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Are You in the Right Running Shoes?

I had an ‘Aha!’ shoe moment watching an Oprah Winfrey Show episode that said every woman should own more than one pair of black shoes. Since they’re so basic, I thought one pair was fine! After that show, I went from having one pair of black flats to a wardrobe of black pumps, black sneakers, black clogs and super-sexy black heels. Each pair serves a different purpose, outfit and occasion.

Holly’s ‘Aha!’ shoe moment was a bit different from mine. After suffering with shooting pains up the front of her shins, she had an evaluation of her gait (the way she moves/strikes the ground with her feet) and her arches. She was advised to replace the running shoes she had been wearing for 2 years with a shoes that would accommodate her high arches. Since then, she’s been running pain free.

Cost is Not Key When Choosing a Shoe

According to Running USA’s 2012 Women’s National Runner Survey, 65% of the women who responded spent more than $90 on running shoes last year. But cost itself doesn’t determine whether a shoe is good for YOU. It’s best to consult with an expert who can help you find out what shoe is your best fit.

Learn the basics of finding the right shoe

Virtua podiatrist Elisa Robinson, DPM, explains, "There are 3 basic running shoes. The key is knowing what shoe is best for your type of foot. The right running shoe, combined with proper stretching, can prevent stress fractures, tendinitis and even shin splints."

An evaluation starts with the arch. If you have feet with low arches, Dr. Robinson recommends a higher stability shoe. Look for something with ‘maximum stability’ and stick to specialty stores, as they tend to offer a wider selection for people with flat feet and low arches.

If you have feet with normal arches, a regular stability shoe is recommended; most walking shoes fall into this range. For those with high arches, a well-cushioned running shoe that has a softer midsole and greater flexibility is preferred.

When is it time to buy new running shoes?

Dr. Robinson offers this schedule as a general rule of thumb:

  • Replace shoes after wearing them for 3 to 6 months, especially if you suddenly get increasing pains after exercise.
  • Replace shoes when the heels appear crushed down, especially if you walk or run regularly.
  • If you run or walk 12 to 15 miles a week, replace your shoes every six to eight months.

On average, most people need to replace their running shoes every year or year and half. This is especially true for walkers who tend to underestimate the amount of wear and tear they put on their sneakers.

When is it time to see a doctor?

You should see a podiatrist if you have swelling or if you consistently have pain in your feet within an hour or two after you finish your walk or run. For distance runners who often have toe injuries, any sign of infection, redness or increased pain is a sign that you need to see a doctor.

And finally, take note, the same black shoe rule that I learned holds true for running shoes as well. Every shoe has its purpose and occasion. The running or walking shoes that you choose to invest in should spend their time in your closet while you’re at work or doing errands. Keep the fashionable sneakers for errands and fun. As Dr. Robinson says, "Wear your running shoes for exercise only, and you’ll get the most out of your investment."

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