Running is an excellent way to stay healthy and fit, but it can also be a cause for pain and injury. At Integrated Health Solutions, our doctors help patients by assessing for dysfunctions, analyzing movements and evaluating gait. Aside from the anatomy and kinesiology of running, we also want to help patients by ensuring that they are well equipped for the rigors of running – proper hydration and nutrition, good warm-up and cool-down routines, and the right running shoes.
It is important to know when you need a new pair of shoes. In general, running shoes should last 300-500 miles, depending on the type of shoe. Here a few questions to ask yourself if you think it might be time to replace those old runners:
- Have you recently noticed muscle and/or joint pain while running the same route/distance?
- Look at the soles of your shoes – Are the midsoles and outsoles compressed? Is the tread completely worn around the heel and/or toes?
If you determine it is time to retire your favorite pair of running shoes, be mindful of the following to ensure you select the perfect pair for you:
- Running Stride. Grab a pair of well-used running shoes and check the wear pattern on the soles. This will help you determine your running mechanics. (See image below for explanation)
- Neutral — The foot’s natural inward roll following heel strike.
- Over-Supinator — Tend to be runners with high arches and rigid feet; these runners land on the outside edges of their feet.
- Over-Pronator — Tend to be runners with low-arches/flat feet. Fallen arches makes feet more flexible and prone to inward rolling. Pronators would benefit from shoes with medial posts- firm devices in the midsole that decelerate pronation by reinforcing the arches
- Running Shoe Types (most)
- Neutral – can work for mild pronators, but are best for neutral runners
- Stability – best suited for mild to moderate over-pronators
- Cushioned – ideal for runners with high arches and supinators
- Motion Control –best for runners who exhibit moderate to severe over-pronation
- Fit. Feet swell during runs, so don’t buy a pair that are snug. Instead, opt for shoes that at about ¼-½ in. longer than your longest toe (length of a half to full thumbnail). Feet also splay during the striking phase of your gait so make sure there’s room in the toe box. Not only are some brands known for being narrower or wider, most brands offer a range of widths:
- Men’s D (normal), C (narrow), E (wide)
- Women’s B (normal), AA (narrow), C/D (wide)
- Other Considerations. The surface you are running on, how frequent you are running, other activities you are doing in the shoes and the distances you are running are all factors that play into selecting the correct shoe.
- Trail vs. Road — Different terrains demand different shoes
- Cushioning — Maximum cushion offers impact protection and top-of-the-line technology.
- This is ideal for high mileage runners, heavier runners
- 10-12 mm drop– difference between the height of the heel and the height of the toe
- Typically last longer
- Minimalist shoes feature lightweight construction, little to no arch support and a heel drop of 2-8 mm to encourage natural running mechanics and a mid-foot strike
Now that you’ve done your research, and have determined it is time for a new pair of running shoes and you know what you’re looking for, here are a few final tips before you head out to make your purchase (after all, these bad boys could last you up to 500 miles, that’s quite the commitment):
- Take Them for a Test Drive. Go to a Specialty Running Store and let an experienced staff member help you out. This also allows you to test run the shoes in store.
- Swellin’ like a Felon. Try on shoes in the afternoon or later, when your feet are more swollen from being on your feet all day.
- Comfort is King. If they feel great when you run, buy them. Your ideal shoe should feel like an extension of your feet.
Content provided by Dr. Drew Hunt