Running with the Proper Shoes

Confused about running shoes? Join the club.

Feet, just like people come in all sizes, shapes, and designs. If you make the trip down to your local running shoe store you will most likely see a wall, sometimes multiple walls, of running shoes. The overwhelming number of options may cause profuse sweating, blurred vision, and/or a pounding head. The “wall” has shoes with all sorts of technical features, each of which seems to outdo the other with claims for stability, cushioning, and/or motion control. Then you throw in this year’s model and left-over shoes from last year.

If you are lucky, a knowledgeable salesperson who kind of looks like a runner will ask you what type of shoe do you need.

How much do you run?
Are you a neutral runner, do you need stability, or how about this motion control shoe?

What is the best running shoe?

Because each runner is unique in how much they train, their body structure, and what their running style is, there is no “perfect” running shoe. The best running shoe for you depends entirely on the shape of your foot, your biomechanics, and the amount of running you do. Running shoes are designed to protect your feet from the road, provided traction on different surfaces, cushion the landing shock, and support your feet.

As a result, picking the right shoes for running is more of an art than a science. Much like test driving a variety of cars before you buy, many runners experiment with different brands and models until they find just the right fit, feel, and functionality.

Why buy a real running shoe?

In addition to wanting to LOOK FAST, running shoes provide the best protection for your feet, legs, and body from the repeated stress of thousands of foot landings per mile. You want to have excellent cushioning in both the heel and forefoot to handle this impact because each time you take a stride and land, your foot must absorb two to three times your body weight.

This repeated impact is different from other sports, which is why running shoes have built-in features that enable you to run day after day more comfortably and with less chance of over-use injury.

Here are some of the advantages of running shoes:

  • Superior Cushioning
  • Flexibility in the right places
  • Stability or Motion control
  • Traction on road or trails
  • Torsional stability – stiff where needed
  • Night-time reflectivity
  • Breathability

Before you Buy

Before you step inside a store, you need to know what type of foot you have.
Yes, it can be a stinky job, but somebody’s gotta look at your feet. As biomechanical experts, your physical therapist is a great resource to provide you with that information.

A thorough biomechanical assessment to determine your proper shoe recommendation should include both a weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing assessment of your feet. As part of the evaluation, it is also important to include an assessment of leg length and hip strength.

As stated before, finding the proper running shoe can be a process. To shorten your trial and error path when looking for the proper running shoe, take the time to have your feet assessed by a physical therapist. Having that information to provide to the shoe experts at your local running store will make your shopping experience much less stressful and so much more enjoyable, allowing you to enjoy the little things in lifelike that new shoe smell!

Happy Running!

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