If you’re new to running, you’re just starting to get a taste of how wonderful a good run can feel. But you’re getting a taste of the other side of running as well, as you start to feel pain in your feet and ankles. If you don’t address the problem, the pain could get worse.
Choosing the right running shoes is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent running injuries. Here are some tried-and-true tips for finding the right pair for you.
1. Look for Quality over Price
Some people spend hundreds of dollars on running shoes. They assume that the more you spend, the better shoes you’ll get. However, that’s not always the case. Just because a shoe is expensive doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you.
In one study, researchers experimented with running shoes from a price range of $80 to $150. Their findings showed that low- and mid-cost shoes had a similar or greater quality to higher-cost shoes of the same brand.
2. Consider Your Foot Shape
There are three main types of foot shape, and each may do better with a different type of shoes.
- Low arch or flat foot. If you don’t have a significantly defined arch at the bottom of your feet, you might run with an inward rolling motion. To prevent this, choose a stable running shoe with minimal cushioning.
- Neutral. If you have an average arch, you’ll be okay with most kinds of moderately stable running shoes.
- High Arch. People with high arches often land on the outside edge of the feet. If your arch is high, choose a shoe with more cushioning to protect your feet.
Keep in mind that too much support can cause cramping in the arch of your foot.
3. Look at Your Gait
Taking a look at how you run will help you on your quest for the perfect running shoe. A podiatrist or shoe salesperson may want to watch you walk or run and see how your foot strikes the ground. They can choose a shoe with the right cushioning and features to complement your gait.
As you walk or run with a pair of shoes, make sure walking or running feels natural. Your shoes should support your natural stride rather than trying to change it.
4. Keep Body Frame in Mind
Running can put the stress of three to five times your body weight on your feet. Thus, your weight and height can affect the kind of shoes you buy. A larger person may prefer more cushioning, while smaller people might prefer less cushioning.
5. Get the Right Size
For running, you typically need about a half size larger than your normal shoe size. Keep in mind that the same shoe size in different brands doesn’t have the exact same fit, so try on the shoe before you buy.
It’s best to buy shoes in the evening because your feet are more swollen at the end of the day. If you buy shoes in the morning, they may feel too small in the evening.
6. Get the Right Fit
Giving your toes enough wiggle room is important because your feet swell after a run. Your feet will be best served if you can move your toes comfortably up and down.
However, don’t give yourself too much room, since that can cause your heel to slip. Make sure you can slide your heel out of the shoe when your shoes aren’t tied. The top of your shoe should feel snug, but not tight.
Make sure the shoe is also wide enough for your foot’s comfort. At the widest part of your foot, you should still be able to pinch a quarter-inch of material with your fingers.
7. Check the Shoe’s Flexibility
A flexible shoe allows your foot to bend properly and prevents you from developing arch pain or plantar fasciitis. Before putting on the shoe, hold the shoe by the heel and put the shoe’s tip on the floor. Make sure the shoe bends in the same line that your foot would when you flex it.
8. Consider Orthotics
If running still puts significant stress on your feet, orthotics can help. Perhaps you turn your foot too much or not enough when your foot strikes the ground. Orthotics adjust the angle of your foot so you strike the ground at the ideal position. They can help conditions like plantar fasciitis and shin splints.
A podiatrist can measure your foot and order a pair of custom orthotics that are just right for you.
9. Purchase Two Pairs
Running in the same shoes at the same pace days in a row can lead to injuries like blisters. Consider buying a second pair of shoes so you can switch between the two pairs.
Follow these tips to prevent running injuries like sprained ankles and shin splints. If you experience injuries or pain while you run, see a podiatrist.