How to Choose your Next Pair of Shoes – By Podiatrist Chris McCormick

With the increase in running as a recreational activity in the 1970s, so too came the increase in the athletic running shoe market. The global running shoe market is now valued at over USD$75 billion and growing, with popular brands like Asics, Brooks, New Balance producing large varieties of running shoe models. What does this mean to you as a runner? Go into your local retailer and there will be close to a hundred different running shoes on the wall; how do you decide? A running shoe can help or hinder you, and it’s important that you get the selection right each time. Below are 4 tips to help you when selecting your next running shoes.

Fit: The shape of the shoe is critical to ensuring you get the best performance out of your shoe; it should closely match the shape of your foot. If your foot is narrow and shallow, then the shoe should match accordingly. If your foot looks more like Frodo’s foot, then the shoe needs to accommodate this feature. Helpful tip: Take the sock liner (innersole) out of the shoe, stand on it and see how your foot sits on it. If your foot hangs over the edge, then your foot is too wide for this shoe!

Style: The explosion of barefoot running in the early 2010s led to a significant shift in running shoe designs. Traditional shoes became lighter and less chunky. There are three distinct categories of running shoes: traditional, lightweight, and minimalist or barefoot. Traditional shoes, like an Asics Kayano or Brooks Adrenaline, are the most common shoes and work well for a vast majority. Lightweight shoes, like the Asics DS Trainer or Mizuno Sayonara, are excellent for speed-based training or as a primary shoe for the efficient runner. Minimalist shoes have very little material and are designed to give the runner a greater contact with the ground. Helpful tip: Did you know that every 100g of weight = 1% oxygen efficiency? Will this alter your selection of shoe?

Support: Each model of running shoe will offer a slightly different level of support internally. Broadly speaking, traditional running shoes can be broken down into two further sub-categories in terms of support: those that have medial support and those that don’t. A shoe with medial or “arch” support will have a hard piece of rubber on the inside of the shoe, through the midsole. Helpful tip: A shoe with medial support with wear out more quickly on the outside than the inside, altering the function of the shoe.

Pitch: This refers to the difference in the height of the midsole, between the heel and the forefoot. Each of the main running shoe brands will use a different pitch height in their key models. It is important to know what the pitch of your shoes has been previously, as a drastic change in this when changing shoes could lead to injury. Helpful tip: A high pitch (12 or 14mm) will be helpful in reducing some heel and Achilles pain.

Above all, your running shoes should be immediately comfortable when wearing them for the first time; you should never need to “wear in” a pair of running shoes. If in doubt regarding the best shoe for you, book an appointment to seek the advice of your expert Podiatry team at Pinnacle Health Group.

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