Whether you run to stay fit, lose weight, compete, or experience the mental and emotional joy it brings, a good shoe is essential. But the footwear choices lining the shelves at your local sporting goods store can be overwhelming.
Babak Kosari, DPM, FACFAS, with offices in Valencia and Northridge in Los Angeles County, has seen countless cases of running shoes gone wrong. While the right shoe can offer you miles of healthy exercise, the wrong shoe can cause running injuries. Your unique foot characteristics should guide you in your next running shoe purchase. Here’s what you need to know.
While the basic anatomy of the foot is the same in everyone, yours have unique characteristics that make you stand, walk, and run slightly differently from everyone else. A good way to determine what’s going on under your feet is to step on a sheet of brown paper (a grocery bag will do) with wet feet so it leaves an imprint. Here’s what that wet stamp can tell you:
If the wet spot shows the entire shape of your foot without much of a curve in the middle, it means you have flat feet or fallen arches. This matters because your feet are pronating or rolling inward from heel to toe whenever you stride while walking or running.
You need to look for shoes with motion control that will correct the pronation and support your arches. Grab the shoe and twist it. If it’s hard to twist, it has good support.
If your wet spot on the paper reveals an exaggerated curve, and barely any of your middle foot is shown, then you have high arches and tend to supinate, meaning your foot rolls outward a bit when you stride heel to toe. This condition is the opposite of pronation and calls for a different running shoe.
You’ll want to shop for a shoe with a softer midsole and good cushioning. Grab the shoe and twist it. If it’s easy to twist, it has less midsole support and is a good choice.
You have a neutral arch if your wet footprint looks pretty standard — no pronation, no supination. If you mistakenly buy shoes meant for those who pronate or supinate, you’ll have achy feet and legs and may end up with injuries.
Choose shoes with moderate cushioning and support but nothing extreme.
If you’re unsure what kind of feet you have, Dr. Kosari can answer all your questions and get you started on the right track.
So, you say you’re a size 10, you’ve always been a size 10, there’s no need to measure again just to find out you’re a size — 10.5. Surprise! Your body is constantly changing, and that includes your feet. Your foot size can change as you age, so take the extra step and make sure you know where to start when you’re shoe shopping.
Also keep in mind that a size 10 in one brand may be different than a size 10 in another brand. If you try on your size and it feels too tight or too roomy, make an adjustment. Don’t fall for the myth that you just need to “break them in.” Your shoes should feel right in the store or you shouldn’t buy them.
If you’re an avid runner, it’s a good idea to have more than one pair of running shoes. It’s wise to replace your running shoes after they’ve given you about 450-600 miles of wear. You can lengthen their life by having an alternate pair to sub in.
Also, if they ever get wet, tossing them in the dryer is a bad idea, as it can compromise the structure and fit. It’s better to stuff some newspaper inside to absorb the moisture and let them dry naturally. Meanwhile, you can wear your second pair of shoes.
Finally, a second pair will allow you to choose shoes for different terrains. Running on cement takes a more cushioned shoe than one you will wear running on grass or a synthetic track.
There are many variables when it comes to buying running shoes, but if you start with these basics you’ll be on the right foot. If you have shin splints or arch pain, it may be the result of running in the wrong shoes or perhaps a foot or ankle condition.
To learn more about choosing the right running shoes, and for all your footcare needs,, schedule a visit with Kosari today.