Step with Ease: How to Select the Right Running Shoe
You put your headphones on and lace up your favorite pair of sneakers; it’s time for that afternoon run. But beware: Just because you may reach for that same pair all the time, it does not mean that it is necessarily right for your feet. In fact, many foot problems stem from wearing the incorrect shoes—something we have grown accustomed to when often choosing fashion over function.
According to Daniel Farber, MD, Foot and Ankle Surgeon at Penn Medicine, selecting the proper running shoe is important, as the pressure put on the heel or ball of the foot by wearing a shoe that doesn’t fit properly can lead to pain, stress fractures, bunions and other toe deformities.
To start, knowing when to buy a new pair of running shoes is just as important as knowing what to purchase. Dr. Farber recommends replacing your pair as it shows signs of wear-and-tear, approximately every 3-6 months, but other factors can come into play.
“With less activity, once a year is adequate,” he advises. “If a shoe is in good condition, but has lost the cushioning of its insole, you can oftentimes simply rehab it with an over-the-counter insert. However, if the shoe looks and feels worn and doesn’t support your foot well, replace it no matter what the age.”
Now that you know when to kick your current pair to the curb, how do you choose the right shoe for you, with the array of options presented?
1. Go for comfort.
Don’t let size fool you when shoe shopping. Some brands run small, while others run on the larger side. If you see a shoe that appears to fit the shape of your foot, try it on. It may just be the perfect fit (and you may even love the way it looks, too).
2. Select the pair that best conforms to your feet.
Avoid a shoe that is too loose or too tight—and don’t expect it to stretch later. Ensure there is enough space (3/8” to 1/2”) for your longest toe at the end of each shoe. Also make sure that the ball of your foot comfortably fits into the widest part of the shoe.
3. Measure both feet regularly.
According to Dr. Farber, the true size of your feet can be deceiving because they measure slightly differently at various times. Measure both feet regularly, since foot size can change with age and, for women, with pregnancy. Because most people have one foot that is larger than the other, ensure the shoe fits to the larger foot.
4. Stand and walk in each pair. Have you ever bought shoes, only to realize later that they are really uncomfortable? It happens to everyone. Sitting when trying out various pairs won’t show you how they truly feel. Stand up and walk around to get a feel for them.
Once you’ve found the pair that best suits your needs, wear it well. But don’t forget to check the condition of your shoes and measure your feet again in a few months. Keeping these tips in mind will give you the knowledge you need to walk and run with pain-free feet.
If you have additional questions, reach out to your doctor. The Penn Sports Medicine Center is comprised of a team of doctors, nurses and physical therapists who take a whole-body approach to diagnosing and treating joints, muscles and bones impacted by sports injuries. Visit pennmedicine.org/sports or call 800-789-PENN (7366) to schedule your appointment today.This is a paid partnership between Penn Musculoskeletal Center and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio