The Importance of Finding the Right Shoe

While running shoes have immersed into the fashion world over recent years, the numerous choices can be overwhelming for some.

Most look beyond what a running shoe is meant for and chose style over comfort. Running is already a difficult form of exercise for some, so finding the right shoe is one of the more important things to consider throughout your training progression.

Whatever your level of ability, the importance of finding the right shoe to run has been found to be crucial. Proper footwear will not only improve your performance but reduce the risk of injury. Research suggest that comfortable running shoes are associated with lower frequency of injuries than uncomfortable shoes.

The relationship between running performance and the right shoe for you is unparalleled. Understanding your foot and what type of foot you have when you run is the first step to improve your performance.


The foot is made up of many bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. As you run or walk, forces are applied from the ground. In most cases your foot is caused to roll in (pronate) to absorb the shock. Others will supinate (foot rolls outward), while some are neutral.

Understanding how your foot reacts to the force applied when you run, helps determine the right shoe for you.

Pronated foot – Means that when you walk, your weight tends to be more on the inside of your foot.

Neutral foot – The most common type of foot. A runner with a neutral type of foot lands on the heel and rolls forward during the gait cycle until the impact is distributed evenly across the forefoot.

Supinated foot – Means when you walk, your weight tends to be more on the outside of your foot.

Hear from an expert:

Exercise Right had the chance to speak with Principal Podiatrist, High Performance Coach and Founder of Proactive Performance, Patrick Doan.

Patrick is the first podiatrist in Australia to be a registered with Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA), Exercise Scientist and Level 2 Sports Scientist. And the only podiatrist in Australia with Australian Strength & Conditioning Association (ASCA), Professional Coaching Accreditation Scheme (PCAS), Professional and Level 2 Strength & Conditioning Accreditation.

We asked Patrick a few questions on the importance of finding the right shoe for running.

The importance of finding the right shoe:


How important is it to find the right shoe for runners?

The right shoes is vital for tasks such as walking and running. Everyone has a different walking/running pattern as well as strength, flexibility, mobility, stride length and functional capacity.

A look at a runners biomechanical and musculoskeletal movement plays a large part in finding the right shoe as your body’s mechanics can influence your strike pattern, shock absorption and propulsion capabilities. This can greatly affect the best suited shoe for you. Certain shoe types can cause pain or discomfort if not suited to your movement style.

What are the main considerations a runner should make when it comes to finding the shoe?

A shoe can be broken down to its individual components anatomically such as outsole, midsole, upper, fixation and heel counter. It is also important to tailor the shoes to the surface that you are running in mind which could be concrete/road, trails/rocks, grass, even gravel. Considerations around having shoes that can do multiple surfaces can be possible but tricky to find especially for runners with feet that are either really narrow or really wide.

If you have any running related pain (strains/tightness, foot, knee, ankle hip etc) it is important to have your gait and functional movement analysed by the right experts such as a accredited sports & exercise scientists, podiatrists, physiotherapists or biomechanists prior to purchasing your next shoe. This will save you money in the long term as the shoe you buy now may be completely different to what is prescribed for you.


What are your top 3-5 tips for finding the right shoe?

Shoe fit – make sure there is enough room at the toe box for depth, length and width. Always try on shoes with the socks you intend on wearing them with. A perfect example would be hiking shoes as you can have many choices with thick wool socks, thin liner socks or a combination of synthetic and natural fibers. With so many sock choices it is important to have the optimal fit from the start.

Time of day – when trying on shoes consider that in the morning or if you have not done much walking/physical activity then the foot will not be as swollen or enlarged as if you would try on the shoes at the end of the day or after exercise.

Shoe outsole and upper – it is important ensure your shoes are fit for purpose and for the right environment. Upper considerations can include different materials such as leather, mesh, knit or even waterproof materials like goretex. Outsole options such as carbon blown rubber for road grip, sole patterns, different lugs for going on the trail are important considerations for shoe choice.

If in doubt always go to a specialty shoe store like the Athlete’s Foot where they can provide a fitting service and tailor the shoe to your foot shape, size, width and activity.

If you have an injury history or and aches and pains it is best to seek expert advice from a foot, ankle or lower limb specialist such as Sports Podiatrist to have a thorough musculoskeletal assessment and you can have a professional footwear prescription done through them.

Need a hand finding the right shoe?

An Accredited Exercise Physiologist can assist you by guiding you through an individualised, safe and evidence-based advice to help find the right shoe for you. Get in touch with your local exercise expert today by clicking here.

The Nike Run Club gives you the guidance, inspiration and innovation you need to become a better athlete. Join Nike Run Club to reach your goals and have fun along the way. Download to get started. 


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Written by Exercise Right staff.

We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series.

The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.

Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.