In the endless sea of running shoes out there, how do you know what shoe is best for your feet? Here are some general guidelines to consider when picking out your next pair.
Also, remember that if you are changing your shoes, make sure that you allow for a slow transition from one pair to the next, this is even more important the more drastic the change is from one pair to the next.
1. Wide Toe Box
Fashion over function has become the motto of many shoe companies over the years.
As a result, the toe box on shoes has been getting narrower, altering the anatomy of the foot and decreasing its functionality. Not to mention having a narrow toe box also contributes to a whole host of conditions at the foot such as bunions, neuromas, metatarsalgia, and others.
When selecting a running shoe we want to make sure that the toes are able to sit in the shoe without being crowded (see point 5 for a way to test if this is the case or not).
2. Heel to Toe Drop
This refers to the difference between the height that the heel sits off the ground compared to the toes.
Ideally, we would like to see people in a zero drop shoe (the heel sits at the same height as the toes). However, in most instances, shoe companies create shoes without considering your foot function.
Having a zero drop shoe will allow for your foot to function more like a foot should, and reduce forces through your joints by promoting a foot strike closer to your body. However, this being said everyone should not be running off to buy a zero drop shoe if this is not what you typically wear.
Speaking with a skilled practitioner who can assess your anatomy and movement while also providing a plan to transition into a zero drop (or decreased heel to toe drop) shoe is imperative to avoid injury and maximize performance.
3. Stack Height
Here we are talking about the distance between the ground and the bottom of your foot while you are wearing it (how thick is the sole of the shoe).
Your foot is one of the most highly sensory innervated regions of the body because it is designed to communicate with the external environment and then relay those findings back to your brain for processing and taking action!
However, if you have a thick cushion between the ground and your foot you are greatly reducing the ability of your foot to understand and respond to its environment. Just think if you had to wear oven mitts on your hands for most of the day, this is how our feet feel!
4. First Feel
This refers to the sensation that we get when we first slip on a pair of shoes. Do we like them, are they comfortable, can we see ourselves having success in them? If you have a positive association when first trying on your shoes, it has been shown that you will perform better in them.
5. Does the Shoe Fit?
This is the million-dollar question.
One of the easiest ways to determine this is by taking out the factory insert of the shoe, placing it on the ground, and standing on it. If your foot is able to sit on top of the insole without spilling over the edges of the insole you have a shoe that fits.
However, if you are seeing that your foot is spilling over the edges of the insole that means we need to reconsider this particular shoe or size of the shoe. Remember that you should never think that a running shoe can be worn in to fit your foot, it should fit well on day one.
Are you suffering from pain/injury associated with running? Do you need some help and guidance with your training or achieving your running-related goals? We have you covered, reach out to us at 917-494-4284 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also offer FREE 15 minute discovery calls with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy to better help answer any questions you may have about working with us.
The Perfect Stride Team