Six Tips to Help You Select the Appropriate Running Shoe
Appropriate running shoes are vital to the success and health of endurance runners. Selecting a shoe can be confusing, especially with buzz words like minimalist shoe, barefoot running, motion control, and over-pronation (to name a few). So, how do you select the right running shoe? The most important thing to remember is that running shoe selection needs to be customized to the individual. When the runner does not wear the appropriate shoes, it can lead to injury. Be cautious taking advice from retail employees, friends, and fitness magazines.
What do we know? Changing running shoes should have a purpose. If you are maintaining your typical mileage, training, and remain pain-free, you should stick with the same shoe choice—it already works for you. Increasing your mileage or training intensity may require footwear modification. However, these should be done in small increments with ample time for adjustment.
Here are six tips to help you select the appropriate running shoe for you:
- Minimize drop: The difference in height between the toes and the heels is called the drop. Typical running shoes have a 12mm drop that can bias muscle utilization and cause imbalance in the legs. A drop of 8mm or less allows for more appropriate movement.
- Lightweight: Shoes that are lightweight have proven to reduce energy demands when compared to heavier shoes or even barefoot running.
- Mild cushioning: Shoes with too much cushioning fail to control, stabilize, and provide shock absorption. Over-cushioned shoes also decrease body awareness and cause the body to incorrectly compensate in the legs. Mild and somewhat firm cushioning are best and can provide minor energy conservation without the negative effects.
- Proper Fit: Shoes need to complement your foot’s structure and allow it to move naturally. The fit should keep your foot in its natural alignment and be comfortable. The front part of the shoe, called the toe box, should not be narrow, reducing your toes’ ability to assist in balance and stabilization.
- Replacement: Breakdown in shoes reaches a point where it starts influencing your movement around 200 miles. It is recommended that you do not train beyond 300 miles in a single pair.
- You are your best piece of equipment: While the appropriate shoe can provide benefits to keeping you healthy as a runner, they are not the most important part of the equation. Cross-training and good running form are the most significant factors to reduce injury and maintain health.
Ali Ladak PT, DPT is a physical therapist at MossRehab Center City, 2400 Market Street, Marketplace Design Center, Philadelphia, PA, 19103. For information, call 215-523-7600.