These are the shoes that top runners rely on to avoid injury

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The top women racing in the 2016 US Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles.
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USA Today Sports/Reuters

Every runner knows that it’s nearly impossible to compete at your best without the perfect shoe.

Choosing the correct pair could be the difference between achievement and injury. But with a seemingly infinite number of options, choosing the right pair can get overwhelming in a hurry.

In fact, researchers from Staffordshire University in England found that almost 60% of injuries in recreational triathletes came from running. At the elite level, that number was even higher.

So what are these injuries?

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heal pain, according to the Mayo Clinic, and it is one of the many problems that can result from not wearing the shoes with adequate support while training.

The injury is caused by inflammation of a thick band of tissue, the plantar fascia, that connects your heel bone to your toes. It causes a stabbing pain, noticeable first thing in the morning and when you put pressure on your foot for long periods of time.

Another common injury is tendinitis, which occurs when runners wear shoes with the incorrect amount of arch, according to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society.It affects the achilles tendon, which is the largest tendon in the body, causing feelings of burning and tightness because the tendon is inflamed. Failure to treat tendinitis can lead to tearing of the tendon and eventually a rupture, which requires surgery and months to heal.

Runners also get shin splints. Runner’s World attributes the pain to inflammation of the tissue that wraps around the shinbone. It can be caused by wearing shoes that enable pronation, or the inward movement of the foot, or shoes that don’t have enough arch.

Other injuries include blisters, athlete’s foot, and hammertoe.

“Typically, in any given population of runners, you’ll find 50% of runners have suffered an injuring in the last year or two,” Maxime Paquette, professor of biomechanics at the University of Memphis, told Business Insider. He said he often sees problems like stress fractures, knee pain, and more.

“We can’t put a finger on the exact cause, but the general agreement is that doing too much too soon is the primary culprit for overall running injuring development,” Paquette said. “When you add potential footwear, strike pattern, etc. to the equation, it becomes quite tricky.”

There is still a lot of research to be done, he said, but ultimately, shoe preference is personal to the individual. Minimalist shoes could help some athletes learn how to run more lightly and build up ankle musculature, while maximum-stability shoes could weaken musculature over time while protecting the sole.

“I do think the wrong shoe can harm the body,” Paquette said. “Some folks, without proper strengthening, do need more cushioning and stability in a shoe, whereas others don’t.”

Competitor sifted through race results and social-media posts following the 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles and they noted what shoes were worn by the top 75 men and women finishers. The top three finishers for each gender will run for the US in Rio in August.

Check out these 13 most popular brands worn by the top finishers and the features they offer to prevent injury. Maybe these results could help you pick the right shoe for you.


13. Under Armour

Number of top 150 finishers wearing Under Armour: 1

Top qualities: Breathable, durable, arch reinforcement


12. Salomon

Number of top 150 finishers wearing Salomon: 1

Top qualities: Secure fit, generous cushioning, quick lacing system


11. Newton

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A pair of supportive Newton running shoes.
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Newton Running

Number of top 150 finishers wearing Newton: 2

Top qualities: Good ventilation, conforms to foot, padded tongue


10. Reebok

Number of top 150 finishers wearing Reebok: 2

Top qualities: Surface control and handling, dependable platform, flexible


9. Hoka One One

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Sunrise training in a pair of Hoka One Ones.
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Hoka One One

Number of top 150 finishers wearing Hoka One One: 4

Top qualities: Midsole that protects from impact and increases stability, easy heel-to-toe transition, roomy toe box


8. Mizuno

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A woman stops to tie her Mizuno shoes during a run.
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Mizuno USA

Number of top 150 finishers wearing Mizuno: 6

Top qualities: Shock attenuation, efficient toe spring, durable


7. Saucony

Number of top 150 finishers wearing Saucony: 13

Top qualities: Moisture wicking, underfoot support, shock absorption


6. New Balance

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Early-morning training session in New Balance.
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New Balance

Number of top 150 finishers wearing New Balance: 14

Top qualities: Good traction, breathable, responsive heal-to-toe transition


5. Sketchers

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A man running in Sketchers shoes.
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Sketchers

Number of top 150 finishers wearing Sketchers: 15

Top qualities: Good traction, soft fabric, roomy toe box


4. ASICS

Number of top 150 finishers wearing ASICS: 16

Top quality: Dependable but light, blister-free, stable


3. Adidas

Number of top 150 finishers wearing Adidas: 23

Top qualities: Flexible, balance in midfoot, propulsion mechanics

Adidas sponsors nine national teams and over 20 American track and field athletes. One notable Adidas runner is Jeremy Wariner, winner of four Olympic medals (three gold, one silver) and six World Championship medals in the 400-meter race.


2. Nike

Number of top 150 finishers wearing Nike: 26

Top qualities: Lightweight, breathable, springy foam

Three of the top six US Olympic qualifiers wore Nike during the race, including winner Amy Cragg-Hastings. Her final time was 2:28.20. Hastings took 11th place at the 2012 London Olympics.


1. Brooks

Number of top 150 finishers wearing Brooks: 27

Top qualities: Underfoot comfort, good traction, pronation control

Desiree Linden took second place wearing Brooks in the US Olympic qualifiers in February. She finished with a time of 2:28.54.

These athletes are obviously doing something right to be able to effectively perform at the most elite level. While this list shows what the country’s top marathon runners wear, it’s important to remember that everyone’s body is different, and speaking with a specialist about which shoe is right for yourself could be the difference between success and injury.