To Choose the Shoes

An article
by Chris Hibbard

With information provided by Dr. Todd Bolokoski, DPM Podiatrist at Chinook Foot and Ankle Clinic, and Erin Pinder, Store Manager and Co-Owner of Runner’s Soul.

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To Choose the Shoes

With so many varieties of running shows available, how do you pick the best ones? Considering that the right shoes can prevent pains due repetitive tearing and common strain injuries, the answer to this question is important, yet not as simple as one might assume.

Before buying a new pair of running shoes, a runner should factor in their body weight, the type of running they intend to do, the surface on which they typically run, plus the type, shape and size of their feet – all before even considering the price and appearance of the shoe. However, here are a few pointers that can make the process of shoe shopping go a little bit smoother, and the shoes themselves more beneficial once the running begins.

1. When you need a car mechanic, you don’t go looking at Toys ‘R Us. Likewise, if you’re shopping for running shoes, a store like Wal-Mart may not be your best bet. Many stores specialize in footwear made for different purposes. When it comes to a specialized shoe made for running, shoes made for court sports such as basketball and racquetball are ideal as they differ in motion support, with one providing more lateral motion while the other is more heel-to-toe.

2. Many of these stores have staff trained in analyzing your specific gait and examining the shape and size of your foot. With information like this, a trained shoe salesperson can tell how your foot rolls when it strikes the ground, and subsequently how much support your arches may require.

3. If you typically run on trails, on grass, on sand or pavement, you may wish to consider finding shoes engineered more specifically for each surface. In the same vein, a sprinter should opt for a different shoe than a marathon runner, for one will likely need to replace their shoes more often than the other.

4. Never buy a shoe without testing it out first. Taking a few short steps around the inside of the store is simply not enough of a test. Some shoe stores will offer the use of a treadmill to this end, while others may allow the shopper to ‘borrow’ the shoes for five minutes to run around the mall or parking lot. Test a number of different shoes for comfort, fit and support before making your purchase. Even after making your final decision, check if the store has a time-limited exchange policy in place allowing you to ‘test-drive’ the shoes for a week or two before returning them if you’re unsatisfied.

5. Do not base your decision to buy based on the colour or style of the shoe. However, if two shoes offer comparable fit and function, these factors can then enter the equation.

6. Do your shoe shopping later in the day or evening. Feet swell up as the day progresses, so shoes purchased in the morning may not fit so well at night.

7. Some feet may require orthotic arch supports. The on-the-rack
drugstore variety are not recommended however, as they are seen as a short term fix to a lifelong problem.

8. Shoppers should bring their old shoes with them when shopping, as store attendants may be able to learn a great deal from the wear pattern inside, which can tell them a lot about how you run.

9. Try and try again. Before even considering the price tag or appearance, be sure to try on as many pairs of shoes as you need. Every shoe company’s products tend to fit differently. If after ten minutes the shoes have not become more comfortable, they are likely not the right ones for you.

10. Be wary of ‘gimmicks’ incorporated into the shoe, such as gel shoes, air shoes and pump shoes. In reality, these fancy little features offer very little to a serious runner. With this said, some runners seek out shoes with seamless insides, asymmetrical lacing, or dynamotion, based on personal preference.

Check the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine website for a list of doctor-recommended footwear at http://www.aapsm.org, and happy hunting.

SIDEBAR

Before buying a pair of runners, you should know what kind of feet you have. There are three different types of feet:

a) Flat Feet with no arch, and no inward curve from big toe to heel. If you’re flat-footed, you’re most likely an “overpronator”, meaning that your feet roll inward when you run. Overpronaters will probably need a show that maintains stability and motion control, and may want to consider wearing orthotics or custom-made shoe inserts inside their runners.

b) High-arched Feet tend to curve inward, making the middle part of your foot appear to be very thin. If you have high arches, you probably “supinate” or “underpronate”, meaning your feet roll outwards as you run. Runners with high arches should periodically re-measure their feet because running will cause their arches to gradually fall, making their feet longer. High-arched runners should look for flexible shoes with a soft mid-sole that absorbs shock.

c) Neutral or Normal Feet fall somewhere in between to other two. Your footprint will have a noticeable curve inward, but by less than an inch. This is the most common type of foot, and is also the least susceptible to serious injury, provided proper footwear is worn. those with Neutral feet are not typically advised to pick shoes with enhanced stability or motion control, and can wear a variety of different types of footwear.

When it comes to these three types of feet, provided you purchase a shoe that is right for you, you should not encounter any problems. For a more thorough and professional examination of your feet, it is recommended that you go see a professional podiatrist for a more thorough evaluation of your feet, your gait, and your biomechanics.

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~ by Chris Hibbard on November 6, 2008.

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