With temperatures increasing people are beginning to come out of the woodwork of their homes and outside to walk or run. Yes, the weather is giving them that runner's "itch." It is important to progress yourself slow and ensure you are wearing proper shoes to help prevent injury. Here are a few tips to help you select the proper running footwear to use when "racking up the miles."
Each person is different as is every shoe; there is no one size fits all. There are various brands and styles of running shoes making it hard to choose one that works best for you. Here are some tips from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) to help you find that "perfect fit." When looking for "the one" you must consider these three things: heel-to-toe drop, stability control, and weight.
Heel-to-toe drop: Look at the toe of your shoe, now follow the sole back to the heel. In many shoes the sole is thicker in the heel than the toes. To find a good shoe, you should look for one that has little (6mm) to no difference in thickness from the toe to the heel. This promotes the foot to normally support loading during each gait cycle.
Stability Control: Most think that if they have foot that pronates (rolls inward, flat foot) they should buy a shoe with a high arch to help support their foot. This is wrong. Here's why. When running, the foot naturally pronates to absorb shock when weight is placed into the foot. If there is too much arch support it does not allow the foot to move appropriately. In return, it may cause problems at the foot and/or knee to occur. For this reason, the most appropriate stability control is neutral. The ACSM recommends for those with excessive pronation to perform exercises for the hip, leg and foot to improve them, and to only wear arch supports temporarily (less than 6-8 weeks) if needed.
Weight: According to the ACSM the recommended weight for men in a size 9 shoe is 10 ounces or less, and women 8 ounces or less for size 8 shoe.
When you are in a store, try them on. Walk around; be sure your heel doesn't slip. Then, feel your big toe, there should be a ½ inch (about a thumbs width) from your big toe to the tip of the shoe. The toe box of the shoe should be wide enough to splay (spread out) your toes. Not sure if your shoe is wide enough? Take out the insole and place your foot on it. Your foot should not lie over the edges of it. Having enough room in the shoe is important as it allows space for proper movement to distribute impact forces throughout the foot. If a shoe assistant is available, have him/her size your feet and watch you run, not walk as your foot moves differently running than when walking.
If you know your shoe size and want the luxury of staying home there are websites to assist you in your search. One site, www.roadrunnersports.com has feature called the "shoe dog." The shoe dog will ask you questions and then "go fetch" shoes to fit your specific needs.
So before lacing up and heading out, check your running shoes. If their soles are worn, and they have carried you 350 miles it may be time to retire them. When you do, use these helpful tips to find that perfect fit. For more information on related topics such as; problematic shoe lacing, keeping active, or staying hydrated, check out our other blogs.