To make sure you have a good fitting and comfortable shoe, know what you should be looking for and work with a trained sports shoe fitter to get the best results.
In this article we’re going to look at the top 12 tips to think about when you’re looking for a running shoe.
- Look for a specialist sports shop rather than a big chain. Specialists sports shoe stores employ people who are interested in your foot health and will be able to advise you with the style you need for your running style. We all have different running styles but never see what they are unless we’re videoed and have the results interpreted by someone who knows what they’re talking about. These specialists will watch you walk and run and help you buy the right shoe, not just any shoe or the one they’ll earn most commission with.
- Take your old running shoes with you when you go to buy the new pair. The pattern of wear in the soles says a lot about your running style or any foot problems. For example, pronation is the term given to the way the foot hits the ground and rolls inward or outward as it does so. Over pronation is when the foot rolls inward too much and under pronation (a less common problem) is when it rolls too little. In the latter case the foot is often quite inflexible and there’s a lot of pounding force through the joints. The right shoe will prevent either of these conditions causing a problem.
- Know whether you’re a heel striker or a forefoot striker. Most people run and walk by putting the heel down first and then the centre section of the foot, then the toes. A few people are forefoot strikers and set their forefoot down first.
- Know whether you’re flat footed or have a high arch. Dip your feet in water and stand on a dry concrete block or some other surface that will give an imprint of your bare feet. There’s an example here. The level of support, padding and technology in the right shoe will be different for each of these styles discussed in points 2, 3 and 4.
- Shop for your shoes in the afternoon. As when you’re running, in the afternoon your feet are slightly more swollen than they are in the morning. A better representation of your foot when you’re running will help you find a better fitting shoe.
- When you try your new shoes, rise up onto the balls of your feet and stand on tip-toe. In a correctly fitting shoe, the ball of the foot should sit comfortably in the widest part of the shoe. The sides of the shoe should comfortably cup the foot without pressing it or not touching at all. And make sure there is space at the end of the shoe for your toes so they’re not pinched.
- Now stand on one foot. This puts more pressure through the foot and presses it out into the shoe. If the shoe is comfortable while standing on one foot it’s a sign that you’re on the right track to a well fitting pair of running shoes.
- Then stand on both feet and gauge how balanced you feel. If your feet feel ‘peaceful’ and anchored then that’s also a good sign. You don’t want to be aware of your footwear when you’re running.
- Next feel the ride. A good sports shop will ask you to walk and run on a treadmill or in a special area set aside for this activity. The shoes should feel supportive and stable – no pinching, rubbing or pressing at any stage of the running action.
- Try several different types and styles of shoe. Your fitter will be able to advise which brands and styles are best for your foot type so it’s best to be ‘brand blind’ when you’re shopping. Just go for the fit.
- Discuss the distances and terrain you cover during a normal week with your fitter, again so that s/he can bring the most appropriate shoes for you to try.
- Make sure you’re wearing the right socks. A towelling sock will give padding and absorb sweat, keeping the feet more comfortable. Make sure the socks are long enough and don’t move and bunch in your shoe. And make sure the seams don’t rub your toes.