How do I Choose the Best Free Running Shoes?

A.E. Freeman

Free running is a term coined to bring the sport of Parkour to an English speaking audience. Parkour is a French discipline where participants attempt to get from point A to B as quickly as possible, leaping over staircases and other large objects if necessary. Free running combines elements of Parkour with stunts and acrobatic tricks. The right free running shoes are important in order to get started in the sport. Free running shoes should be lightweight, durable and have a good grip.

Supportive insoles are critical in running shoes.
Supportive insoles are critical in running shoes.

Regular running shoes are not the same as free running shoes. A person who plans on running marathons wants the lightest possible shoes so that she can run as quickly as possible. Free running shoes cannot be super lightweight or else the person will risk injuring her foot. The shoe must provide support when she goes to leap or flip.

Free running shoes should have soles with a good grip.
Free running shoes should have soles with a good grip.

A person should also look for a pair of free running shoes that fit her feet well. Her toes should fill the top portion of the shoe and there should not be gaps between her foot and the shoe's material. In addition to a snug fit, the shoe should be made of a durable material, such as canvas, that will resist wear and provide support to the runner's feet.

The best free running shoes should also have rather thin soles. The thick soles found on regular running shoes can injure a free runner. Thick soles are liable to make a person twist her ankle since she could tip over in the shoes. The cushion of a thick sole can also disrupt a free runner's technique, as she is unable to feel her landings from a jump effectively with a thick sole.

In addition to being thin, the soles of free running shoes should ideally consist of one piece of rubber. A sole made of multiple pieces of rubber is likely to wear down unevenly. Pieces of the sole could come off, exposing portions of the inner shoe and giving the free runner less grip on the pavement.

Since a free runner often uses her toes to push off the pavement or to climb walls, a sole that comes up and wraps around the toe of the foot is ideal as well. The soles of the best free running shoes extend high up the heels and sides of the foot and feature a built-in arch. Built-in arches protect the runner's foot during landings. It is important to check the bottom of the arch and make sure it has the same grip as the rest of the shoe or else a runner could slip when landing.

Marathon runners should choose the lightest possible shoe.
Marathon runners should choose the lightest possible shoe.

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Discussion Comments


In some places, you are going to have a hard time finding any shoes made only for free running. After all, the sport is still relatively new. However, there are some good cross trainers that are designed for many of the movements you see free runners making.


I have read about several towns in the UK where the police are cracking down on young people who are free running. Supposedly, the runners are doing really dangerous stunts trying to one-up one another, and they are putting themselves and other people in danger.

This is ironic since free running was started as a way for a person to avoid competition except with himself. This is supposed to be as much of a mental exercise as a physical one, but it seems that once again some people are taking something positive and making it negative and harmful.


I can definitely understand why you need special shoes for free running. Watch some of the moves those guys make on the videos and you'll wonder how their shoes stay in one piece.

I have been reading more and more about free running because I am always seeing videos on the Internet of people free running and the sport looks so cool. I am in good shape because I work out regularly, so I think I could get into free running without much additional training or conditioning.

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