An article in the New York Times this weekend shows the pragmatic approach that I like to see when talking about running shoes.
When trying on running shoes (or any other kind of shoes) first make sure that you just stand there in the shoes for at least a minute. Time it, make sure you stand there for a minute. It will be weird because people will try to make you walk.
Try on both shoes, not 2 separate ones. Feel around in the shoe for lumps and bumps caused by shoddy workmanship, and just try another pair if there is any problem, even small. There is little quality control on shoes, as is pointed out in the article. Many times the “break” or place where the transverse arch is, is different from left to right shoe, and not in a good way!
You will feel your legs and how they relate to the ground through your feet. You will feel your lower back and how it relates to your leg. Are you leaning slightly forward? That could be good.
Now, take off and walk heel to toe in a normal gait pattern, heel strike, weight transfer through the outside lateral arch to the transverse arch just back of the toes.
There should be normal movement in your hips and your legs should be swinging easily, ribbons in the breeze. No effort, easy forward movement. Jog a little heel to toe in the store.
If you are trying out a “barefoot” shoe, take the shoe into easy running in what we used to call a sprinter’s run, on the balls of the feet. The article is quite correct in that shin splints are a big problem with these shoes. Don’t push off hard on the balls of your feet. That is what separates tissue from the shin bone and periosteum and gives that pain.
Just let yourself easily run without trying to “exercise”, for about 3 weeks, when you decide to change shoes, or change to no shoes.
Rolfers™ do work with shin splints, mainly trying to ease up the tissue so that there is less pulling of the “meat” from the “bone”.
After about 3 weeks of easy running, for most people, you can push the shoes a little, air out some speed. This fartlek kind of variety is great. http://www.runners-resource.com/fartlek.html
Trust me, you do not want shin splints!