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The one thing that actually matters when choosing running shoes

Top running shoesGood news: that high-tech gait analysis you keep forgetting to schedule before getting a new pair of running shoes may not be worth your time, anyway.

According to a new review of scientific research reported in the New York Times, there’s really only one thing that matters when it comes to choosing the best running shoes: comfort.

The review looked at decades of studies on running injuries, sneakers, and the relationship between them and found that choosing shoes based on the two criteria most orthopedists and shoe specialists rely on—pronation and impact force—does not prevent injuries (and in some studies actually led to more).

The only time studies showed injury rates reduced by shoe choice was when participants chose kicks that just felt the most comfortable on their feet. Comfort, it turns out, is everything. (Until shoe marketers figure something else out to sell us on.)

Biomechanics expert and the lead author of the study Dr. Benno Nigg told the Times that the research suggested our bodies are pretty good at figuring out how we each should move and run, and that following our natural movement patterns is generally the best plan.

His advice? “Try on four or five pairs. Jog around the store or the block in each,” he said. “People can usually tell right away which shoe feels the most comfortable. That is the one to choose.” —Emily Karr

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