Number one mistake most shoe buyers made: Buying shoes based solely on style or what friends are wearing. Picking the right shoe for your foot type and biomechanics should be your top priority. Most specialty running stores can advise you—they have well-trained staff who can assess your arches and evaluate your pronation (the way your foot moves as you walk and jog). There’s also an easy try this at-home test: Wet your foot, then step on a paper bag. What shape do you see?
- If you see a big gab between the heel imprint and the ball imprint, you have a High arch, which means you may underpronate (land on the outside of your feet), which can cause too much shock to travel up your legs. Look for a neutral or cushioned shoe.
- If you see a Normal arch: You probably have few foot or pronation problems. A neutral shoe is your best bet.
- If the imprint left behind is even and visible from heel to toe, you have a Flat arch, which means that you likely overpronate (your feet turn inward too much). Try neutral or stability shoes.
Here are Health Fitness Revolution‘s tips to finding the perfect shoe for your activities and workouts:
- Bring your own socks: the ones you wear while running or walking. If you wear orthotics, bring those, too. Shoes need to fit with the orthotic inside and you’ll be able to really gauge the perfect fit you’re after.
- Shop toward the end of the day: Feet swell over the course of the day; they also expand while you run or walk, so shoes should fit your feet when they’re at their largest.
- Ask for Help: If you’re in a specialty athletic shoe store, ask the sales associates for help, most are trained to point you in the right direction and have heard a lot of feedback on the models they carry from previous customers.
- “Breaking Shoes in” is a Myth: Running and walking shoes should feel comfortable right away. Walk or run around the store a bit to make sure they feel good in action. If they are already painful, they most likely aren’t the right shoe for you.
- Use the rule of thumb: There should be about 3/8-1/2 inch between the front of your big toe and the end of the shoe – about a thumb’s width. Your heel should not slip out when you walk. You should also be able to freely wiggle your toes in the shoes.
- Understand the bells and whistles: Some models of running shoes look like they’re designed for space travel, but a lot of those crazy looking features actually serve a purpose. Clear inserts, filled with gel, Freon, or air, provide extra shock absorption, as do those springy-looking things. These features are especially good for people who tend to get heel pain, and not so good for people whose ankles twist easily, as shoes with extra cushioning tend to provide less traction.
- Get a good quality shoe: Good-quality running and walking shoes are fairly pricey – and usually worth it. A $15 shoe will not be as good as an $80 shoe. But you’ll pay a premium for super-fashionable styles or those associated with a celebrity – and they won’t be any better for your feet. So go for a good quality shoe that will keep you healthy and active!
- Know when to replace them. The average pair of running shoes should be replaced after about 350-400 miles of use. Better yet, go by how your shoes look and feel. Once the back of the sole is worn out or the shoe feels uncomfortable or less supportive, it’s time to get a new pair.