GEL – Kayano 21
Running Shoe Basics
A running shoe is designed to cradle the foot, and not just protect it from the pounding, but to optimize a runner's gait in such a way that a person can run longer and faster without worrying about injury. At its most basic, a running shoe is made up of an outsole, midsole and upper. The outsole is the bottom of the shoe, that durable slab of rubber providing traction throughout the gait cycle. The midsole rests atop the outsole, and provides cushioning and stability. The upper is generally made of mesh, synthetic fabrics or leather, and cocoons the foot.
Just as every run is unique, so every running shoe is designed for a specific type of runner. When selecting a running shoe, take into account the frequency of your training and your performance level. A shoe should fit comfortably and snug, but should not be so tight that your toes press against the front of the shoe or the top of your foot aches from the laces being too tight. If you run a great deal, it might be a good idea to look for a shoe that features the GEL® Cushioning System in the heel and forefoot.
Also, be aware of your gait. The three broad categories that define running shoes -- Cushioning, Structured Cushioning, and Maximum Support -- enhance gait by working with the natural movement of your foot, providing a more efficient stride. How you pronate plays a great part in a shoe's ability to enhance your running experience. Pronation is a normal, natural rolling motion that helps to attenuate shock. Some runners find that their foot does not roll all the way in, making the foot work harder to push off properly. This is known as underpronation (or supination). Conversely, a foot that rolls inward too much in known as overpronation. Runners who underpronate (or, supinate) would feel more comfortable with a Cushioning shoe. Overpronators do better with Maximum Support, and those with a more neutral stride would do well with Structured Cushioning.
Take the Wet Test
This basic test will provide you with a look at your foot imprint. You can use this print to determine your arch shape which guides you in finding a suitable pronation range.
- Fill a shallow pan with water and have a paper grocery bag nearby.
- Step in the pan of water and immediately transfer your foot to the grocery bag. You can also step on cement to gain an imprint.
- Let the water set in the bag to give you a clear imprint.
- Use the guides below to help determine your pronation range and best category suited for your arch type.
Find Your Arch Type / Pronation
A high-arched foot is also known as an under-pronated foot. A runner with under-pronating feet is more likely to experience shock transmission through the lower legs, and should choose shoes from the Cushioning Category or those shoes that meet the needs of Under Pronating to Neutral runners.
Runners with normal arches typically experience minimal biomechanical problems and should select those shoes from the Structured Cushioning Category or those shoes that meet the needs of the Neutral to Over Pronating runners.
Flat-footed runners tend to have over-pronating feet, which generally result in poor natural shock absorption. These runners should pick shoes from the Maximum Support Category or those shoes that meet the needs of Over Pronating to Severe Over Pronating runners.
Choose Your Category Type
Products in the Structured Cushioning segment are designed for runners who pronate slightly more than normal and generally have a normal arch. Their foot strike takes place in a neutral to slightly pronated position, using the body's natural pronation to attenuate shock. Structured Cushioning runners need their shoes to help control a small degree of overpronation, but they don't need all the shock attenuation attributes of a Cushion segment shoe.
The Cushioning segment is designed to meet the needs of underpronators to mild overpronators and tend to have a high arch. This type of runner needs a great deal of shock attenuation because they don't absorb shock naturally through pronation. Their foot either does not pronate at all, or pronates such a small amount that the body can't attenuate shock in its natural manner. Instead of the body's connective tissue absorbing shock through pronation, bones and joints take the brunt of the shock. It's vital that shoes in the Cushioning segment attenuate as much initial impact shock as possible. An additional note: runners wearing Cushioning shoes tend have a rigid forefoot, thus requiring that the shoe be very flexible there.
The Maximum Support category is designed for runners who tend to land in an overtly pronated position with a flat foot. Like the Cushion segment, these runners are not using all their body's natural shock attenuation mechanisms. What makes them different is that these runners exhibit a large degree of pronation beginning with landing in a pronated state, then continuing past normal. Like the Structured Cushion segment, these runners need help to control the degree of pronation.
Designed to meet the needs of runners who prefer to take their run off-road. This category offers a range to suit most pronation ranges. Shoes may offer addtional features such as water resistant uppers and special tongue construction to help keep debris out.