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A lot of people swear by them, a lot of people think they’re snake oil and they’re absolutely rubbish. 

There is some research that points to compression reducing the early onset of inflammation.

What’s the deal… compression socks or not… 

Let’s find out…

Compression Sock Myths

#1 Compression socks are only for people with varicose veins

Compression socks indeed help prevent spider veins and varicose veins, But compression socks are also for everyday wear. They’re intended to promote healthy circulation.

#2 Compression socks make you feel too hot

By improving circulation, compression socks provide great relief, as well as an immediate feeling of lightness.

#3 Compression socks are a nightmare to get on

Today, new technology and materials make compression socks more comfortable and functional. Some specific standard techniques and tricks make it easy to put them on and take them off.

The Benefits Of Compression Socks

A lot of people report that they’re not nearly as sore if they run longer distances wearing compression socks. 

There’s also evidence that post-exercise pain is not as bad if you use compression socks. It’s supposed to also help with circulation.

As I always say to people though, it does come with a warning.

If you are susceptible to something called Compartment Pressure Syndrome or if when you run you do tend to experience quite tight burning calves. Often compression socks don’t help, they make it worse. 

It’s one of those things that you’ve got to try, if it feels good and it’s working for you, then roll with it. 

As a recovery modality, there is evidence from some Japanese researchers that show that if we stunt the inflammation process too much, it is slowing down our short-term improvements because the reaction of our body to repair some of that damage makes us stronger and better able to participate or to improve going into the future.

A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that wearing compression socks for 48 hours after a marathon improved performance by 2.6% two weeks after the race.

Will Compression Socks Help Keep You Injury Free?

You might be wondering if it would be advisable to try a pair of compression socks out… to help prevent possible injuries.

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, or maybe they will help with recovery and perhaps even improved performance. 

There’s undoubtedly tons of evidence about how well compression garments work and how much better people feel, particularly calf sleeves, compression tights, and compression boots.

So it’s worth trying out. 

Compression socks apply pressure on your ankles and calves. The soft squeeze on the bottom of your circulatory system helps support your veins as they send blood back up to your heart.

You might be surprised to hear that if you go into Europe, particularly on the triathlon scene, it’s much harder to spot people who aren’t wearing compression gear than it is to spot compression gear.

Whether it’s a gimmick or not, that’s hard to say. I haven’t come across any hard scientific evidence, but certainly, loads of athletes have said they feel miles better when they run in compression garments. So it’s worth trying out.

What You Should Be Aware Of When Trying Compression Socks

As we mentioned above, some people are susceptible to a condition known as compartment pressure syndrome, where the muscle swells up and gets hard. You lose a bit of function, associated with numbness, and those people tend, or should I say that compression gear tends to worsen those symptoms.

But, if it’s going well and you’re injury-free and enjoying your running, it’s still worth trying. 

Research shows that compression socks do help muscles feel better and have less muscle damage, they provide support over the long term.  

Worth a try, very unlikely to cause harm, unless you are one of those that are predisposed to compartmental pressure syndrome. 

  • But if that happens, then you just don’t use the compression gear.

There’s enough evidence in the literature to show that wearing compression gear after running helps speed up recovery. So even if you can’t run in them or you don’t like running in them, you can use them after your training.

Compression Socks And Shin Splints

You may be surprised to hear this, but the truth is, compression socks can aid in the recovery of shin splints and be used as a preventative measure. 

Some compression socks are better to use while running, while others are designed for recovery. 

It’s important to note that they will not cure any condition if the only thing you are doing to help your injury is wearing compression socks. 

All injuries should be assessed so that the real cause can be addressed.

How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints

Shin splints are normally caused by one of the muscles that are running down the tibia. Typically it is the medial or inside of the shin that normally hurts.

The connective tissues between the muscle and the shin become inflamed and it starts to pull away from the shin, causing shin pain. 

That is the pain that you are feeling. 

(Side note: extreme levels of pressure and tightness may indicate compartment syndrome)

There is, therefore, pressure running through the tibia…

If we don’t treat it and you keep running through the pain, shin splints will ultimately turn into a pre-stress fracture (which is a little bit of bony oedema and bleeding on the actual bone).

To heal shin splints from the acute phase can take anywhere in the region of 48 hours to two weeks, depending on how far you pushed yourself into the pain.

To ease your pain in less time and prevent further trouble, you can wear compression socks as they boost blood circulation, support your veins, and reduce swelling but we recommend you also see a physiotherapist.

Get Rid Of Shin Splints FAST: 4 Simple Steps To Pain-Free Running

Do Shin Splints Go Away The More You Run?

A major issue with shin splints is people tend to ignore the pain.

Pain is a signal from your body telling you something isn’t right…

Runners think it will get better as they get a little bit fitter but that is generally not the case. This is why people often end up with quite a serious case of shin splints.

The good news is, that even if it is serious, it shouldn’t take more than two weeks to deal with the actual pain.

Who Should Not Wear Compression Socks?

Compression socks aren’t for everyone, and research suggests that using them incorrectly can be harmful.

Here are some potential risks to be aware of:

  • Can cut off your circulation if they aren’t fitted properly.
  • Can chafe and bruise your legs if you have dry skin.
  • Can cause itching, redness, and irritation if not fitted correctly.

Top 5 Compression Socks Comparison 2022 (In no particular order)

Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves – $40

  • Wear them after your activity as the perfect recovery leg sleeve.
  • Calf support and injury prevention for the lower leg
  • Improve circulation and faster muscle recovery
  • Sun and UV Protection
  • Moisture-wicking and anti-odor

Feetures Graduated Compression Socks – $45.00

  • Targeted Compression and anatomical design provide an unmatched Custom-Like Fit.
  • Anatomical right and left foot designs enhance fit, delivering maximum comfort and protection by helping to eliminate blisters.
  • High-density cushioning provides cushioned comfort without the bulk.

Run Forever Sports Calf Compression Sleeves – $17.99

  • Enhanced blood circulation as a result of improved venous return which improves blow flow of oxygen-rich blood.
  • The non-slip cuff and seamless construction create the perfect fit
  • Made with premium material so they are built to last
  • Keeps muscles warm and loose so you can maximize performance

Swiftwick Aspire Twelve – $23.99 

  • The thin profile is designed to fit into any technical shoe with a barely-there feel.
  • Firmly hugs the contours of your feet to support the arch and help reduce fatigue.
  • Built to provide maximum breathability with signature fibers that wick-moisture, keeping your feet cool, dry, and blister-free.

Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks – $17.99

  • Inexpensive
  • Gradient compression

Hang around any running club long enough and the talk will invariably turn to running shoes. Much of the banter will be about whether or not you need cushioned shoes or if custom orthotics are the way to go…

…But all the talk revolves around one term and that is pronation.

On that note, let’s have a detailed look at pronation, overpronation and supination.

What Is Pronation?

Pronation refers to the natural movement of the foot rolling inwards when you walk or run.

Your gait determines whether you have a neutral pronation if you overpronate or underpronate (also known as supination).

If you overpronate or supinate it puts more stress on certain areas in the feet & leg, which increases your risk of injury.

Different types of shoes can help support your feet if you find that you are overpronating or supinating and it’s causing you pain.

Neutral Pronation

Neutral pronation defines the natural inward roll of the foot when it strikes the ground. 

Pronation helps absorb the shock of landing on the ground when you walk or run and keeps the ankles and legs aligned. 

If your foot doesn’t pronate, the shock of every step would impact the mechanisms of your lower legs.

During neutral/normal pronation, the arch of your foot will flatten as the heel lands on the ground. Your weight is then shifted to the outer side of the foot and then transfers to the big toe.

Your foot will then roll outward, the arch will lift and stiffen and all of the toes will push off and provide stability. 

With a neutral pronation, the sole of the foot will directly face backwards and is not tilted inward or outward.

Pronation also helps to stabilise the body on different types of terrain by adjusting the way the foot lands on different terrain.

If you have neutral pronation you can generally run in any neutral running shoes which provide support and cushioning specifically designed for a neutral gait.

Overpronation

This occurs when the foot rolls excessively inward when you walk or run. 

Overpronation puts more weight on the inner side of the foot and also puts a greater strain on the big toe and the second toe. 

This distribution of weight destabilizes the foot and in turn, affects other biomechanics of the leg.

The excessive twisting or rotating happening in the foot and ankle when you overpronate causes the tibia also rotates more than it should. This causes knee pain and shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome).

One of the most successful ways of preventing overpronation is to wear stability running shoes. These motion control shoes offer a lot of support and structured cushioning.

Stability running shoes generally have firm cushioning along the inner side of the shoe where the foot arches to provide extra arch support. This cushioning helps to prevent the excessive inward rolling of the foot that occurs with overpronation.

Supination (Underpronation)

Supination, or underpronation, occurs when the foot rolls along the outer side of the foot when you walk or run. 

With neutral pronation, the foot naturally supinates as the heel lifts off the ground and the pressure is then rolled across the toes before the foot lifts.

However, when supination occurs, more pressure is put on the outer, smaller toes instead of the big toe and the second toe.

People who supinate usually have higher arches that don’t flatten sufficiently when the heel strikes the ground. 

It also correlates with certain running injuries, such as plantar fasciitis, ankle injuries, Achilles tendonitis, and iliotibial band syndrome.

Runners with supination should choose a pair of neutral running shoes with lots of cushioning as supinators are particularly susceptible to shock-related injuries and commonly get stress fractures. 

Extra cushioning in the running shoes will help absorb some of the impact from running or walking.

How To Choose Running Shoes

Whether you pronate, overpronate or supinate, making sure you run in the correct running shoes is important if you’d like to stay injury-free. 

This is how to make sure you’re in the right shoe:

How To Determine Your Level Of Pronation

Figuring out whether you overpronate, supinate or have a neutral pronation is essential for choosing the right pair of running or walking shoes. 

There are four ways to self diagnose your level of pronation but if you are unsure you can get assessed at a speciality running store.

  1. The wear test

The most common method of determining your level of pronation is the wear test. If you have a look at the soles of your old or current running shoes, you should be able to identify the way your foot is landing.

Overpronators will find more wear on the inner side of the foot and the ball of your feet towards the big toe. Supinators will see more wear down on the outer side of the shoe and people with neutral pronation should see an even distribution of wear along the centre of the shoe.

  1. The wet foot test 

You can analyze your footprint by doing the wet foot test. Wet your foot in some water and then step onto a piece of cardboard. You should be able to tell how your foot lands by the thickness level of the area in between the ball and the heel of the foot. If the line is very thin, it’s a sign of supination, whereas if it’s very thick, you are overpronating.

  1. Shoe tilt

Take a pair of shoes that you wear regularly, they can be running shoes, trainers, or boots, and put them on a flat surface with the heels facing you. If you notice the heels tilt inward as a result of wear along the inner side of the shoe, you are likely an overpronator. If they tilt outwards due to wear along the outer edges of the shoe, you are more likely to be a supinator.

  1. Professional assessment

If you go to a good quality running shoe store, or a specialist practitioner such as a podiatrist you can ask for a foot or assessment from an expert. Someone who’s been trained to identify the different levels of pronation and recommend the best shoes for that type and level.

You can bring your old pair of running shoes with you so that they can analyze the wear themselves and make a more informed diagnosis. They will also usually ask you to walk or run so that they can see how you move for themselves and that they can do an extensive gait analysis.

Is It Overkill To Run With a Stability Shoe & Orthotics?

While cases are always individual and hard to comment on without seeing the client in person, there are common mistakes that are made…

Say, for example, you’ve always run with orthotics in a neural shoe as you’re a flat-footed pronator. 

Then you changed to a stability shoe and continue to insert the orthotics, coupled with extensive strength training as a desperate attempt to curb your ITB. 

Now you’re asking yourself if it is overkill to run with a stability shoe and orthotics…

The fact that this is an injury that is not clearing up and sounds like it’s potentially gotten worse by the latest change. 

Taking all those things into account and obviously, the experience that I have gained over the last decade in terms of dealing with ITB, I see a lot of common mistakes here.

So, probably the last place I would look for a causal relationship with ITB is foot mechanics. 

The last thing that will cause ITB is pronation. 

So, ITB is actually a supination injury. 

To try to simplify it a little bit, if you pronate and much more important than that if you pronate excessively because pronation is normal, it is our body’s first line of defence, it’s our first line of shock absorption.

Pronation would create pain on the inside not outside of the foot/leg.

If you go and stick an orthotic or put on a shoe that is going to disrupt that pronation, you’re actually disrupting your body’s first line of defence against the impact of running.

So, we really need to be clear that we are excessively pronating and that that excessive pronation is causing us problems.

If we excessively pronate, we are far more likely to get pain or discomfort on the inside of the knee, not on the outside of the lateral aspect where we get ITB. 

That’s the first and very important thing to establish. Similarly, being flat-footed, particularly if you spent a youth without shoes, is quite normal and it’s very normal for our ancestors to have extremely flat feet.

Again, for me, putting in anything or wearing shoes to compensate for flat feet is really,’ a crazy notion and if your feet are so flat-footed that they’re causing you problems, you will have foot pain on the inside of the foot or ankle and on the inside of the knee, not the outside.

I think it’s really important to be absolutely 100% sure that we need orthotics – full stop. 

Orthotics are pushing you to the outside, and motion control shoes are pushing you to the outside. You should pretty much never have a situation where you have orthotics and a motion control shoe. 

Orthotics should only ever be in a neutral shoe and only when it’s really, really required.

Tight muscles, not orthotics causing your ITB problem…

In my opinion, ITB, almost always, is something that is causing stress on the outside. Adding orthotic in motion control shoe increases stress to the outside, so I don’t see a solution to the problem there.

More often than not, the problem lies with tight hip flexes, weak glutes and potentially tight glutes, but because of modern lifestyles, people driving so much, people sitting at their desks. I always look at numbers one and two, tight hip flexes, and weak glutes because of how much we sit.

Unfortunately, that often presents as a tight glute. This is because if you have very tight hip flexes, when you stand up, you don’t walk around bent over like you’re bowing to everybody you see. 

The pressure of that tight hip flexor has to go somewhere and it normally goes into the femur, we have a slight internal rotation of that femur which then tightens up the glute and then people go, oh, tight glute.

So we stretch the glute, but by overstretching the glute we make them even weaker. This means that there’s an even more of an internal rotation from the femur. 

If you really stretch those hip flexors, do a lot of strengthening on the glute and then do some stretching on the glute, but don’t overdo it, if you tackle those things, then you normally will take care of ITB.

If you’re a runner, a nature lover, and lucky enough to live near some beautiful mountain ranges, ocean cliffs, deep green forests, or arid deserts then the chances are pretty high that you own a pair of trail running shoes. 

Running on the road is more fast-paced and makes for a much more consistent forward movement. If you, like most runners, prefer to get up in the morning and conveniently head out your door for a run around your neighborhood, then the chances are pretty high that you own a pair of road running shoes.

Road running shoes and trail running shoes both have their key differences, these are there to ensure you are capable of making your way on the differing terrains. In order to do so, your shoes need to protect your feet and provide traction & stability. 

If you were to hold a trail running shoe up next to a road running shoe you would easily notice a few differences between the two, let’s have a deeper look into those differences…

Primary Differences Between Trail & Road Running Shoes

Trail Running ShoesRoad Running Shoes
Thick uppersBreathable uppers
Stability featuresFewer stability features
HeavyLightweight
Gusseted TongueDifferent Tongue Styles
Darker ColorsDifferent Colours Available
Protected Toe BoxBreathable Toe Box
Stickier Rubber Outsole Smooth, Blown Rubber Outsole 
Stiffer MidsolesFlexible Midsoles
Rock PlateNo Rock Plate

So, we’ve established that there are quite a lot of differences between trail runners and road runners, but what do they all mean exactly?

Shoe Outsole

Road Vs Trail: Outsoles Of Shoes

One of the first and most visible differences between trail and road running shoes is in the outsoles. These are the bottom of the shoes. 

Trail running shoes have large lugs, big teeth, and a stickier rubber for improved traction on dirt, mud, and rocks.  It’s better to match your shoes to the surface you’ll be running on as the size and shape of the lugs depend on the type of terrain. 

Road running shoes are meant to help you to push off even surfaces quickly and efficiently. They have flatter soles that create a consistent surface to run on pavements and tar roads. 

Road Vs Trail: Stability Of Shoes

Both types of shoes have stability features, these are there to provide your feet, and ankles with protection and are usually along the sides and under your foot. 

Trail running shoes generally have more stability features compared to road running shoes, this is because trail running shoes need to withstand harsher terrains, jumping over roots, gritty dirt, and sharp rocks.

Road Vs Trail: Weight Of Shoes

Road running shoes aim to be as light as possible, this will result in faster running times, less energy expenditure, improved biomechanics, and an overall boost in stride efficiency. Trail running shoes are heavier than road runners, to be able to provide protection and support.

Based on the research I did, trail runners seem to come in 3 categories.

For light trails:

These are the lighter trail running shoes, these provide support on well-maintained trails but still contain the elements that make this shoe a trail running shoe. 

For rugged trails:

These trail runners are a bit chunkier, they can withstand loads of different types of terrains and are therefore a bit heavier.  

Off-trail:

These are the type of trail shoes for the extreme trail runners, these can withstand the rockiest terrains and slipperiest forest floors, no trial required. These shoes are probably as heavy as trail running shoes get.

(Most running shoes nowadays can hardly be called “heavy” anyways, we’re lucky to live in a time where technology is so advanced that none of us have to be running in clunky, chunky boots)

Road Vs Trail: Shoe Tongue

The tongue is the piece of your shoe that sits under the laces.
The purpose of a tongue is to protect the top of the foot and to stop your laces from rubbing against the top of your foot.

Trail running shoe tongue:  A gusseted tongue is attached to both sides of the shoe to keep water, rocks, and sand from sliding through your laces and into your shoe. Some trail running shoes also have a burrito tongue, which is only connected on one side. Burrito tongues are easier to get on and off.

Road running shoe tongue: This ‘normal’ type of tongue moves up and out to allow your foot to slide into the shoe.

Road Vs Trail: Toe Box Of Shoes

The toe box of running shoes, in general, is important as it covers and protects the toes.
Toe boxes vary according to the type of shoe, they should always be wide enough and long enough to accommodate the toes comfortably and safely.

Road running shoe toe boxes are minimal, lightweight, and as breathable as possible. 

Trail running shoe toe boxes are often wider and covered in a protective layer of rubber. Trail running shoes also often have toe bumpers to protect toes from those rocks and roots that tend to pop up out of nowhere. 

Road Vs Trail: Shoe Midsoles

Placed between the outsole and the upper sole, the midsole plays an important role in providing your foot with shock absorption, flex support, and cushioning. 

The midsole of a trail running shoe is generally stiffer to provide more support on trails and rockier surfaces. Some trail-running shoes even include rock plates between the midsoles and outsoles that add extra protection against sharp objects.

The height difference between the heels and toes (the drop) varies hugely between all types of shoes. The difference is based on how the shoes are made to perform as well as personal preference.

It’s important to note that your anatomy also plays a big part in which size drop best suits you. 

Road running shoe midsoles are not as stiff as trail running shoes but they still need to provide some cushion protection to the feet from the hard pounding on roads or pavements.  

Road Vs Trail: Shoe Uppers

The upper of a shoe consists of all the sections of the shoe above the sole.

Trail shoe uppers are reinforced with synthetic overlays in key spots to protect the shoes and your feet. These key spots are around the toes, heels, and sides of the shoes.  Some uppers on trail shoes have gaiter attachment points and lace pockets (to stuff your shoelaces into). Some even have a waterproof coating which is also a big added benefit.   (Bear in mind that some waterproof shoes are nice for wet conditions but won’t drain out easily) 

Road running shoe uppers don’t need much reinforcement and instead have lots of mesh to keep the shoes lightweight and breathable.

There is no single running shoe that is perfect for everyone. So how do you find the shoe that is perfect for you?  

Let’s dive into how to choose the perfect pair of road running shoes…

How To Choose a Pair Of Road Running Shoes

  • Choose The Right Type of Road Running Shoe
  • Get The Right Fit
  • Understand What You’re Paying For
  • Know The Lingo
  • Wear Your Running Socks

Choose The Right Type Of Running Shoe

Your running shoes should be chosen based on the kind of running you intend to do. 

In terms of road running shoes, you could look at buying an everyday running shoe that can handle all the running most people do, this would be a more versatile option. Or you could opt for a lightweight running shoe, this would obviously be for faster training sessions or races. 

Get The Right Fit

The most important factor to consider when buying road running shoes is how well they fit. 

A road running shoe that doesn’t fit well will lead to injury and make your running experience painful.

When trying on your road running shoes consider these tips: 

  • There should be one thumb’s width between the end of your foot and the end of your shoe to make room for foot spread and to stop your feet from swelling on downhill runs. 
  • Make sure to try your potential road running shoes on at the end of the day, this is because feet swell throughout the day, just as they do when you run.

Understand What You’re Paying For

You don’t have to buy the most expensive road running shoes to enjoy a run.

A more expensive shoe normally correlates with better comfort features and more technology whereas a very inexpensive shoe may mean that it isn’t designed to handle the running demands. 

Some research suggests that according to most runners, inexpensive running shoes are higher rated compared to expensive ones.

Know The Terminology

Heel-toe drop:

The difference between the amount of material under the heel and the amount of material under the forefoot of a running shoe.

Pronation Control:

Running shoes can be classified as either neutral or stability shoes.
Neutral running shoes offer the largest selection and are best for 80% of runners.

Stability running shoes contain technology that is designed to correct overpronation. (when the ankle rolls excessively inward with each step)

Check out this video where Coach Lindsey and Brad talk about running shoe basics & whether or not you should be running in neutral or stability running shoes: Click here

Stack Height:

Stack height refers to the amount of material between your foot and the ground.
These can range from minimally cushioned to highly cushioned. 

Wear Your Running socks:

By trying on your shoes with the same running socks that you plan to wear on your runs, you have a better chance of ensuring the perfect fit.

Now that you know what to look for when buying a pair of road running shoes. We’ve put together a male and female comparison of the top five road running shoes of 2022. 

Top 5 Male Road Running Shoes 2022

NameTypeWeightHeel-Toe DropKey FeaturesCategoryPriceLink 
ASICS GEL-Nimbus 24Long-distance training10.2 oz10 mmThe upper’s soft engineered mesh and flexible midfoot panel make these shoes more comfortable during long runs.Neutral$160.00Here 
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38Daily training & road racing10 oz10 mmNike React foam is lightweight, springy, and durable. More foam means better cushioning without the bulk.Neutral$158.77Here 
Hoka Mach 4Designed for logging long miles8.60 oz5.00mmExtended heel designed for a smooth, stable run.Neutral$130.00Here 
Brooks Glycerin GTS 19Ultimate comfort for your run 10.6oz10mmGuideRails holistic support system: Innovative technology supports your whole body in its natural stride while keeping excess movement in check.Stability$150,00Here 
Altra RiveraDaily runs and occasional races9.1 oz  0 mmAltra EGO midsole, a neutral Innerflex outsole for flexibility and performance.Neutral$129.95Here 

Top 5 Female Road Running Shoes 2022

NameTypeWeightHeel-Toe DropKey FeaturesCategoryPriceLink 
Brooks Ghost 14Road training and racing8.99 oz12mmThe updated midsole is now 100% DNA LOFT cushioning for an even softer, smoother run.Neutral$140.00Here 
Saucony Endorphin Speed 2From speed work to longer runs, from workouts to race day7.0 oz 8mm XT-900 outsole with reinforced high-abrasion zones provides optimal traction and durability.Neutral$160.00Here 
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38For everyday miles or  long runs8.9 0z10mmBreathable mesh in the upper combines the comfort and durability you want with a wider fit at the toes.Neutral$130.00Here 
Asics GT 2000 10 Functional for various distances8.4 oz8mmIs made for neutral and overpronation.Stability$130.00Here 
Altra Torin 5.0 Long-distance running7.3 oz0mmThe improved heel collar helps keep you locked in for a secure step cycle.Neutral$150.00Here 

Just like road running shoes, there is no single trail running shoe that is perfect for everyone. 

It can be hard to know where to begin when choosing your trail running shoes… 

Here are some guidelines to make the process easier.

How To Choose a Pair Of Trail Running Shoes

  • Shoe Type
  • Cushioning/ Stack Height
  • Heel-To-Toe Drop
  • Lug Length
  • Shoe Weight
  • Price

Shoe Type

Choosing trail running shoes starts by assessing the type of trails you plan to run on. 

Trail-running shoes fall within three categories:

  • Light Trail: Shoes made for light trails will be the closest in weight and build to road-running shoes. They provide some protection from rocks and are lightweight to maintain a brisk pace.
  • Rugged Trail: Shoes made for the broadest spectrum of terrains. They offer a lot more underfoot protection and support.
  • Off Trail: Shoes made for where the man fears to treadoff-trail. They offer aggressive outsoles and an enhanced structure for protection over extremely versatile terrains. 

Cushioning/ Stack Height

Cushioning level or stack height has been drastically changed over the last few years, shoes with no padding (zero drop) and shoes with massively cushioned midsoles have revolutionized the industry.   

The cushioning spectrum offers you a wide range of options from barefoot shoes (no-padding shoes), minimal shoes (good option for runners wanting a better feel), moderate shoes (traditional trail runners) to maximum shoes (heaps of padding in the midsole).

Heel-To-Toe Drop

Barefoot shoes have a 0 mm drop, Minimalist shoes typically have a drop of 0 to 4mm, moderate and maximalist shoes offer a wide range of heel-to-toe drops.

Considerations when choosing a heel-to-toe drop:

  • A low heel drop encourages a midfoot or forefoot strike. 
  • Match the drop of your current running shoes. (If you don’t have running shoes, look at your other shoes.)
  • Take it slow If you are considering changing to barefoot shoes.

Lug Length

You will want your trail running shoes to have grippy soles to navigate uneven terrains. 

It’s important to look at the type of terrain you plan to run on before deciding on your lug length. If the terrain you plan on running in is mostly covered with stones and hard dirt, a short lug pattern will be perfect. If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain then for muddy & soft surfaces you’ll need a deeper lug pattern.

Shoe Weight

Trail running shoes should be as light as possible while still offering the protection you desire. 

There’s no worse feeling than having to lift heavier shoes over the course of a long run… your legs begin to feel like dead weight!

Price

More expensive doesn’t always mean better. 

Judge the trail running shoe you are thinking of buying by what it offers, not the price tag. 

Now that you know what to look for when buying your trail running shoes before you hit the shops and jump onto the trails, have a look at these male and female trail running shoe comparisons of 2022.

Top 5 Male Trail Running Shoes 2022

NameTypeWeightHeel-Toe DropKey FeaturesCategoryPriceLink 
Saucony Peregrine 11 Any type of rugged terrain10 oz4mmAggressive lugs made of PWRTRAC tacky rubber conform to dig in and confidently grip a wide variety of terrains.Neutral$94.95Here 
Altra Lone Peak 6All-terrain10.6 oz0mmGrippy MaxTrac outsole with TrailClaw canted lugs designed to keep you going.Neutral$139,95Here 
Inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G 300 MaxFor Ultra trail running10.5 oz6mmFeaturing the world’s first Graphene-enhanced foam, called G-FLY.Neutral$190.00 Here 
Brooks Cascadia 16  All-terrain10.5 oz8mmBallistic Rock Shield now includes vertical grooves to provide side-to-side adaptabilities.Neutral$130,00Here 
Salomon Speedcross 5 Muddy and soft terrains11.6 oz10mmLug design with deep penetration and multi-directional grip, improving traction on soft surfaces like mud or loose dirt.Neutral$150,00Here 

Top 5 Female Trail Running Shoes 2022

NameTypeWeightHeel-Toe DropKey FeaturesCategoryPriceLink 
Topo Athletic Ultraventure 2  For technical trails8.3 oz5mmAn internal microfiber belt wraps the midfoot and is combined with an external TPU heel counter to secure and lock the foot in over the platform. Neutral$135.00Here 
Saucony Peregrine 11All-terrain9.5 oz 4mmThe new ultralight, durable top layer adds durability to the comfortable air mesh bootie so nothing snags your speed.Neutral$94.95Here 
Brooks CatamountLong-distance trail running9.7 oz6mmA raised tread pattern and our unique TrailTack rubber make it easier to grip the ground when traveling uphill or downhill. Neutral$160,00 Here 
Women’s Trans Alps™ F.K.T.™ IIIFor mountain trails9.25 oz5-8mmContains a full-length puncture-resistant rubber outsole.Neutral$77.90 Here 
MERRELL MTL LONG SKY  For long runs in rugged mountain terrain.9.8 oz8mmMade of a lightweight, tear-resistant fabric, a medial post, and an aggressive Vibram® MegaGrip rubber soleStability$104,00 Here 

Now that you have a clear breakdown of the different types of trail running shoes, you might be asking yourself, if it’s possible to run on the road with your trail running shoes, or is it possible to run on trails with your road running shoes… 

Using Your Trail Running Shoes On The Road

As we have mentioned above, trail running shoes offer protection, stability, and more importantly traction, which is what is needed when running on rugged & versatile terrains. 

Trail shoes are safe to wear on your road runs because they do provide the stability and support that is required. One may find their trail running shoes to be too heavy/ clunky, which could affect the road running speed, this is when having specific road running shoes would be a better option. 

Let’s look at this scenario from the opposite direction…

Using Your Road Running Shoes On a Trail

Based on numerous studies, including the data above, we advise against running in your road running shoes on trails. This is because road running shoes are designed for running fast on pavements & roads. They aren’t designed to provide the level of protection needed for your feet on trails. 

It Is Possible To Have Both In One Shoe

There is a type of shoe that is growing more and more in demand with runners who love both trail and road running, It performs equally well on roads and trails and is called a hybrid shoe.

Hybrid Shoes

Hybrid shoes are for people who want to run trails some days and on the road on other days, or even for people who run a combination of road and trail all in one run. 

Running shoe companies like Asics, Brooks, The North Face, and Salomon have made trail running shoes that contain characteristics that make them run well on-road and pavements too.

Whether you have decided to get some trail running shoes, hybrids, or road running shoes, these tips on how to care for your new/current shoes are going to ensure you get the most mileage out of them as possible. 

Check it out: Here

With all the different types, designs, brands and styles of running shoes, it can take hours of research and trying on multiple pairs before you finally decide on the right running shoes for you…

…then once you’ve bought your pristine new shoes, you want to make them last for as long as possible – especially since quality running shoes can cost a pretty penny!

However, running in worn-out shoes can actually lead to a running injury so knowing when to swap out your old shoes for a new pair is very important.

After you’ve been running in your shoes for quite a while, they’ll start to show signs of wear and tear.

These will be things like poor shock absorption, worn tread, they’ll feel flat and you might experience pain while running.

If you start to notice these signs of wear, it’s time to start looking for a new pair of running shoes.

How many miles should you get out of running shoes?

No two runners are exactly the same, but this is more or less many miles you should be getting out of your running shoes:

The general rule of thumb is that you should get between 800 to 1000 kilometres or 500 to 650 miles out of a pair of running shoes. So when you hit that 800km or 500 miles mark, you know you should start shopping. However, the mileage you get out of a pair of running shoes also depends on your weight and how you run.

Let’s dig into what that means in a bit more detail…

If you’re on the heavier runner or have poor biomechanics, then you should probably look at changing your running shoes after about 600km’s or 400 miles.

Most women runners are lighter than men so their shoes will also tend to last a bit longer and they should get closer to 1000km’s or 650 miles on them.

The type of terrain or surface you run on will also impact how long a pair of running shoes will last.

If you run mostly on roads or treadmills, your shoes should last longer than if you enjoy frequent trail runs.

The rugged terrain will cause more damage and wear on your shoes because of its uneven surface.

Pro Tip: Listen to this podcast to hear how long a pair of running shoes should last for…

When to replace your running shoes

You may be asking yourself “When should I replace my running shoes?”

There are five factors that should be taken into consideration and will determine when you should replace your running shoes:

  1. High Mileage – How many miles have you run in your shoes?
  2. Poor Shock Absorbtion – Are your running shoes ‘feeling flat’?
  3. Aches & Pains – Are certain joints and muscles starting to flare up?
  4. Worn Tread – Are the bottoms of your running shoes wearing out?
  5. Uneven Wear – Is a certain part of your shoe wearing out more than other parts?

That’s a basic summary, so let’s dig into them in a bit more detail…

High mileage

When you buy a new pair of shoes you should take note of the date or even write it on the inside of your shoe so that you can track your mileage in them.

A lot of running apps, like Strava for example, also allow you to track running shoe mileage. Then you’ll know when you start edging towards the 800km or 500 mile mark and can start looking for a new pair.

If you take good care of your running shoes, then you should be able to push the mileage closer to 1000km or 650 miles if they’re not worn out yet.

Poor shock absorption

The shock absorption of your running shoes gets worse the older they are and the more you run in them. This is because the cushioning and support gets worn down over time.

When it’s time to replace your shoes, you’ll find that you feel a lot of impact and compounding in your legs as your feet strike the ground. This is not good for your legs and could cause pain if you’re used to running with cushioning.

If you don’t have a perfect foot strike, a worn-out midsole also makes the shoes less stable and ineffective in providing proper support for overpronators or supinators.

If you can bend the toe of your running shoe to the collar of its heel then it’s time for a new pair. Running shoes should not have that kind of flexibility so it shows that the midsole has been significantly worn down.

You experience aches and pains when running

If your muscles start to feel tight or fatigued and you experience more shin splints and joint pain, it’s probably time to upgrade to a new pair of running shoes. If the pain you feel is caused by your worn-out shoes, you’ll feel it on both sides/legs as your running shoes will get worn down evenly.

However, if you’re feeling pain in a new pair of shoes, it’s possible that you need a different type of shoe with more or less support, cushioning, drop etc. You can go to a speciality running store and ask an expert for advice if you’re not sure.

Worn tread

One of the most significant ways to tell if you need new running shoes is to look at the tread of your current pair. In other words, the way your shoes wear.

The soles of running shoes last longer than the cushioning so if your tread is gone, you’re definitely overdue for a new pair. The tread provides traction on the ground so if it’s worn down you’ll be more prone to injury, especially if it has worn down only in specific spots (due to the way you run).

The unbalanced tread is also very risky to run on as it could cause you to alter your running gait slightly, which may lead to injury.

Uneven wear

If you notice that your shoes have worn unevenly and certain parts of the shoe are more worn out than others, then it’s possible that you may have a problem with your gait or some sort of biomechanical issue.

If you find excessive wear along the outer sides of your shoes, you’re probably under pronating and if you find more wear along the inner sides, you’re overpronating. (We’ve written an extensive post on pronation, overpronation and supination that will help you figure this out. You can read that post here)

Different types of running shoes can help provide the right kind of support needed for different levels of pronation so you may need to look into buying a different type of running shoe. 

Getting expert advice from a running speciality store can go a long way to fixing this. The video below goes into a lot more detail on how to get more miles out of your running shoes…

How to get more miles out of your running shoes

Although you want to change your running shoes regularly, there are a few things you can do to extend the life of your running shoes…

  1. Own more than one pair of running shoes
  2. Only wear your running shoes when you run
  3. Put them on and take them off correctly
  4. Wash your shoes (by hand, never in a washing machine)
  5. Dry your shoes (Never in a dryer)

Following those 5 steps will prolong the life of your running shoes and save you money in the long run. This is why:

Own more than one pair of running shoes

If you can, it’s a good idea to have at least two pairs of running shoes at a time that you alternate between. This distributes the stress of all your running between two pairs so that they last longer.

Alternating also gives the cushioning, or EVA foam, in your shoes time to decompress and return to its natural shape. When you run, the foam decompresses from the impact so allowing some time in between your next run in that pair of shoes will allow the foam to decompress and dry out so that it can provide the correct amount of cushioning and shock absorption that it’s supposed to.

Another benefit of running in two pairs of shoes is that if you have two slightly different types of running shoe, your muscles will work slightly differently which will help keep you from straining or fatiguing them.

Only wear your running shoes when going running

Because running shoes are so comfy and versatile (and you probably paid a hefty sum for them), it’s tempting to simply wear them as you go about your day.

However, doing this will wear out your shoes quicker. So if you like to wear running shoes all day then hang on to your old pair as they are still suitable for walking around, or, if you can afford to, simply buy a pair that’s main purpose is everyday wear.

Put them on and take them off the right way

Before and after runs, it can be convenient to simply slip or pull your feet in and out of your running shoes without untying the laces. This will end up stretching your shoes and breaking down the heel so make sure you always undo the laces when putting your shoes on and taking them off.

Wash your shoes

If you want to wash your running shoes, do not put them into a washing machine as the cycle will cause damage to your shoes. It’s always a better idea to hand wash them and scrub them clean with an old toothbrush or something.

If you do want to wash them in your washing machine, make sure you put it on a cold, gentle cycle as hot water will damage the glue holding the running shoes together and significantly decrease their lifespan.

Dry your shoes

If your running shoes get wet from a wash, rain, wet terrain or even sweat, it’s very important to dry them out properly. Never put your shoes in a dryer because it will cause a lot of damage.

A quick trick for helping your shoes air dry is to stuff some newspaper or paper towels into them and leave them to dry overnight. Newspaper is great at absorbing moisture and wicking it away from the shoes so it will help your shoes dry faster.

Pro Tip: In this podcast, we cover how much mileage you should get as a heavier runner doing a large volume of running: