Selecting Footwear

Why choose running shoes?

  • Walking or running; running shoes have a variety of unique features that support the anatomy of your feet.
  • These features can help prevent injuries. Common injuries or sources of pain that may be attributed to poor footwear are:
    • Knee, ankle and back pain
    • Plantar fasciitis
    • Achilles tendonitis

Features of running shoes

  • Weight: running shoes tend to be lightweight, flexible and breathable
    • a lighter shoe can reduce the strain on your hip flexor muscles
    • flexibility allows your foot to flex and bend naturally
    • the breathable mesh allows your foot to release moisture from sweat
  • Shape: the shape and last of a running shoe is also helpful in reducing injury
    • the slightly raised heel takes the tension off the Achilles tendon and the cushioned heel pad helps reduce friction along the Achilles tendon
    • the wider toe box provides space for your toes to spread out, reducing friction. This is especially important for diabetics with special foot care needs
  • Cushioning: each brand or shoe has a different cushioning system (i.e. grid, air, gel etc.) one system is not necessarily better – it comes down to preference
    • a running shoe tends to have more cushioning than other shoe styles
    • cushioning is important for shock absorption and comfort
  • Support: one of the most important features of a running shoe is the variable support in the midsole and heel. There are 3 basic levels of support:
    • Neutral: this type of shoe has no added support (occasional small arch piece) and is designed for walkers who have no gait concerns
    • Stability: this shoe provides moderate support for mild pronation of the foot or ankle and or collapsing arches
    • Motion control: this shoe ahs the highest level of support for significant pronation of the foot or ankle or for those with flat feet

How to identify levels of stability

  • Examine the midsole of the inside of part of the shoe. A stability region will feel denser to the touch and will often look different (slightly darker, a design or pattern, the addition of a piece of plastic)
  • The shift in marketing of running shoes, emphasizing how the shoe “looks” can make this more challenging

How do I know if a shoe is right for me?

  • Don’t assume that more support is better. Each walker or running has a unique gait pattern and requires more or less support. Remember the more support a shoe has the less cushioning.
  • Your best bet for determining what level of support you need is to go to a knowledgeable retailer (a store that specializing in running). Staff at these establishments will watch you:
    • Stand and bend
    • walk or run and or
    • look at the wear patterns on the bottom of your current shoes
  • If you over pronate or have significant wear on the inside section of the sole of your shoe, you likely need a more supportive shoe.

Tips for trying on shoes

  • Try a variety of different brands – try not to get caught up in the colour or look of a shoe
  • A running shoe is roomier than a casual shoe – you should be able to wiggle your toes
  • Put on both shoes and walk or run as you normally would – make sure there is no heel slip
  • A well-fitting running shoe does not require any ‘breaking in’ – a Cinderella fit
  • If you wear orthotics, bring them with you

When to replace your shoes

  • Unfortunately, the wonderful features of a running shoe do not last forever
  • Look out for a wrinkled appearance in the cushioning of your shoe, the cushion should bounce back if you push on it
  • Asses the tread on the bottom of your shoe
  • The support and integrity of your shoe should last between 450-800km, after which the risk of injury or discomfort increases