Match your foot type
A mismatch that puts your feet through an unnatural pattern can cause all kinds of problems and injuries. Feet generally fall into these three categories:
1. If your feet are rigid, curved and tend to underpronate — or roll outward excessively on landing (often the case with high arches)— you need a shoe with a curved last (the shape of the outsole), soft cushioning and strong midfoot support.
2. If your feet are neutral, they need shoes with a semi-curved last and moderate cushioning.
3. If your feet are straight or flexible and typically overpronate —or roll excessively inward on landing (often the case with low arches)— they need a straight last and a firm insert on the arch side of the midsole, a firm midsole and a lower heel.
Match your workout
Boot Camp & Agility Classes
Who needs it: Fitness fans who do calisthenics on grass or pavement
What to look for: Sneakers that provide excellent traction and makes it easy to do fast foot movements with confidence. Also, shock absorbers in the heel and forefoot make plyometric moves less jarring.
All-Around Gym Use
Who needs it: Women who divide their workouts between machines, weights, and classes
What to look for: A sole that provides a lot of side-to-side stability and traction without suction. Plenty of cushioning and a snug rub-free heel are also important.
Who needs it: Runners who don't let rocks, roots or ruts get in their way
What to look for: A flexible plastic plate in the midsole and an over-size toe bumper so that feet feel impervious to rocks. For rainy day runners, a thick outsole and grippy traction prevent slippage on muddy trails.
Who needs it: Mild over-pronators or runners with a neutral stride
What to look for: A super-light, flexible sole helps runners get up on their toes and turn on the speed. Go for a shoe that's supportive without being stiff.
Who needs it: Runners training for a 10K or greater race
What to look for: A light, but supportive shoe with great traction that grabs pavement. A roomy toe box is crucial because feet swell during longer runs.
Who needs it: Dedicated fitness walkers
What to look for: Sneakers with cushion under the heel and a soft forefoot pad. If you walk in all weather, you'll need grippy traction to provide security on wet pavement.
Tip: To avoid arch aches and pains, buy new sneakers every 300 to 600 miles.