Rising temps and blooming scenery welcome runners back to the pavement this time of year. At a glance, running seems like a pretty simple sport: just lace up and take off. But if you’ve ever been to a running store, you know there are more options, styles, and brands than ever before. Running shoes have unique features to improve upon the mechanisms of running—but how do you know which features are right for your feet? Dr. Jason Bruse, Ogden Clinic Podiatrist, has some advice about finding your perfect pair.
Some running shoes provide “minimal” support; others have a lot of it. How much support do I need?
When we talk about support, we’re mostly referring to how much height is added inside the arch. It’s most efficient to run with a bit of an arch. Some of us naturally have a strong arch; others don’t have enough arch to run efficiently (called flat feet).
People with flat feet need arch support more than anyone else. If you already have a high arch, adding extra support will tilt your foot outward too much and could cause injuries.
You can get an idea of your arch shape by observing a wet footprint. For a more thorough analysis, consider visiting a podiatrist for a running evaluation.
Where should I buy running shoes?
Skip online shopping altogether if you don’t have a make/model that works for you yet. A specialty store is the best option for choosing running shoes because you can test them in action on a treadmill. Your perfect pair doesn’t need to be expensive or flashy, either. Experts at specialty stores perform one-on-one fitting sessions where they’ll take into account your arch type, previous injuries, and other needs.
When you find a pair you love, jot down the brand and model then stick to it! Often, you can find your shoes online at a discounted price when it’s time for a new pair.
What should I pay attention to when trying on running shoes?
First and foremost, you don’t want your toes crammed inside. Every type of foot will have problems if the toe box is too narrow. However, if a shoe feels too roomy, that’s not a good thing either. Feet swell while running so experts advise purchasing a half-size larger than you wear. There should be room in the toe box, but not so much room that you’re sliding around inside.
What about socks?
Runners really need to be in synthetic socks. Cotton is the worst for distance runners because it holds onto moisture and keeps it against the skin. This can cause blisters, fungal infections, or athlete’s foot. Consider materials like lightweight wool and nylon; they’re antimicrobial and wick moisture away from your feet.
When is it time for a new pair?
This will depend on your running style, frequency, and the surface on which you run. Running shoe midsoles break down after about 300 miles (6 – 8 months), although some people stay injury-free wearing shoes over a year or two old. A few indicators that it may be time for a new pair are:
- Your insoles have worn down (there is no longer shock-absorbent cushioning inside)
- Your outsoles have lost their tread
- You’re feeling pain such as muscle fatigue, shin splints, or pain in your knee(s).
Want to learn more about staying injury-free? Dr. Bruse performs running evaluations and all other podiatric services at two locations: Ogden Clinic Farmington and Cope Family Medicine | Ogden Clinic in Bountiful. Call to schedule an appointment with him at (801) 397-6080.