Forget brands and aesthetics. Get shoes that match your sport and fit your feet.
You wouldn’t wear soccer cleats at the bowling alley. You don’t wear dress shoes to the beach. So why would you go running in the same sneakers you wear to shoot hoops or to go to the gym?
Runners have different needs than other athletes, and running shoes are specifically designed to support unique stresses. Even walking or cross-training shoes are the wrong design for running. The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) recommends activity-specific shoes if you are a playing a sport seriously and advises replacing running shoes after 300 to 500 miles.
Here are five key things to look for when selecting your next pair:
1. What type of running will you be doing?
Footwear designed for running on roads will cushion your feet as they strike hard, uneven surfaces. Trail-runners need shoes that are sturdier and heavier, with extra traction. If you are running long treks, you’ll be looking for stability and support, while training shoes for sprinters are usually lighter, with minimal cushioning. And running at dusk or later means also selecting a reflective design for heightened visibility.
2. Know your foot type and stride
The arches of your feet can be classified as low, high, or neutral, and these distinctions affect the way you walk and run. Arches often determine pronation, the inward rolling movement of your foot when it makes contact with the ground. People with low arches tend to pronate inwardly, also called overpronation, whereas folks with high arches often roll their feet toward the outside (underpronate, or supinate).
There are running shoes with cushioning and stability features tailored for every arch type and pronation pattern. A knowledgeable podiatrist like Dr. Nina Coletta can examine your feet and use patterns to make recommendations that best fit your arches, pronation, and stride.
3. Find the right fit
Wiggle your toes. If you don’t have room to move them in a shoe, pass. You must allow for enough space in the toe box. About a half-inch from the top of the large toe to the inside of the shoe is considered adequate.
Walk around the store. Jump up. Stretch. Jog in place. Your heel should fit securely to avoid slippage, but the shoes should not feel tight. If your small toe sits on the inside-front edge of the shoe, it’s too tight.
Make sure to try on shoes in the afternoon. Feet tend to swell as the day progresses, so don’t look for the ideal pair early the morning. And wear your usual running socks when you assess the fit, because even a few millimeters can make a difference.
4. Check for breathability
You will sweat in those shoes, so be sure to let your feet breathe for both comfort and to prevent athlete’s foot. Look for plenty of mesh in the uppers which will provide maximum airflow. Consider buying two pairs so you can let one pair air out while you wear the other.
5. Mind the heel-to-toe drop
Heel to toe drop (HTD) is the difference between the height of the shoe’s heel and that of its toe. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends shoes with minimal HTD (0-6 mm) as “the best choice for allowing the foot to normally support loading during each gait cycle.” Shoes with little HTD encourage mid-foot strike, which is considered preferable to heel striking.
You’re putting in the time to exercise. So invest wisely in running shoes as well!
The right running footwear can enhance your performance while keeping you comfortable and injury-free. If you are serious about the sport, you will be spending a lot of time in these shoes, so make sure you pick the pair that offers you the stability and cushioning you need.
If you have questions about choosing the best footwear for running or any other activity, contact the office of Dr. Nina Coletta at 954.452.4590 or fill out our online contact form. Dr. Coletta and our staff stay on the cutting edge of Podiatric Medicine, taking a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to meet patients’ needs. We’re with you every step of the way.