Running shoes, how do you know what’s right for you?
With so many shoes to choose from here are some ideas that may help you make a more informed decision. Lets face it; your shoes are where your feet meet the road and as such can make or break your running experience. All shoes are not made equal, materials, last, and other factors can effect how they perform for you. Here are some tips that hopefully will keep you health and happy with your feet. Types of feet and what they need.
A rule of thumb…. Or actually the rule of the middle finger. Have a friend or loved one help you with this test. Stand in place with your shoes off, and have them try to push their middle finger under your arch. If they can’t get any under there you have flat feet. If they can get their middle finger half way to the first joint line you have a normal arch, if they can get it all the way to that line, you have a high arch.
If you have flat feet or ones with a low arch, there has already been some ligamentious changes to your feet and they are now looser than the normal foot. In this instance, a motion control shoe or orthotic is becoming important. The shoes with a stiffer heel counter say a seven out of ten. The heel counter is the part of the shoe that surrounds the heel and provides the stability in the rear of the shoe. It is also helpful with this type of foot, to have a more durable somewhat less flexible mid-sole as well. The mid-sole is the part between the bottom of the shoe and your foot.
With a normal arch, you can wear virtually any type of shoe with no ill effects, but I still believe shoes with a stiffer heel counter will provide better support than those with a minimalist type of heel counter.
People with high arches have tougher more intact ligamentous structures and require a more shock absorbing type of sole than other runners. This type of shoe is usually thicker soled and has more cushioning under the mid-sole.
More factors for a better fit !
If you have some old shoes you love bring them with you to show the salesman what has worked for you in the past. This can give the sales staff a starting point to discuss what is currently available and what advantages and disadvantages the new shoes might have for your particular type of foot.
It is best to try on new shoes at the end of the day as gravity moves our bodily fluids toward the earth throughout the day so our feet swell a little bit. Best to try on shoes when our feet are at their widest.
If you have orthotics, ALWAYS take them with you when you purchase new shoes. Having your orthotics in the new candidate is essential to evaluating how the new shoes will feel with your custom orthotics inside them.
Lastly be sure and try on shoes with socks of the same type that you normally wear. Its odd but it seems like the loaner socks are always quite thin for some reason, so best to bring your own, or buy some of the type you use to try on the new shoe candidates you may be interested in.
Over the counter orthotics, should I ?
Yes I know it, they will try to sell them to you every time. Over the counter orthotics will be identical side to side in arch, pitch and fit. I would bet your feet aren’t. Many people with very average feet can benefit from an over the counter orthotic, but most of us aren’t that symmetrical hence my thoughts are nuff said about over the counter. If you are having issues with your feet, the idea that your feet are “Average” and symmetrical goes right out the window.
Things to think about when discussing fit.
In a perfect world, the show store would allow you to run around at least in the store to see how the shoes you may buy interact with your feet and running style. Sometimes they have a treadmill mostly not.
My tips for buying shoes:
1)The heel counter should be supportive not overly soft. 2)The toe box needs to be wide enough not to put pressure on the sides of your forefoot. Shoes that are two narrow cause a myriad of problems both right now, and further down the line. 3)There should be an index finger worth of room between your longest toe and the end of the shoe such that when you stop sharply your toes don’t impact the end of the shoe. 4)Your feet should not slide side to side, or front to back in the shoe when laced properly. Also, your heel should not lift up and down inside the shoe when you walk or run.
How often should I replace my shoes?
That depends. (Sorry but I think it does.) Most shoe stores will tell you in months, I think its more accurate to think of miles. Other factors would be do you weigh 110 pounds or 210 pounds, I believe the heavier you are, the sooner you ought to replace your shoes. Sadly we wear the shoes new and think Ahhh how soft and bouncy. As they break down, we just don’t realize they have lost their shock absorbing capacity. I think its safe to say, somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 to 500 miles would be realistic. Less if you are a heavier or harder on your shoes runner more if you are slight.
As always, I hope these tips are helpful and provide some insight into the important arena of choosing a pair of running shoes.