cushioning can increase your risk of chronic injury. Therefore, most running shoes have only about 10 mm of cushioning material under the forefoot and 6 to 12 mm beneath the rearfoot. However, this material thickness can go up or down depending upon whether you’re a recreational or experienced runner and your preferences.

When selecting the perfect running shoe, you need ensure the midsole of your shoes are comfortable and right for your running style. Therefore, find the right thickness, stiffness and downward slope of the shoe for your needs.

Relieve Pain with ezWalker Performance Custom Orthotics

Remember, running shoes, like any shoes, are created as mirror-matched images – but your feet are not. Some runners may have flat arches or high arches or they may need additional foot support for issues like overpronation or supination. Or, they may suffer from foot conditions like plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis or heel or arch pain. If this is the case, you may want to consider getting custom orthotics, like ezWalker® Performance Custom Orthotics. These custom orthotics are made specifically for each of your individual feet. These orthotic devices will align your feet into the proper biomechanical position your feet need as you run. With ezWalker® Custom Orthotics, you’ll find that you run more efficiently. Plus, your body won’t have to compensate for poor positioning and decreased stability, so you’ll have less pain in the joints of your feet, ankles, knees, hips and lower back.

Ultra thin and ¾ length, ezWalker® Custom Performance Orthotics fit in running shoes with ease. So for maximum comfort when you run, order your pair today.

Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.® And you’ll run even better.

Photo credit: Creative Commons/Flickr/Hans Splinter