Life can be very demanding on your feet, which is why you should at least give them the home they deserve. When it comes to running in particular, your feet are faced with even more pressure to perform, as they are forced to meet the ground at a much higher impact. Without the correct supportive footwear, you can develop an array of problematic symptoms, from cramps to aching heels to even shin splints or knee injuries.
Scared yet? Don’t be! Simply follow this eight step plan, and run away with the perfect shoes for your happy feet.
Step One: Preparation
Before you even leave your house, you need to consider several factors. It is important to be aware that your feet slowly swell throughout the day, and so purchasing a pair of shoes which fit you perfectly in the morning, may not feel as great in the evening. The later in the day you do your shopping, the better. Also ensure your toenails are trimmed, and you are wearing the same type of socks you intend to run in when testing out new shoes. For even greater precision, bring an older shoe along with you, as an experienced sales person can use this to analyze your history like a clairvoyant foot-reader.
Step Two: Choosing the Store
Your best bet here is to find a running store specifically, as their employees will be trained to answer your questions more accurately, and have probably heard everything before. On the other side of this, no matter how tempting it is to be lazy and order your pair online, it’s in your best interest to rather deal with these matters in person, as you will come away with a shoe more appropriate to what you’re looking for, risk free
Step Three: Choosing the Shoe
Naturally, one will always gravitate towards the sexiest shoe on display, but while you don’t want something grotesque, fashion should still be the lowest aspect on your list of priorities. Also remember, while that five star review you read may be encouraging, not any single brand of shoe can cater to every type of foot out there, and you need test out various models before you can truly understand what works best for you. Furthermore, keep in mind that a cheap price tag is there for a reason.
Step Four: Sizing
Your feet are forever changing, so don’t just assume you know your size, and rather ask the salesperson to measure both of your feet, then work with biggest one. Running shoes are often made smaller to hug the foot better, so do not be shocked if you have gone up a size, especially because these units of measurements are not set in stone, and vary between manufacturers. Trust your own judgment, not a number.
Step Five: The Fit
Your time has finally come, and you try on the shoes. The heel should feel cozy but not tight, and you should be able to easily slip the shoe right off when it’s laced and untied. The instep should feel secure, never with any strange pressure. You should be able to move your foot from side to side within the shoe without sliding over the edges of the insole. There should be a thumb space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. All of your toes should wiggle freely. And finally, the shoe should be flexible, creasing with your foot as you bend it.
Step Six: Comfort
Unfortunately, without going for an actual run, you will never know what this shoe can do for you. However, you can get some idea by taking a walk around, paying special attention to the width, as purchasing a size bigger will not address this problem, and you may need a wider shoe. Try pinpoint any strange seams or tags on the inside that may be irritating you, and walk on both hard and soft surfaces to test them out.
Step Seven: Payment
If you are 100% pleased with your chosen shoe, take a moment before hastily whipping out that credit card. First enquire about their return policies, just in case you find something wrong a few days down the line. And it also never hurts to ask for a store discount!
Step Eight: Out in the Wild
As soon as you can, take your shoes out for a spin. Although there will be a degree of “breaking them in”, be very strict about this concept, as they should feel naturally comfortable from the get-go. If you are known to suffer from general heel ache anyway, consider incorporating heel liner and shoe inserts into your regime. And finally, as their name suggests, do not use running shoes for anything other than running! They are not designed for it!
Melissa Bell has a strong background in nutrition education, fitness and yoga, and experience working on specialized stretching, bodybuilding and weight loss programs. She is actively studying Japanese, doing research and travelling for conferences while taking care of two children.