I constantly have patients who come in and ask me about how to pick out the correct running shoes. They often say they are going to a store where “They watch you walk on a treadmill” to help you pick the right shoe. It is important to realize that the way we walk or our “gait” is very different on a treadmill than when we are walking on the ground, so that will not be a reliable way of finding the proper shoe for you. What I tell my patients and what I will tell you is that it is much simpler than you think to make sure you purchase the right shoe for your foot.

  •  Sizing
    • When you run the forefoot will widen or “splay”, so you will want to make sure that the toe box is large enough for your foot, meaning you should have at least ½ inch of space between your toes and the end of the shoe, as well as making sure that the sides of your forefoot are not in contact with the shoe (You can check this by pulling out the insole and stepping on it to ensure your foot is not wider than the insole). This often equates to a buying a shoe a half size larger than what you normally wear. Be careful, each shoe manufacturer’s sizing is a little different so make sure you double check.
  • Speed dating with shoes
    • We often go to the shoe store and think that the most expensive shoe on the rack must be the best one! That is not correct at all. The best shoe for your foot is the one that you barely notice is there. Here is my #1 tried and tested technique for selecting a running shoe
      • Try and find the shoe that feels like you are not wearing a shoe
        • If you feel pressure in your arch, feel your toes squished, or unbalanced in your shoe, that means that it is not the right one for you.
      • Grab 7 or 8 pairs of shoes
        • Put a different shoe on each foot and then walk around for 5 minutes, the shoe which is most comfortable leave on your foot and then select a different shoe to replace the less comfortable shoe. Repeat this process until you have gone through all of the shoes. By the end of this routine you will have compared all of the shoes to one another and will have found the shoe which is most comfortable and will produce the best fit.
      • Don’t switch “Cold Turkey”
        • When going from an old pair of shoes to a newer pair of shoes, make sure that you take some time to acclimate to the new shoe. Spend a week or two going on shorter runs and transitioning away from your old shoes.

Hope this information has been helpful, if you need any help selecting running shoes or would like to see if your fit is correct, or would like help getting started on a running program don’t hesitate to make an appointment with us at Pacific Physical Therapy.

Brett Palmer PT, DPT has been treating orthopedic and sports rehab patients for 5 years. He has taken over 300 credits of additional continuing education courses to ensure he has a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan for his patients.

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