Running Shoes Fit Guide: Find the right running shoe for you.

Running Shoe Fit Guide

Like any athlete, runners of every level need the proper equipment to keep them safe. The right running shoes can provide comfort, flexibility, and support during your run and can also contribute to a quick recovery afterward. Finding the ideal amount of cushioning and structure for your stride can minimize excessive friction and prevent blisters.

This guide will help you find the right shoe for you. It will explain the basics of running shoe anatomy and what you should look for in regards to how each component of the shoe fits. It will also explain different styles of running and the types of running shoes that are best suited for each style.

The Four Essential Factors in Choosing and Keeping a Running Shoe Are:

1. Fit and Feel

A running shoe is made up of three basic components: the upper, the midsole, and the outsole. The upper and lining determine how the running shoe feels on your foot while the midsole and outsole combine to cushion and support your stride. Here's a quick look at the components that make up a running shoe and how each should feel on your foot.

Shoe Part Materials How it Should Fit and Feel
Upper The upper is typically made of mesh and some sort of overlay to provide support. The upper should feel snug and breathable, and should not rub excessively during your stride.
Midsole The midsole is typically made of some type of foam and can also contain various firmer support elements. The midsole should provide proper arch support, cushion, and rebound. Your foot should feel supported and not slip or flop over the sides.
Outsole The outsole is typically made of rubber or some durable composite. The outsole should provide adequate traction for your running surface.
Toe Box The toe box is often covered with a protective overlay to boost durability and reinforcement of support. The toe area should allow room for toes to wiggle while standing. Some runners prefer a wider toe box to allow their toes to splay.
Heel Counter The heel counter is composed of plastic or other materials used to secure the heel and protect against slippage and abrasion. Your heel can move but not excessively and should be well formed and fit snugly.
Width Area The upper and the last (the shape of the shoe platform) determine the width. Width should be snug enough that the foot does not slide around easily.

2. Pronation and Support Type

The right amount of cushion and pronation control relieves stress on your knees, hips, and ankles, helping you to feel better during your run and recover more quickly. Pronation is how your ankle and foot move from the beginning to the end of each stride. Your arch height most correlates to your pronation needs.

How to determine your foot arch:

  1. Get the bottom of your foot damp (not dripping, but wet on the entire surface).
  2. Step on a dry paper bag or another surface like dry concrete that will show your footprint.
  3. Match your footprint to one of the options below.

Flat Arch

A flat arch leaves a print that looks like the whole sole of the foot.

Foot Alignment: Overpronate

Your stride may tend to roll heavily to the inside edge of your foot.

Recommended Shoes: Motion Control

The overpronater with a low arch needs a motion control shoe that provides maximum support to restrict foot roll.

› Shop Women's Motion Control Running Shoes
› Shop Men's Motion Control Running Shoes

Low Arch

A low arch leaves a print that shows part of the inner sole of the foot.

Foot Alignment: Mild- to Moderate-Pronate

Your stride may tend to roll slightly to the inside of the foot.

Recommended Shoes: Stability

Stability shoes enhance arch support to lessen foot roll through the stride.

› Shop Women's Stability Running Shoes
› Shop Men's Stability Running Shoes

Medium Arch

A medium or neutral arch leaves a print of the outside heel and shows the forefoot and heel connected by a broad band.

Foot Alignment: Neutral

Your stride tends to roll to the center of the foot.

Recommended Shoes: Neutral

The neutral pronator with a medium arch needs a neutral running shoe that does not counteract with your foot type.

› Shop Women's Neutral Running Shoes
› Shop Men's Neutral Running Shoes

High Arch

A high arch leaves a print showing a very narrow or no band at all between the forefoot and the heel.

Foot Alignment: Underpronation / Supination

Your stride tends to roll along the outside edge of your foot.

Recommended Running Shoes: Cushioning

The under-pronator with a high arch needs a neutrally cushioned shoe that allows as much foot roll as naturally occurs during the stride.

› Shop Women's Cushioning Running Shoes
› Shop Men's Cushioning Running Shoes

3. Heel Drop and Footstrike

A key measurement of any running shoe is the heel-to-toe differential, or heel drop. This can range anywhere from 0 to 16+ mm. The higher the number, the more thickness and cushion in the heel.

Your footstrike determines the amount of heel cushion you need. Most runners strike heel first and require a conventional running shoe to effectively cushion the impact. Other runners choose to tailor their stride to strike at the midfoot or forefoot. Such a stride requires little to no heel cushion.

Measurement Heel Drop Footstrike
0-3 mm Zero-drop or flat shoe to give the barefoot feel. Not recommended for heel-first foot strikers.
4-8 mm Minimalist shoe with a hint of padding in heel. Not recommended for heel-first foot strikers. Perfect for midfoot or forefoot strikers.
9-12 mm Average heel drop for running shoes. Perfect for beginner runners and overpronators.
13-16 mm Maximum cushioning for running shoes. Recommended for heel-first strikers and underpronators.

4. Running Surface and Activity

Your activity and running surface affect what type of shoe you need.


When running on urban surfaces, you want a running shoe that is light and flexible.

› Shop Women's Road Running Shoes
› Shop Men's Road Running Shoes


These shoes offer a denser sole with extra stability and durability to protect from uneven terrain. Many trail shoes are waterproof.

› Shop Women's Trail Running Shoes
› Shop Men's Trail Running Shoes


These shoes offer durability from the first mile to the last and are lightweight and high-performance, designed for racing and speed--they often include features such as spikes and low heel drops for experienced runners.

› Shop Women's Competition Running Shoes
› Shop Men's Competition Running Shoes


These shoes designed for the transition between swimming and running. Triathlon shoes lace quickly and many can be worn with or without socks.

› Shop Women's Triathlon Running Shoes
› Shop Men's Triathlon Running Shoes

Running Shoe Fit Guide

Achieving the right fit in running shoes is essential to a long-lasting running routine. From the fit at the heel to the fit in the toe box and everything in between, will help you find the running shoe with the best fit for your stride. Whether your pronation is neutral or needs extra arch support and stability, this running shoe fit guide offers advice on which running shoes meet your needs.

Whether you are just starting a new fitness routine or are a seasoned running athlete, the running shoe fit guide will guide you to the best shoe to meet your running needs. Runners with a high arch and neutral pronation will appreciate finding well-cushioned running shoes like the GEL-Nimbus line from ASICS while runners with a low arch who tend to over pronate will enjoy discovering running shoes like the ProGrid Guide series from Saucony. Pronation matters and the running shoe fit guide will help you find the best running shoe to meet your pronation needs.

If you’re a runner who is committed to zero-drop running shoes with a barefoot running feel, or if you are just starting to explore a midfoot or forefoot running stride, the running shoe fit guide can help you learn and navigate different heel-to-toe differentials and what they mean. Whether you’re looking for a minimalist running shoe with a low heel drop or a conventional running shoe with maximum cushioning, the running shoe fit guide will help you discover the right shoe. From zero drop racing flats and minimalist shoes like the New Balance Minimus line to highly cushioned offerings like the Ghost line from Brooks, this running shoe fit guide will help you make the best decision.

Running success is achieved when the best goals are matched with the right running shoe. The running shoe fit guide will help you make a great match.