What You Must Know Before Buying Running Shoes

Running ShoesMany residents in our Indianapolis community stay active in a variety of different ways. One of the more easily accessible forms of exercise, whether here or just about anywhere else, is running. If you’re a local runner, you probably realize we have great resources in town in the form of stores like Bluemile Running and Athletic Annex.

This particular exercise is a fantastic way to burn calories, improve your cardiovascular conditioning, and relieve stress. Of course, as with any physical activity, there’s a certain degree of injury risk. With running, there is a great risk of overuse injuries, which shoes have a singificant role in, than acute injuries. You can reduce your risk of injury while running by making sure you have the right running shoes. Here are some quick tips when you need to pick up some new footwear:

  1. Go to a store that caters to runners. Going to a non-specialized store for running shoes is a lot like taking your car to a “quick service oil change” place for extensive brake work. Sure, it’s possible to come across someone who is knowledgeable and actually able to help, but the odds aren’t too great. In the same way you’re better off going to a full-service mechanic in the first place, buy your running shoes at a store—like Blue Mile or Athletic Annex—where employees actually know about which shoes will work best for your unique feet and pronation pattern. The shoe stores in the mall generally have noone with experience and a list of shoes they want to move rather than the shoes you need.
  2. Go shopping later in the day. Everyone knows “the early bird gets the worm,” but the early bird shouldn’t go shopping for shoes right after getting that worm! Feet swell during the course of the day. As such, they’re bigger at night. You need shoes that fit well—not too tight—during all hours, so buy your running footwear later in the day.
  3. Find shoe models that work with your particular pronation style. Generally, there are three different biomechanical patterns – normal, overpronation, and supination. These relate to how much (or little) your foot rotates during the ground portion of a step. Shoe manufacturers develop specific kinds of shoes that are best for each style. In the case of a normal pronation, you can wear any styles you want - even those extinct minimalist shoes (but don't get me started!). Overpronators need shoes that offer motion-control features for enhanced stability. Supinators (UNDERpronators) need extra cushioning. Not sure which mechanical pattern you have? We can help! Come see us at our office (we’re conveniently located right next to Fort Ben) and we can identify your style and provide specific running shoe recommendations for you.
  4. Choose well-constructed models. Regardless of your mechanics, you want to buy durable shoes that offer features like robust arch support, shock absorption, and an outsole that will hold up over time.
  5. Don’t rely on the printed size. It’s a common mistake to simply go by the size listed on the label or, worse, the box (since customers may have accidentally placed the wrong shoes back in them while trying on several pairs). The problem with this is not all shoe manufacturers’ sizes are the same. A size-10 for one brand could easily be a 9 ½ or 10 ½ for another. The indicated size should only be viewed as a guideline! Trying the shoe on is the final test and this is why buying online has its risks.
  6. Try on both shoes. It’s common for feet to not be the same exact size – one is often bigger than the other. This means you run the risk of trying on a shoe that fits your smaller foot properly, but the other shoe will then be too small for your bigger foot. Instead, have both of your feet measured, and then try on and buy a pair of running shoes that fit to the bigger foot.
  7. Bring your running socks with you. When you buy shoes, athletic or otherwise, you should always make sure you bring the socks you plan to wear with the shoes. Dress socks are generally thinner than running socks (which have more cushioning), and this affects the fit of the shoes.
  8. Make sure your orthotics fit. If you wear orthotics, make sure your running shoes have room for them. These devices are intended to improve your foot function and keep you safe from serious issues, so you should always use them when running. A good quality shoe will have insoles that are removable - take these out. It’s a problem if your shoes are too tight with your orthotics in or too small to accommodate them. I have seen patients use the insole on top of their orthotics; this lessens the correction.

If you're not a runner and walking or hiking is your pleasure, my go-to boot stores are Rusted Moon Outfitters in Broad Ripple and REI in Castleton.

These pointers will help lead you in the right direction when buying running shoes. If you have any questions, need further assistance, or require treatment for a foot or ankle injury sustained while training or racing, simply give us a call at (317) 545-0505 and we will be glad to help!

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