running shoe jumping

Whether you are new to the running game, or starting a new kind of activity like hiking or cross training, picking out the right kind of shoe can be a stressful task. As a podiatrist and an athlete, I will tell you that it is very important to find a athletic shoe that fits your specific needs. So here’s a few tips to help simplify the process. Happy shopping.

1. The shoe should fit the activity

The first step is to decide which activity you want the shoes for. Do you like to run on the road or on trails? Do you spend most of the time cross training in the gym doing classes like Zumba or Body Pump? Road running shoes are designed to be light and flexible with cushion and not a lot a tread. Trail running shoes add aggressive tread to provide protection while on rocks and uneven ground. Cross training shoes are designed to provide more contact with the ground while still giving you support and comfort. So make sure you think about what activities you will primarily be wearing these shoes for.

2. Find out your foot type

Now that you have a primary activity in mind, we can we start to look at your foot type. Typically, shoes are made for 3 different foot types.

The most common are neutral pronation shoes. This is for people whose arch is maintained during the gait cycle. When you strike the ground, initially your heel will slightly pronate or turn outward to allow for shock absorption. You may notice slight wear on the inside portion of your shoes at the heel.

The next is overpronatation. This is for people who are generally more flat footed and their arch is not maintained during the gait cycle. In this foot type you will notice excessive wear on the inside of the heel of your shoes and wear along the inside at the ball of your foot. For this foot type, added stability is placed into the shoe along the arch to help prevent your arch from collapsing. Often you will notice a different color of material along the midsole of the shoe, which is generally stiffer then the remaining portion of the sole.

The last type of shoe is for people who have high arches, or who supinate (also called underpronation). In this foot type you will notice excessive wear on the outside of the heel and along the outside of the ball of the foot. This is the least common in runners, but with this foot type, added cushioning and flexibility is necessary.

3. Now it’s time to try them on

The most important thing is comfort. Try to shop for shoes later in the day when your feet are generally a little more swollen. You will want about a thumbnail width in added length at the end of the shoes, but the width should be snug. You do not want to feel like you are sliding around in the shoe. Consider having your feet measured to ensure a proper fit.  Also, if you wear orthotics, bring them with you to make sure they will fit appropriately.

When it comes to brands of shoes, I have tried multiple over the years. Generally, most are made similarly with the different characteristics I have mentioned above. I typically will defer to comfort over a certain brand and recommend you try various brands to see which one you find the most comfortable. Most runners I talk to have found one they love, and will keep going back to that brand and model of shoe.

Here’s one more important piece of advice for all you dedicated athletes out there: if you find yourself facing a training-related injury, such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, or a stress fracture, it’s crucial not to push through the pain. Continuing to train on an injured foot can exacerbate the issue and prolong your recovery time. Instead, be proactive and take a well-deserved break from your training routine.

At Anderson Podiatry Center, we specialize in treating sports-related foot and ankle injuries, and we’re here to help you get back on track as quickly as possible. Our experienced team will provide you with expert care and a personalized treatment plan to support your healing journey. To make an appointment, click here.

Additionally, if you’re in need of the perfect athletic shoe to aid your recovery and prevent future injuries, we recommend visiting our friends at Runners Roost. When you drop by their store, be sure to mention that we sent you their way. They have the expertise to help you find the ideal shoe that suits your specific needs and enhances your athletic performance. Your health and well-being are our top priorities, and we’re dedicated to ensuring you receive the best care and guidance on your fitness journey.

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