Wellness Wednesday Tip #55: Choose the Proper Footwear for Running

Happy Wellfie Wednesday! Welcome back!

     With summer comes longer hours of sunlight and shorter work days, allowing for more down time. In addition to this, many people are choosing to spend more time outside and pausing/canceling their gym memberships to workout outdoors. One of the most common hobbies to pick up during warmer weather is running. However, many people are not equipped to handle the change of running on a treadmill to running on a concrete surface. In the gym, it’s easy to get away with low support/high fashion athletic shoes. It’s easy to get swept up in the hype of the newest Nikes and Asics, after all, those are the athletic shoe standards, the cream of the crop… right? Wrong. There is so much more involved in picking a shoe for your needs!

     Choosing the wrong shoe can lead to injury (think IT band syndrome, shin splints, etc.) There are plenty of running stores with staff that are well trained to help you pick out your perfect shoe. For example, in Brooklyn, NY there is a store that has a treadmill inside, and you can discuss your fitness goals and demands with a staff member. They will look at your foot shape and bring out shoes they think would be best suited for you and then you can test them out by running on the treadmill. Brooklyn is not the only place that has this option! The Fleet Feet I frequent in California has a half track for you to test your shoes on. In fact, there are a lot of stores with these types of options. Check out the Top 50 Running Stores in America. 

     So, what factors are important to mention and consider when choosing the proper shoe?

  1. Type of surface you will be running on.
  2. Gait pattern and foot strike. Are you a supinator, pronator, or neutral? Do you tend to run on your toes? (Unsure? Take a look: http://www.runnersworld.com/tag/pronation)
  3. Arch height and shape of your foot.
  4. Material.

     1. The type of surface you are running on makes a huge difference in the kind of shoe you choose. There is major variation in the options available to you. If you are running on cement, it is more likely that you would benefit from a shoe with greater shock absorption to help absorb some of the impact of hitting a hard surface versus running in barefoot/Vibram shoes.

     2 & 3. The way your foot lands on the ground changes the type of support you need in your shoe. If you hit the ground more on either the inside or outside of your foot and do not accommodate to create a neutral pattern, you may cause yourself injury (i.e., ITBS, shin splints). An excellent way to check for this is to have your running assessed. You may also need to put different insoles in your shoes once you’ve chosen the proper shoe. For example, I run in a neutral shoe and opt to put in the green SuperFeet insoles for better arch support, rather than the ones that come with the shoe. It is also important to recognize that not everyone has the same foot shape. Some people have feet that are wider at the toes that require a wider toe box, some people have narrow ankles and need something that won’t slip off your heel as your run. Occasionally higher arches will cause the top of your foot to rub against the tongue of the shoe uncomfortably and require a different type of lacing than is typical for the shoe (http://running.competitor.com/2015/05/photos/3-ways-to-lace-up-your-running-shoes_128380).

     4. A lot of people seem to neglect material of the shoe. This may be the primary culprit of opting for a fashion athletic shoe versus the practical shoe. Up until recently, I was one of those people that were blindly loyal to Asics based on the appearance of the shoe and recognition of the brand name. I ran in them despite the fact that my feet would constantly overheat because they looked good. I have since learned better and now run in a shoe that is more breathable. 

     Overall, there are so many factors involved in making sure you’re in the right pair of shoes! I know we all want to look good, who doesn’t want to impress the strangers you see in the park with a sleek pair of shoes? But the most important thing is for you to feel good in your shoes! By feeling good, I mean feeling comfortable, not feeling fly because your shoes light up each time you take a step.

     Need help? Shoot us a message. Always happy to give out store recommendations or help direct you on the right path. We can also hook you up with some pretty knowledgeable Physical Therapists, who can help with choosing the proper footwear for running. 

     As always, thanks for reading. Be well. And be sure to tag the WW crew members in your post (@PBernerSPT@Eric_in_AmERICa@AaronPerezPT@DianaKlatt) and keep the wave of healthy change going!

-WW Crew