A Podiatrists’ guide to finding the perfect running shoes
With the vast and ever growing amount of running footwear available on the market, it is more confusing than ever to establish which shoe is best suited for you. Running and walking are among the purest, most natural forms of exercise around. No pair of feet are alike, therefore choosing the right pair of runners is extremely important. The correct footwear enables you to exercise pain free and prevent a variety of complications including shin splints and heel pain. It's time we do our feet a favour and fit them with the best suited running shoe.
Knowing Your Foot Type
The first and most critical step in finding the perfect fitting runner is determining your foot type. The diagram below is a quick guide to determine, based on your foot type, if you require cushioning, stability or motion control. If unsure, please contact your podiatrist who will be able to perform a thorough gait assessment and guide you through the process.
Support – Neutral foot
- A neutral foot type means the arch will slightly collapse through the gait cycle and the foot will roll inwards towards the big toe.
- This foot type requires a cushioned shoe with some additional support on the instep of the shoe.
Cushioned – Supinated (rolling-out foot)
- If you are a supinator, your foot will not pronate (roll inwards) enough during the gait cycle.
- This is characterised with a high, rigid arch.
- A supinated foot type requires a cushioned shoe which will aid the natural movements of the foot.
Control – Pronated (rolling-in foot)
- This means the arch of your foot will collapse through the gait cycle and the foot will roll excessively inwards. If you're this type of runner, you're likely to have a flat arch.
- These shoes are characterised by built in support on the inside of the shoe and tend to have wide soles for additional stability.
Running Shoe Fit Tips
>> Don’t judge a book by its cover Just like the flashy cover of a book, the majority of people are drawn to a pair of shoes purely for their looks. We acknowledge that fashion is very important; however it can come at a painful price. It is of far greater importance to get the right fit and support than it is your favourite colour. Whenever you are buying a new pair of running shoes we recommend you think feel and fit, rather than fashion. During your run, you will not care about the colour of your shoes but you will care if you are in pain. A specialty running shop is a good place to try on different pairs of shoes before making your purchase.
>> Use the rule of thumb
The fit of your running shoe should be snug at its width and length but allow enough room for your foot to move without friction. Tight-fitting shoes may result in bruised toenails and blisters. To avoid this ensure there is a thumb's width of space between your longest toe (which isn't always the big toe) and the end of the shoe.
>> Do not assume your size
Shoe sizes vary between brands, so it is recommended that you go by what fits rather than the size of the shoe you usually wear. Our feet are known to change as we get older, so it is best to your feet measured every time you purchase a new pair of running shoes.
>> Know when to replace your shoes
Once the back of the sole is worn out, the shoe will feel uncomfortable or become less supportive; this indicates that it is time to take those feet shopping again. We recommend that you replace your shoes every 600 – 800 kilometres or 12-18 months depending of your level of activity.
>> Orthotics? Bring your orthotics along when purchasing new shoes as they will impact both fit and feel. If you have been recommended or currently wear prescribed orthotics it is best to speak to your podiatrist prior to purchasing any new pair of running shoes.