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How to choose the best running shoes

Runners have unlimited options when it comes to selecting shoes. But with so many choices on the market, how do you find the perfect pair?

Peter Symbas, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Piedmont, shares tips to finding your sole mate.

“Good running shoes are made by almost every company,” says Dr. Symbas.  “So it’s more important to choose a shoe based on comfort and shoe structure rather than looking at the brand.”

If you are looking for new running shoes:

  • Go shopping for shoes in the evening. Feet swell all day, and by the evening they are as big as they are going to get. By trying on shoes in the evening, you ensure your running shoes will never fit too tight.
  • Have your feet sized.  Shoe size may change as you age, so it’s important to have your feet measured every time you are shopping for a new pair of shoes. If one foot is slightly larger than the other, consider purchasing shoes of varying sizes.
  • Leave at least a ½ inch between toes and front of shoe. Feet swell as you run, so leave a thumb’s width of space between the longest toe and the top of the shoe.
  • Don’t buy shoes based on foot pronation. Foot pronation is the way your foot rolls inward when you walk or run. Some runners with over-pronation may be told they need shoes with better arch support. But that isn’t always necessary, says Dr. Symbas.

“There is too much emphasis on pronation and the need to correct it and on heel cushioning,” says Dr. Symbas. “Foot pronation is actually good, because it allows flexibility.In fact, it helps people with pet planus, or flat feet, incur less injuries when running.”

  • Make sure shoes are lightweight. Wearing lightweight shoes may help you run farther and faster. A standard running shoe weighs more than 10 ounces.  Lightweight shoes are 10 ounces or less for a men’s size 9 and 8 ounces or less for a women’s size 8. 
  • Consider neutral or zero-drop shoes. Neutral shoes don’t contain any motion control or stability components that affect normal foot motion. And zero-drop shoes are designed to keep the foot relatively parallel to the ground.

Traditional running shoes cushion the heel and keep it from dropping too far from the ground, which can be hard on the knees and Achilles tendon. 

“This makes sense because the foot is plantar-flexed with the shoe on, which can cause Achilles problems and shin splints,” says Dr. Symbas.  “A good shoe is one that is comfortable and not trying to correct your mechanics.”

Most runners deal with a slight degree of pain throughout their running career. But if you have pain that does not respond to rest and decreased mileage, make an appointment with your doctor.  

To learn more about our orthopedic services, click here.  

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.

 

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