Tips for Choosing the Right Running Shoes
Choosing to run is an extremely worthy pursuit, and choosing running shoes is one of the first factors any beginner must consider.
Let us tell you right now: even if you’re just “testing the waters” with running for the time being, getting out there in just any old pair of sneakers you have lying around can be a relatively quick way to guarantee you won’t want to keep running for long.
Our feet—especially feet that are just starting to get used to running—need the right kinds of support and cushioning to help avoid injuries due to overuse. When we place more stress on our bodies than they are capable of reasonably enduring at the time—either in a sudden burst or over a sustained period of repeated activity (like running)—it can result in painful sports injuries such a stress fractures or Achilles tendinitis.
How we approach training and activities is a big part of helping to avoid these types of injuries in the feet and ankles, but so is the type of footwear we use.
If you run, then running shoes are a must. They are designed to accommodate the demands of running. Not all of them are the same, however, so you will want a pair that is best suited to your goals and the needs of your feet.
Don’t feel overwhelmed by all the options out there, though. We’re here to provide a few tips on finding the right pairs!
Start with Fit
No matter what features a running shoe might offer, it’s not going to be of any benefit to you unless it fits properly.
A good running shoe should accommodate your feet well into a run, when the pressures of the job tend to make them a bit larger and spread out. The best time to try on running shoes is toward the end of the day, when our feet tend to naturally be at their largest thanks to gravity and daily moving about.
Make sure there is about one thumb’s width between the end of your foot and the end of the shoe to accommodate your feet spreading out. However, the shoe should still wrap comfortably around the foot and not slide. A sliding running shoe can help lead to blisters due to friction, or black toenails as your toes repeatedly slam against the front of the shoe.
Shoes that are too tight are also likely to increase blister risk (funny how that goes), and not providing enough room in the toe box can cram the toes together and cause even further friction and pain.
Make sure to spend some time walking around in any running shoe before you take it out for a real run. This makes it easier to identify any potential problems with pinching or running, and address them before they have the chance to make you miserable midway through a run.
Do You Need Pronation Control?
Along with a proper a fit, a good running shoe should also accommodate any abnormalities you may have in your biomechanics.
Depending upon the structure of your foot (such as having flat feet or high arches, for example), it may roll too far inward or outward as part of movement. This can lead to excess stress and strain over time, which leads to pain.
Certain running shoes are designed to provide added stability and control for either overpronation (the foot rolling too far inward) or supination (the foot rolling outward).
In terms of design for foot control, look for the following:
- Neutral Shoes provide general shock absorption and support along the sides of the arches. They are intended for those with normal foot structure, but may also be enough for those who supinate or have a mild case of pronation.
- Super-Cushioned Shoes, as you might expect, provide additional cushioning. These tend to be good options for those who supinate and have high arches.
- Stability Shoes provide even further enforcement along the sides of the arches to counter movement in those with mild or moderate overpronation.
- Motion Control Shoes focus even more on stability, with stiffer heels and other measures to counter moderate to severe overpronation.
Knowing what kind of shoe is best for you will depend on knowing your gait (i.e. the way you walk). This is something we can happily determine for you during an examination, but many associates at sporting goods stores are trained in finding your gait as well. This can be done by watching you walk (there are often treadmills in stores for just this purpose) and by examining tread wear on shoes you have been wearing for quite a while.
Need Additional Support?
Sometimes good running shoes can only do so much to help a runner with problems stemming from overuse or overpronation. That’s where the specialists at Foot & Ankle Clinics of Arizona can shine for you!
We can get to the root of foot and ankle pain that may be getting in the way of your running time, and address them in ways that can make your time on routes much more comfortable and worth the effort. These measures can include the use of custom orthotics to provide very specific support and cushioning exactly where you need it, or recommendations of stretches and exercises that can strengthen supporting muscles and joints.
Whether you are just starting out or looking for ways to improve your personal bests, it’s always a good idea to check in with a podiatrist regarding any potential problems. Addressing problems now can help keep them from popping up in extremely inconveniencing ways later, as well as clear obstacles that may be impeding your goals.
Call us at (480) 917-2300 to schedule an appointment at any of our Phoenix area locations. If you prefer to contact us electronically or schedule an appointment online, please feel free to do so through our website.