Running Part II: Choosing The Correct Footwear
Updated: Sep 7
A recent study by the American Athletics Association found that up to 75% of amateur runners wear footwear that are too small for them. This is an incredibly high percentage. With the dramatic growth of the sport in recent years, running footwear has become a billion dollar industry. There is now a wealth of information on running footwear on the internet, however often it can be heavily sponsored or advertised by footwear companies. All this information can be somewhat overwhelming for what should be a reasonably straight forward process of selecting a running shoe. In this article we will give some simple tips and debunk some myths that will leave you better equipped for your next running shoe purchase.
Tip #1 Measure your foot
Measure your foot. In fact, measure both feet as commonly one can be longer than the other. Go with the longer foot as your shoe size. Remember, in order to measure your foot correctly, it is from your heel to your longest toe (this may not always be your big toe). From this measurement it is advised to go half a size bigger when selecting a running shoe to account for swelling during running, especially if you are a distance runner of 10km+
Tip #2 Try on the shoe
Try on the shoe. Unless you are buying a second pair of the same shoe, avoid buying running shoes online. Each brand’s sizing is different, so it is always best to try on the shoe in a shop. When you try on the shoe there are checks you should carry out. Firstly, in a standing position there should be a thumbnail’s length from the end of the shoe to your longest toe.
Secondly, where possible take the insole out and place your foot on the insole. This will give you an indication of whether the shoe is too narrow or wide for your foot. Check to see if your foot fits on the insole or if it falls over the edges. Unfortunately, nowadays style often trumps comfort in the design of shoes and people choose a shoe that is too narrow for their foot. If you have a particularly wide foot check for brands that offer a narrow and wide option. Some of the more reputable running brands have this option.
Finally, when the shoe is laced, check that you can slide your index finger down between the space of the tongue of the shoe and your foot (see picture).
Tip #3 Light v heavy
Choose the one that feels more comfortable. Some people prefer a light flexible running shoe while others prefer a more traditional rigid and stable shoe. There is no evidence to support one over the other but in general, a lighter shoe is more suited to even terrain and faster runners over shorter distances. However, it won’t have the same ankle support as a heavier shoe. A heavier more rigid shoe will give greater stability, if you have a history of ankle sprains this may be a better option for you or if you occasionally go over uneven terrain. If you trail run choose a specific trail runner.
Tip #4 Orthotics and arch height
Nowadays when you enter a sports shop they will have a treadmill and some fancy software that they claim can assess your foot biomechanics and arch height. Be weary of such sales. Remember these tools and software are only as good as the person using them. If you are unsure about your arch height or whether or not you should be wearing orthotics check in with your Chartered Physiotherapist who specialises in foot assessments. They will be able to do a thorough assessment of your foot biomechanics and arch height and prescribe accordingly.
To learn more, or speak to one of our physiotherapists email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 087-6156270. We offer video running assessments in the clinic which includes foot assessment, shoe fitting, posture analysis where compensatory patterns are measured electronically while running and exercise prescription for running.
Stay tuned for our upcoming running blogs on running related injuries, foot placement, running posture and more.