Running Shoes: Minimizing Foot Problems for Optimal Training
By Arthur Kaplan, D.P.M.
February 15, 2012
Category: Foot Care
Tags: Running Shoes  

Running Shoes

If you’re a runner, then you know that your shoes are an integral piece of equipment when it comes to comfort, performance and injury prevention.  Your foot type,  flat foot appearance (planus) or high arched appearance (cavus) or avererage looking foot type (rectus) will determine which type of running shoe will be best for your unique needs and training regimen. A shoe must properly fit the shape and design of your foot before you can train in it comfortably.

There are several factors to consider when searching for a new running shoe. These may include:

  • Foot structure
  • Foot function
  • Body type
  • Existing foot problems
  • Biomechanical needs
  • Training regimen
  • Environmental factors ie.  Did you run in a lot of rain the past month.  Do you perspire excessicely.  These conditions will break down a shoe faster.
  • Previously worn running shoe
  • What surface will you be running on

Failing to replace old, worn shoes is a major cause of running injuries, as old shoes gradually lose their stability and shock absorption capacity. The typical lifespan of a pair of running shoes is approximately 350-450 miles. It’s important to keep track of their mileage to avoid excessive wear and tear.

One way of keeping a careful eye on your mileage is to wear your running shoes only to jog.  If you run 3 miles a day, 5 times per week,  that's 60 miles per month.  In 6-7 months your shoes are cooked.  You may flip them over to look at the sole of the shoe and not see any excessive wear.  In reality the bottom of your running sneaker is what will take the longest to wear out.  The foundation of the shoe called the last, will wear out first (get it, last, first).  Take your running shoes, after you have used them for a few hundred miles and place them on a table (protect your table with a paper towel.  Lord knows what kind of germs are on the bottom of that shoe).  Observe the sneaker from behind the heel.  Ideally the back of the heel should be perpendicular to the surface on which it is resting on.  After the normal lifespan of a running shoe (350-450 miles),  one or both of your shoes may  be shifted toward the inside or the outside of your foot.  In fact. one foot may move in one direction while the other moves in the opposite.  This is your biomechanical asymmetry.  Running on this type of shoe can easily cause aches and pains in your foot, knee and low back and may lead to more serious injury.  

Helpful tips for choosing your shoes include:

  • Go to a reputable shoe store that specializes in running footwear.  A runners shop is ideal.  You will usually find every conceivable brand and model and sales people who are knowledgeable about running shoes
  • Bring your old/current running shoes with you
  • Know your foot type, shape as well as any problems you’ve previously experienced
  • Have your feet measured
  • Wear the same socks you wear when training
  • Try on both shoes, and give them a test run.  Most runner shops will let you take the sneakers for a short "spin" so you can feel them as you run not just walking around in them in the store.

If you’re a beginning runner and just starting your training regimen, then it’s a good idea to visit Dr. Arthur Kaplan at NY Sports Podiatry for an evaluation. He will examine your feet, identify potential problems, and discuss the best running shoes for your foot structure and type. Seasoned runners should also visit NY Sports Podiatry periodically to check for potential injuries.

Don’t allow poor shoes choices to derail your training program and jeopardize your running goals.  A proper-fitting running shoe is an invaluable training tool that allows you to perform your best without injury or pain. The correct footwear, in combination with a proper training routine and professional attention from a skilled sports podiatrist is the key to minimizing faulty foot mechanics and maximizing your performance.

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