Shoes are your biggest asset when it comes to preventing foot pain and injury while running. Here are some guidelines for buying the best running shoes for your feet.
Go to a reputable running store
Stores that specialize in running will know a lot more about fitting your feet properly than stores that do not. In Seattle we recommend Super Jock ‘N Jill, Fleet Feet Sports, REI, or Brooks. According to Runner's World magazine here are some of the questions a store should be asking you to ensure you are buying the proper shoes.
- your level of running experience
- how much you run in a typical week
- the height of your arches
- your motion mechanics (e.g. over pronation)
- where your foot strikes the ground (e.g. forefoot)
- any foot pain issues
It’s also important to bring in any old running shoes so they can look at your wear patterns.
Although you might initially rely on experts to fit you with the best shoe, it’s always best to get to know your own feet when buying shoes.
Replace the insert that comes with your shoes
Even new running shoes don’t come with an insert that will totally support you. Replace it with an over-the-counter insert such as Superfeet or Powerstep. If you have orthotics bring them with you to the store.
Go shopping at the end of the day
Feet are most likely to swell at the end of the day. Shop later in the day so you don’t buy shoes that are too small.
Check for proper size
Get your feet measured to make sure your size hasn’t changed. A good percentage of us will see a half to full size change in our shoe size over time. Often this is due to weight gain but there can be other factors at play as well.
When you try on the shoes there should be at least one thumb’s width between the tip of the big toe and the end of the shoe. If one foot is larger than the other, buy to fit the larger size.
It may be time to switch brands
Just as your feet can change length, your range of motion, balance, and speed can also change. Experiencing foot pain wearing the shoe brand you once loved can be a strong indicator that it might be time to part ways. Shoe brands also can change how their shoes are made. What was once a perfect shoe for you may no longer be the case.
It’s time to go back to a running shoe store you trust and talk to the salesperson about the problems you’re having. If your new shoes don’t help, it’s time to see a podiatrist.
Test your shoes
Shoes should bend at the toe not in the center, be difficult to twist when you try to wring them out like a rag and have a stiff heel counter that you can’t move easily. A true running shoe should pass this test easily. If not, keep shopping. To learn how to test your shoes visit our video “How to Test Any Shoe for Stability”.
When to replace your shoes
Shoes should be replaced after every 400-500 miles. Most runners will need to replace their shoes every 6 months. You also may be wearing the wrong running shoe. It’s important to replace them if you notice any of the five signs your shoes are wrong.
Best running shoes for foot pain
Running is hard on the feet. Consider this. For every pound of weight, we place seven pounds of force on our feet every time we run. When we walk, it’s only three pounds. It’s no wonder that so many people end up in my office who are runners.
But what can be done? While there are many tools in my toolbox for helping the painful feet of runners, one of the best tools are your shoes. Two of the most common foot problems runners face are plantar fasciitis and bunions. These conditions have one thing in common. They occur most often in people with flat feet.
If you have flat feet, you’ll need more arch support to keep your foot in a neutral position when you run. Motion control shoes provide the most stability. If you have low arches, stability shoes will be your best bet. For bunions, wide motion control running shoes will prevent pressure on the bunion.
Try different lacing patterns to help your shoes feel more comfortable
While the shoes you buy can help relieve pain, often changing the lacing pattern can help even more. Check out “4 Lacing Hacks to Improve Running Performance.” We also have a video “How to Lace Your Shoe to Keep Your Feet Pain Free.”