Running Shoes; has common sense been left behind?
This is the eternally confusing question for many runners: What is the best shoe for me? There seems to be an ever swinging pendulum between high stability shoes and minimalist shoes. There is so much confusion out there between the marketing from shoe manufacturers, “expert opinions”, testimonials and evangelists, old myths, and dogma, that somewhere along the way common sense has been left far behind.
The most comfortable shoe is usually the best shoe for YOU.
Absent of a medical condition or foot deformity (over-pronation not included) requiring a specific shoe prescription, let's take the pressure off finding the right shoe. Surprise or not, your body is pretty good at selecting shoes. The most comfortable shoe is usually the best shoe for YOU. The evidence we have to date has consistently come back telling us this. In the process of finding a comfortable shoe, there are only a few things you need to worry about. Is this shoe wide enough to fit your forefoot? Does the shoe fit the longest toe? Does the shoe fit around your heel snugly?
What about the cushion, motion control, heel to toe drop, weight, etc…..?
Realize that shoes are just a tool. The same way a bike is a tool as is a wetsuit. Yes, there are going to be certain aspects of different “tools” that will better suit our specific biological make up. But remember that there are other factors which make a bigger difference: how you run, cadence, and a proper training program, among others.
Also, we can pick the right tool for the job. A lighter less cushioned shoe for track night, a more cushioned shoe for the longer runs, and something in between.
What about the new _____ shoes? I heard they are the best.
If you have been running for a while and have found the shoes that work for you. GREAT! Don’t get caught up in the hype of new technology. Or if you want to try it out, make sure you incorporate them in slowly. Quick changes can often derail the best plans.
Rotating multiple different shoes can reduce injury
Run in multiple pairs of different types of shoes. One study found a 39% reduced risk of running injury among runners using different pairs of shoes through the week. The different shoes will slightly change and shift the stress to different tissues in your legs which will aid in reducing the repetitive loading of the same areas.
Additionally, your shoes need a chance to recover between runs! The foam needs a chance to rebound after a run. In addition having different shoes will prolong the life of each pair of shoes.
Picking the shoes
Find a local running shoe store which allows you to test out the shoes, most of them do these days. Find a few pairs which tick the boxes below. Then go out and test them. Which ones FEEL the best? Which ones allow you to run comfortably and fit your foot?
- Is this shoe wide enough to fit your forefoot?
- Does the shoe fit the longest toe?
- Does the shoe fit snugly around your heel?
- Test them out!
Yes, it is that simple for most people. It is easy to get caught up in the hype, marketing, and latest trends. Don’t let that intimidate you. Keep it simple and go train.