Runners and Triathletes: Let’s Go Shoe Shopping!

I’ve noticed that the past couple of times that I’ve gone out for a run that I experienced some soreness in my knees. There are several potential causes of the knee soreness/pain, which we can experience during and after a run. I will discuss these in a future article. One potential cause is worn shoes, which was the case in my situation. I hadn’t made the time to get a new pair of shoes for the new year. Worn shoes are a common cause of a variety of injuries. There are a number of other factors, which can make us susceptible to injury when we run. These will be discussed my next article.

So, another important step we can take to achieving our running and/or triathlon goals for 2015 is by getting a new, or better yet, multiple pairs of running shoes that are the best fit and most appropriate for us. In this article I will give you some guidelines for buying running shoes. Before you go to a running store to buy your new pair of shoes, there are a few factors to consider. One is the type of surface(s) you will be running on. Will you be mostly on trails or road? Another is your foot arch type (high, normal, flat), which can impact whether you supinate (foot tends to roll outward), pronate normally, or overpronate (foot tends to roll inward). Body weight can also be an important factor to consider for shoe selection.

If you don’t know your arch type you can use the water test to determine this.

Water test:

• Dip your foot in water and then step on a heavy piece of paper or cardboard

• The resulting footprint will shoe the shape of the foot

• If the footprint that is curved, showing mostly the heel and ball of the foot with little in the middle is considered a high arch or supinated foot

• If the footprint shows most of the foot and a moderate curve in the middle, the arch is normal

• If the footprint is wide and full with no arch, this is considered an overpronated, or flat foot

You can also determine if you tend to supinate, pronate normally, or overpronate by looking at the wear patterns on the bottom of your shoes.

Shoe wear patterns:

• Normal pronation is indicated by wear that occurs across the heel and ball of the foot

• Runners who overpronate will see significant wear along the outer heel, ball of the foot, and the inside of the forefoot

• Runners who supinate, or have high arches, will mostly wear on the outer edge of the shoe

Now, it’s time to go shopping!

If possible, I recommend sticking with the same type of shoe that has previously worked well for you. Shoe manufacturers make this a challenge because they are constantly changing their models; usually they change models every 6-8 months! So, there is benefit to buying two pairs of shoes that work for you.

Tips on shopping for running shoes:

1. I recommend shopping at a reputable running store with trained personal to help you.

2. If you haven’t done so before, it can be beneficial to be videotaped while running on a treadmill in a running store, which can help better determine if you pronate normally, overpronate, or supinate.

3. If you overpronate, the shoes that will work best for you are those that have extra stability or even motion control, depending on the extent of overpronation. If you supinate, running shoes that have cushioning and flexibility will be most beneficial. If you have a normal arch then get shoes with neutral stability.

4. The store personal should be measuring both the length and width of your foot.

5. Try on multiple pairs of new shoes, from multiple shoe manufacturers.

6. Try on new shoes with the same sock that you wear when running.

7. If you wear orthotics or inserts be sure to wear them when trying on new shoes.

8. Try on both shoes, but fit the running shoes to the larger foot. Do not assume that the shoe will “break-in” if it feels tight to begin with.

9. Try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet are largest because of swelling. Running shoes may need to be one-half to one size larger than normal shoes. Make a decision based on how the shoe fits, not on shoe size on the box.

10. Make sure that all your toes can wiggle freely, and that there is approximately one thumb’s width between the big toe and the end of the shoe, to avoid blistering.

11. The heel should not slip up and down out of the shoe when walking or running.

12. Keep in mind that the most expensive pair of running shoes is not necessarily the best.

13. Make sure the shoe fits the shape of your foot. It should feel comfortable immediately.

14. Practice running in the shoe while you are at the store, if possible on a treadmill, or better yet, outside.

15. Buy a shoe that is breathable. The shoe’s upper (the part of the shoe above the sole) should be made of fabric such as nylon mesh, which allows airflow.

16. Find out the store’s return policy before leaving, in case these shoes don’t work out.

The life of a shoe depends on the type of shoe, how often the runner is training, and what surfaces he/she runs is running on. In general, it’s recommended that running shoes be replaced every 300-500 miles, or every 6 months. Runners who log more than 50 miles a week and heavier runners may need to replace their running shoes more often. Runners should not wait for the sole of the shoe to show signs of wear; by that time the shoe’s cushioning and shock absorption capabilities have already worn down.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

See you on the road or trail,

Coach Brian

Share this: Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *