Choosing the Proper Running Shoe
By Abby Burbach
AZOPT Student Physical Therapist
It’s the perfect time to dust off those shoes, and hit the pavement! But how can you be sure your sneaker is snug and not causing some unwanted aches and pains? Or worse, leading to training-halting injuries?
Here are some tips to pick your perfect running shoe:
How Are You Training?
You should choose a type of shoe that best fits with your training environment. Running on pavement? Choose a shoe that is light weight, flexible, and provides a cushion for landing on hard, flat surfaces. Trail running or hiking? Opt for a shoe that is durable, has traction, and offers stability, protection, and support. Do you prefer in-door gyms? Go for light weight and durable.
Know Your Foot Type
The mechanics of your foot can guide you in how to find the right shoe for you. The foot typically has three patterns: neutral, over-pronators, and over-supinators.
Neutral feet (see picture below) typically display an even, straight on strike pattern.
Over-pronators (see picture below) tend to be flat footed and roll toward the inside of the foot when planting. Over-pronators benefit from shoes that provide stability and motion control. Inserts along the arch of the foot and inner portion of the shoe help prevent the foot from falling flat during planting and are beneficial for over-pronators.
Over-supinators (see picture below) tend to have high arches and roll toward the outside of the foot when planting. Over-supinators also tend to be high-impact with planting. Over-supinators benefit from shoes with plenty of cushioning and flexibility.
Whether an over-pronator or over-supinator, having biomechanical imbalances in the feet can make a runner prone to knee instability, hip and back pain, plantar fasciitis, or shin splints, to name a few common ailments. Choosing the correct shoe for your foot type can help in preventing these problems and keep your training on track.
Not sure if your foot is neutral, over-pronating, or over-supinating? Take a pair of shoes you commonly train in and check the bottom. If it is more worn to the outsides, you may be an over-supinator. More worn on the inside? You may be more of an over-pronator. Pretty even? Your foot may be neutral.
Are My Shoes Too Old?
If you have to ask, the answer may be yes. Most running shoes are made to last between 400-500 miles. If the bottoms are becoming noticeable worn, your toes are ripping through the tops, or portions look visibly compressed, it may be time for a new pair. Not into counting your miles? A good rule of thumb is to invest in a new pair once a year for the casual runner or every 6 months for those who run more frequently.
Get Your Run Analyzed
Still unsure of how to pick the perfect shoe? Make an appointment with your physical therapist for a gait analysis and measuring of foot mechanics. We can provide helpful information and recommendations on proper foot wear and guide you in the direction of finding your proper shoe.