Choosing the right running shoe can be a difficult problem even for those with years of dedication and experience. If you’re just starting out, the decision could be overwhelming! Of course, you could just decide to go out in whatever shoes you wear day-to-day, or pick the snazziest looking pair you can find off the shelf that seems to fit okay. But chances are high that your feet won’t appreciate it!
Here are some extremely important questions to ask yourself BEFORE you buy:
“What surface will I be running on?”
Running mostly on pavement is going to place very different demands on your feet and ankles than running on trails. With the former, you’ll probably need more cushioning to deal with the hard, flat surfaces. With the latter, you want traction and stability to help you deal with mud, obstacles, and loose terrain.
“What is my pronation style?”
In order to absorb the landing impact of a stride, arches flex and flatten while feet roll a little inward with each step. This is called pronation. However, not every foot does this to same degree. Some people overpronate, while others under-pronate (or supinate).
A quick and dirty way to check your own pronation is to look at the tread wear on your old pair of running shoes. Overpronators tend to blow out the inside of the tread (particularly in the area of the big toe), while supinators wear down the outside edge. Neutral pronation should show wear along the outside of the heel and evenly across the balls of the feet.
If you overpronate, you can probably benefit from shoes that offer more stability and motion control features. On the flipside, those who supinate need relatively little support but plenty of cushioning and flexibility in the shoe.
“What is my arch height?”
Arch height often—but not always—correlates with pronation style. Those with flat feet tend to overpronate, while those with high arches tend to supinate. If you’re not sure what a “normal” arch height looks like, you can perform what’s known as the “wet test.” Get your soles damp, then step on a piece of construction paper (like a paper grocery bag) and check out your print. If you see about half your arch in the print, good news—you probably have a neutral arch. Too much more or less than that may indicate a flat foot or high arch, respectively.
“Does the shoe fit?”
Okay, this one seems obvious. But plenty of people end up settling for a poor fit because they like the style or because the right size isn’t available in the store. Always, always, always measure both feet properly—including their width!—before you buy. Shoes that are too long, too short, too wide, or too narrow will frequently cause problems like toenail injuries, blisters, calluses, heel pain, and more.
If you find a specialty store you like, the staff will often be able to help you make an informed choice. But if you really want to go in with the best information, stop by Advanced Foot and Ankle and have us take a look at your feet and gait style. Our team of experts will not only be able to point you in the right direction in regard to running shoes, but we’ll also make sure your feet leave our office with a clean bill of health, and any existing structural issues are identified and corrected.
To schedule your appointment with us in either Twin Falls or Burley, please give us a call today at (208) 731-6321.