Running and jogging are excellent forms of cardiovascular exercise, but they put considerable stress on your body, particularly your feet. Selecting the proper running shoe is vital to preventing injury and protecting your feet and ankles.
There is no "best" running shoe. Every runner will have different needs when it comes to fitting running shoes; however, good running shoes have several things in common: they provide stability, arch support, and cushioning.
What to look for in running shoes
The challenge in selecting running shoes is choosing between different brand and model. Foot structure, weight, and running routine all factor into running shoe selection. For this reason, it is best to visit a podiatrist or a specialty running store for an individual fitting prior to selecting shoes.
Here are some general tips to follow when selecting running shoes:
- Bring an old pair of running shoes with you so your podiatrist or shoe salesperson can see how your foot pronates.
- If you normally wear orthotics, make sure you bring them to the fitting.
- Make sure the shoes are comfortable right off the bat, breaking in running shoes is never a good idea.
- Make sure the shoes grip your heel firmly; you should not be falling out of the shoes.
- Shop in the afternoon when your feet are slightly swollen. This will mimic how your feet swell when running.
- Walk and run around in the store to test the fit of the shoes. You should have room to wiggle your toes.
- Wear the same socks you would wear running when fitting your shoe.
Issues created by improper fit
Every time a runner's foot pounds the pavement, it generates a force that is three times the body's actual weight. It is no wonder runners suffer from a variety of injuries affecting the feet, ankles, knees, and hips.
Good running shoes are essential to preventing injury. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Poorly fit running shoes can increase the risk of injury. Improper shoe wear can contribute to any of the following injuries:
- Ankle sprains.
- Calf pain.
- Heel pain.
- Plantar fasciitis (arch pain).
- Sesamoiditis (pain in the ball of the foot).
- Shin splints.
- Stress fractures.
One of the most common causes of running injury is overpronation. Finding running shoes that provide motion control and a high level of support can go a long way in preventing injury. The same is true for supination, or underpronation. A supinated foot cannot absorb shock while running, so it is important to fit runners with underpronation with shoes that provide sufficient cushioning.
If you have injured your foot while running or want to be properly fitted for running shoes, visit your podiatrist.