How to Select Best Running Shoes for Overweight People

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Running is a fantastic form of exercise for getting and staying fit, losing or maintaining weight and living a healthy lifestyle. However, running is one of the forms of activity that can cause severe strain on your joints if overdone or the incorrect ‘equipment’ i.e. shoes are used. Therefore, it is vital that runners wear the correct types of running shoes for their body type and weight. Whether you have a lean, muscular frame or are heavy-set, and perhaps carrying a bit of weight, running can be a safe and effective way of exercising providing you have the correct support in your shoes.

How is a ‘heavy’ runner defined?

Body weight is determined by a person’s body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of the amount of body fat an adult man or woman has. This calculation is based on their height and weight, and can be determined by a simple calculation. Generally, runners are considered to be heavy of they have a body mass index (BMI) of over 27 and while this is not a ‘perfect science’, it goes a long way to helping decide the correct type of running shoe for runners.

1. Dangers of running with extra weight- No matter what weight you are or body type you have, running can put an average of 1.5 to 3 times your total body weight of shock on the joints, particularly the knees. According to studies done by researchers at the University of Stanford in the United States, a runner’s knee takes up to eight times the force of the runner’s body weight with each step taken. Therefore, it is vital, particularly for heavier runners, to ensure that they are running with shoes that provide extra shock absorption and support for their joints.

2. Running form- With such additional shock placed on the joints, it’s very important to adopt a healthy running style, as well as wearing the correct shoes, as this can go a long way towards the prevention of injury. The best way to do this if you are starting from scratch is to visit a biokineticist or running specialist to carefully assess your body’s biomechanics and running form.

3. Pronation- Pronation can be described as your body’s way of shock absorption – it is the way your foot and ankle rolls when it hits the ground on every step. Pronation is directly related to the type of arch you have in your foot – high or low arch, or flat (no arch) and can cause severe knee problems if left unheeded. It is vital for larger runners with pronation issues to run in a shoe that gives added support and shock absorption where needed as this will help stabilize your gait and keep your knees healthy.  The easiest way to check whether you pronate is to take a look at your current shoes and see whether they are worn down more in one area than others. If the shoe is worn down on the outside edges of the sole, you are under-pronating, and if they are worn down on the inside of the sole, you are over-pronating. If there an ‘S’ shaped wear pattern from heel to toe, you have a normal pronation and will only need a neutral shoe.

4. Arch Support- Generally, heavier runners tend to have flat arches in their instep, which could lead to knee injuries and other types of discomfort when running. It is crucial to have your foot assessed and arch type determined as this will help in choosing the correct shoe for running. Orthotics or insoles can be added to neutral shoes to counteract any arch problems, however it is best to get the opinion of a running specialist when wanting to place orthotics in your running shoes, as the incorrect insole can lead to injury. Avoid ‘barefoot’ running shoes, as they have no support and cause heavier runners latent injuries.  

Top Five Shoes for Heavy Runners:

1. Brooks Glycerin 12

  • Neutral daily trainer
  • Lightweight
  • Added cushioning
  • Stability shoe
  • Good for high mileage

2.  Nike Air Zoom Structure 18

  • Good stability for overpronation
  • Lightweight
  • Stability shoe for flat feet
  • Good for high mileage

 3. Asics Cumulus 16

  • Neutral shoe – suitable for under-pronators
  • Breathable upper
  • Increased cushioning
  • Good for high mileage

 4. Nike LunarGlide 6

  • Lightweight stability shoe
  • Breathable, secure fit
  • Customized fit
  • Good for high mileage

 5. New Balance 1260 v4

  • Superior stability for overpronators
  • Extra heel-to-toe cushioning
  • Versatile trainer for low to high mileage