The choice of topic this week may surprise you but I couldn’t walk pass the fact that I see many people working their arse off when running outdoors or attending our Callanan FitClub sessions, but when it comes to choosing the right footwear they seem to forget that their feet and ankles are under a lot of demand during exercise and if not supported by the right shoes they risk injuries.
Some of these injuries like plantar fasciitis or shin splints build up over time and can become extremely painful. The causes of these conditions are not always clear, but not having supporting footwear during exercise can add to the problem, so let’s dig in and see how to buy the right shoes in 9 steps.
1. Know your foot
There are many things to consider when buying shoes including the shape of your feet, how low or high your arch is, how stable your ankles are and what your stride is like. If you have low to no arch or your ankles twist easily you’d like to go for shoes with motion control and maximum support.
If you walk/run “heavy-footed” you can benefit from inserts filled with gel, air or Freon as they provide extra shock absorption but are risky for people with unstable ankles. Ensure you buys your gym or running trainers from shops where the staff is experienced and can help you make the right decision.
2. One pair of shoes, one task
Your feet need different support for different activities. Walking shoes are more rigid, whilst running shoes and gym trainers are more flexible and better cushioned to handle greater impact. Don’t use the same pair of shoes for the two, have one designed for each task.
3. Keep track of your shoe size
The size of your foot changes as you age, just as other body metrics, ensure you check it regularly. Also keep in mind the sizing between brands can be different, shop by how the shoe fits your feet, not by the number.
4. Shop towards the end of the day
Our feet swells as the day goes by, they also expand when we exercise and you want to make sure your trainers fit your feet at their largest. Schedule your trainer shopping after work or at least towards the end of the day.
5. Take your socks and insoles for shopping
If you have to wear orthotics in your shoes or have particular insole needs, make sure you take them when you’re going for shopping new footwear. They need to fit your foot with those inside and if you try shoes on without them, you won't be able to feel if they're big enough.
6. Breaking in is a myth
Do you remember your grandparents or parents kept saying that you need to break in a new pair of shoes? Forget it. Shoes, especially the ones designed for running or gym use need to be comfortable from the get go. If they don’t feel right for a minute while walking around he shop, how do you expect them to support your feet during 30+ minutes of demanding exercise sessions or running?
7. Thumb for the rescue
Running and gym trainers need to support your heels, ankles, mid-foot and fit nicely to the shape of your feet, but should leave some room for the toes to move at the front. However, this shouldn’t be achieved by purchasing the new trend “trainers” available from Primark that have a wide front, instead ensure you have enough room, about the size of your thumbnail between the big toe and the front end of the shoe.
8. Focus on the asymmetry
According to studies 80% of runners buy shoes that are too small for their feet. Podiatry Ireland says that in most of the cases that’s because people buy for their smaller foot. Make sure you try on both shoes and buy the size that fits well the bigger foot.
9. Know when your shoes need to retire
After about 350-400 miles the average running shoe should be replaced. How long you actually should keep them in employment depends on how you feel wearing them. Once the sole is worn out or you don’t feel your feet are as supported as they used to be, it’s time to look for fresh replacement. If you run and/or exercise daily, you should alternate at least two pairs of trainers to let the soles recover between uses.
Seriously, if you made the decision to take care of your body by exercising regularly may that be running, group classes, personal training or pace walking, ensure you also take care of it by using supportive gear to prevent impact related injuries and pain.
Have you got more questions on how to choose the right shoes for your training? Get in touch and one of our team members will be happy to answer!