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How To Select The Best Running Shoe?

How To Select The Best Running Shoe?

Do you live in Ottawa, and are you seeking advice on selecting the Best Running Shoe?

Then, you are in the right place.

Today I will talk about how to select the Best Running Shoe.

Let’s jump in.

How To Select The Best Running Shoe?

Most people get their knowledge from shoe companies.

But, unfortunately, the design of running shoes is not based on science.

Historically, the terms for categorizing running shoes are vague, including minimalist, traditional and maximal.

To help categorize running shoes easier, researchers developed the “Minimalist Index.”

What is the Minimalist Index?

Let’s find out

What is the Minimalist Index?

In 2015 researchers created a minimalist scale called the “Minimalist Index or MI.”

The researchers gave shoes a minimalist index of between zero and 100% based on weight, stack height, heel-to-toe drop, stability and motion control and flexibility.

The minimalist index of a shoe determines how the runner will run (Biomechanics), how fast they will run (Performance) and where injuries will appear.

For example, runners wearing shoes will have a rear foot strike, while if they run barefoot, they are more forefoot.

Additionally, barefoot runners will have a higher cadence (more steps) so increasing their efficiency.

The industry standard for most shoes is about 20%.

The minimum index to improve the impact of moderating behaviour is 70%.

Minimalist Index and Injuries

More Maximalist shoes will have more loading on the shin, knee, hip and lower back, making that area more prone to injury.

A minimalist shoe loads the Achilles tendon and calf muscles.

The minimalist index can help us decide what type of shoe is more beneficial based on the type of injury.

A 2022 study found that more cushioning or motion control technologies do not prevent injuries.

The researchers also found that pronators or people with flat feet do not require motion control technology to avoid injury.

Minimalist Index and Performance

Evidence shows that if an average marathon runner wears a shoe that is 100 grams (more minimalist) compared to someone wearing a 350-gram running shoe, the former will run 10 minutes faster.

If you are not injured and do not want to increase your performance, you should not change your shoes.

While if you are injured or want to run faster, you could consider switching to a more minimalist running shoe.

But the change must be gradual to avoid injury.

How Gradually Should You Change To New Running Shoes

As a rule of thumb, you should have one month of gradual transition for every 10-20% difference on the Minimalist Index (MI).

So, for example, changing from a shoe MI of 20% to an MI of 70% should take 2.5 to 5 months.

If you have shin, knee, hip or back injuries and want to change from a 20% MI running shoe, you should use a 70% but gradually.

So, on the first day, you should run for 1 minute wearing the 70% and then 29 minutes in the 20% shoes. Then, the next day, you should wear the 70% for 2 minutes, the 20% for 28 minutes, and so on.

If you experience any Achilles or calf pain while transitioning, you should remain at that time until the pain goes away.

This gradual transition may take between 3-6 months.

A runner with no injuries may transition to a more minimal shoe quicker but must listen to their body.

Which is the best Running Shoe is Best?

The Running Clinic has developed a simple algorithm to help the general public choose the best running shoe. Click here to see the simple algorithm.

If you are a seasoned runner with an injury, you should consult a health professional accredited by the Running Clinic.

To help professionals, the Running Clinic has produced a more complex algorithm to help you understand what shoe is best dependent on if you are injured or not and whether you are a Beginner, Recreational or competitive runner. Click here to see the complex algorithm.

To help illustrate how the algorithm work, below are four case studies:

Case Study 1: Kim

Kim has never run before. She also has flat feet, which she is concerned might affect her running ability.

Which type of shoes should she try first?

a. Motion-control shoes
b. Maximalist shoes (very cushioned)
c. Minimalist Shoes (MI>70%)
d. Most Comfortable

The answer is a mixture of c and d. She should start with the most comfortable shoe but aim towards a more minimalist shoe.

Case Study 2: Issac

Issac has been running for five years. He runs in Brooks Pure Grit 7 running shoes (MI 40%; 275g). Unfortunately, he has been experiencing knee cap pain for the last six months.

What should he do?

a. Stop running until the pain goes away.
b. Do strengthening exercises.
c. Transition to a minimalist shoe (MI>70%)
d. Transition to a traditional shoe (MI<40%)

The answer is b. strengthening exercises to help with knee pain, and c. transitioning to more minimalist shoes because they will take the load off the knee.

Case Study 3: Susan

Susan has been running for two years. She runs in Merrell Pace Glove 3 running shoes (MI: 84%; 164g). Unfortunately, she has been suffering from Plantar fasciopathy for one week.

What should she do?

a. Stop running until the pain goes away.
b. Do Strengthening exercises.
c. transition to more minimalist shoes.
d. Transition to traditional shoes (MI<40%)

The answer is a. take some time off running and d. wear traditional shoes for her everyday life until the pain disappears.

Case Study 4: Shawn

Shawn has been running for ten years. He runs in Saucony Endorphin Shift shoes (MI: 40%, 293g). He wants to achieve the Boston Marathon qualifying time, which equates to a 5-minute improvement in his best time.

What should he do?

a. Buy a carbon fibre-plated model
b. Gradually adapt to a lighter model
c. Transition to a minimalist shoe (>70%)
d. Train well plus recover well plus strengthening exercises

The answer is firstly d. concentrating on the basics, particularly strengthening exercises, can improve performance by 3-5%.

Then, b and c, adapting to a lighter minimalist shoe would also help the performance by increasing cadence and limiting overstriding.

Let’s Wrap Up

If you are not injured, the shoes you wear may not make a lot of difference in performance, and other factors may have a more significant effect.

If you are injured, changing your shoe may have a therapeutic effect, but you may want to rest for a few days, mainly if it is an acute injury.

Now It’s Time To Hear From You

Are you considering to start running?

What advice did you get from your shoe store about choosing the best running shoe?

Are you carrying any running injuries?

Do you need help?

If you live in Ottawa and want to explore whether my approach to Osteopathy can help, I suggest you book a free osteopathy discovery session to discuss whether I can help you.


The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply this information without first speaking with your doctor.

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