According to ACSM the characteristics of a "good, safe running shoe" are:
- Minimal heel to toe drop, 6mm or less whereas most traditional shoes have had 10+ mm. I agree that lower drop is good and most of my shoes are 4-10mm but when tired in a race I prefer 10mm or so. They do recommend a gradual transition to lower drops.
- Neutral. This is the big one and I totally agree. Stability and motion control shoes to control pronation, the drop of the foot inward have been a long time staple for many runners. "Pronation should occur and is a natural shock absorber...Stopping pronation with materials (stiffer foam, plastic pieces) may actually cause foot and knee problems...Excessive pronation can in most cases be corrected by therapy and exercises for the foot, leg, and hip rather than by the shoe".
- Light in weight: 10 oz or less for men's size 9, 8 oz or less for women's 8. Totally agree with this for road shoes. Trail shoes may weigh a bit more.
They warn to avoid high thick cushioning. I don't totally agree with this especially if the runner is doing many miles >30-40 per week and can afford more than one shoe. The "super cushioned" Hokas, Skechers Ultra, and the newer Altra shoes can provide great recovery benefit in my view and they can be a godsend for those with bad joints. A mix of shoe types, drops and terrains is best.
Orthotics or extra arch supports bought in stores should be considered temporary "until foot strength is increased."
Wide toe box to allow the foot to splay and toes to wiggle.
Avoid buying shoes based on foot shape, arch, or what the store folks observe when you walk.
Buy running shoes at the end of the day when your foot is most swollen.
Thanks to Camille Herron who is attempting to run a sub 2:50 marathon in all 50 states for recently posting the link to this brochure the Running Shoe Geeks group on Facebook