Glance around any race you will see a wide variety of runners' shoes. Some will be old and worn, while others look like they are straight out of the box. Some runners will boast about wearing the same shoes since seventh grade, while others are waiting in line at the store the day a new shoe or color comes out. Others are simply wearing the same shoes as last year. While their intentions for wearing their shoes of choice seem innocent enough, have you ever considered that those shoes, regardless of age or style, could be contributing to injuries rather than aiding in the prevention of injury?
Purchasing proper running shoes is a lot more complicated than buying the cutest, cheapest, or most popular shoe you can find. The type of shoe you purchase can actually prevent you from suffering from many different injuries.
It is important for any runner to know a couple of things about their feet when they are purchasing new running shoes:
- What type of foot do you have (normal, rigid/high arch, flat)? To determine what type of arch you have, you can wet your foot and walk on a smooth dry surface, such as a driveway. Then match the shape of your footprint to the pictures to the right to determine your foot type.
- Do you tend to pronate, supinate or remain fairly neutral?
- If you pronate, it means your foot tends to move inward more when you walk. Everyone pronates a little, but some people excessively pronate. Often times, if you have flat feet you are going to pronate more.
- If you supinate, it means your foot moves outward more when you walk. Supination can often happen with rigid/high arched feet.
- If you are neutral, your foot strikes the ground exactly as it should without moving too much outward or inward. Those with normal arches tend to fit in this category.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s foot is different. Although your foot type typically places you in one category, you may very well fit in another. If you are unsure which category you fit in, you can always go to a running shoe store, such as Second Sole, and ask one of the professionals. (Note: The Canton Marathon’s training program has been created by Matt Sidel, Running Club director and sales associate at Second Sole.)
Once you know what type of foot you have, it’s now time to pick the type of shoe that is best for your foot. Manufacturers typically make three types of running shoes:
- Cushion: These shoes are best for those runners who supinate, or have a high rigid arch. These shoes often come with extra cushioning to help your feet absorb shock. Their soles typically have a curved or semi-curved shape that will help promote a normal running motion
- Motion Control: These shoes usually have a straighter shape and darker (denser) material on the inside portion of the heel in the cushioning layer. This shoe is specifically designed for those with flatter arches who over pronate.
- Stability: These shoes often have a good balance of cushioning and stability. They are typically good for your neutral runner who doesn’t require a lot of extra correction. They also are made with a semi-curved shape, but are often a bit more flexible, which allows your foot to strike the ground naturally.
Now that you know how to pick your shoe, here are some other tips to remember:
- It is important to change your shoes every 350-500 miles. Whether your shoes still look good or worn, they have lost much of their shock absorption at this point. That means if you run an average of 10 miles per week, you should change your shoes every 9-12 months.
- Be sure to go to a store specializing in running shoes with a knowledgeable staff that can help you find the best shoe for your foot, such as Second Sole.
- Shop later in the day, or after you’ve worked out. Your feet tend to swell at these times, so you’ll get a more accurate fit.
- Make sure you buy the appropriate size running shoe. Most shoes will need to be purchased between one half and one full size larger than your street shoes.
- Wear the same socks that you are planning on wearing when you run.
- Make sure your heel doesn’t move around too much. You want a snugger fitting heel to avoid blisters.
- If you wear orthotics, take them with you! That way you can see if they properly fit into the shoe.
- If you currently have a pair of running shoes, take them with you. Even if you don’t like them, the salesperson may be able to look at the wear pattern on the shoe to help determine what type of shoe is best for you.
- Try on several different shoes. It becomes less about the look, color or whom else you know owns them and more about what is going to help prevent you from suffering injury.
- Test run the shoe while you are at the store, if possible