There are hundreds of running shoes on the market so how do you find the right one for you? Shoe choice is extremely individual and is impacted by foot shape, foot and ankle motion, overall form and gait mechanics, running experience, chosen running discipline, and personal injury history.
Here’s how to make an informed choice.
Trying shoes later in the day also helps as it will take account of foot swelling and associated volume increase.
Try not to assume you know your shoe size. Have both feet measured accurately and try on more than one size in each model. Under-sizing is a particularly common mistake.
Shoe Type: Neutral, Stability or Motion Control
Having analyzed data from thousands of runners, it’s clear the majority of runners need a neutral type shoe. Added motion guidance in a shoe should generally be reserved for runners whose foot-ankle motion is known to be leading to injury problems. If you suspect this applies to you, consult a qualified Physiotherapist for additional help. An orthotic is likely the best solution, as they last 2 years and will help guide your feet, “vs” a shoe that will wear out in 6 months.
The best advice I can give is:
Go to stores with a wide shoe selection like the Running room, Gord’s running store, Sole to Sole or the Foot Health centre, and compare them while walking and running in or around the store. Do a figure 8 to see which shoe offers you the most traction and stability.
If you are a runner, consider a comprehensive video gait analysis at our clinic.
Most important is how the shoe feels when you first walk in it and run on the store’s hallway.
Does the shoe grip or slips against your heel or dig into your Achilles?
Be aware of the lacing molding naturally to your foot shape.
Feel whether the lateral shaping cuts into the sides of your feet.
Test the toe box for shape and space to accommodate your foot as you strike the ground.
Sense the flex of the upper and midsole and the way the shoe reacts off the ground.
Choose shoes that work with what your feet want to do and enhance it.
“STAR” (squish, twist, alignment, and roll) test:
Squish – compress the shoe from front to back horizontally, the shoe should bend at the knuckle joint of the shoe, if it bends in the mid sole of the shoe it is too soft of a shoe, and you will be prone to plantar fasciitis.
Twist – Torsion the shoe to see if you can feel some resistance, a good stable shoe will not twist like a wet rag, if it does again this shoe is too soft.
Alignment – place the shoe on the counter or bench in the shop, look at it from the back of the shoe the heel should be aligned perpendicular (90 degrees) to the horizontal of the counter. As the shoes are sew together when they are manufactured sometime they can be misaligned, so make sure heel support is straight upright.
Roll – with the shoe on the counter press down on the front of the shoe with your index finger, you should see a nice roll occurring that pops up the heel of the shoe, if there is little of no roll this is a flat shoe that again is too soft.
If your shoe passed all 4 of these mechanical tests you have a high quality shoe, so go ahead and buy them and let’s get walking or running to keep healthy!
Blair balances his busy professional life by staying active. He enjoys cycling, swimming, working out, hiking, camping and snowboarding, depending on the season. Blair shares his free time with his wife, son and daughter outside on the weekends. He has learned to enjoy the journey, as life really is too short.
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