With the snow freshly-melted and people lacing up their running shoes, it’s easy to fall into the habit of sticking with your same old running or hiking shoes. Few people pay more attention to shoe gear than I do. When you walk into our office at Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle, I am likely judging your selection, but that is part of my job.
The first thing that I ask you is always “How are you? And how are your feet?” I didn’t make this up, but one of my more memorable teachers, Dr. Myron Bodman, has been asking that question for years. Often, by looking at your shoe selection alone, I can tell how well your feet are holding up. For our patients who are immensely active—running, training for ultra-marathons, or hiking fourteeners—proper shoe selection is integral.
There are a few pitfalls to watch for that may go under the radar. I do still fall victim to poor selection myself, too. Here’s why: choosing shoes for heavy activity is very difficult. I use every trick I can to break this down, though. I have my favorite shoe brands, which include Brooks, Asics, and Altra shoes, but I often tell patients that brand alone does not matter. I have given myself substantial tendinitis wearing Brooks and Solomon shoes that simply weren’t made for my foot type. The shoes were quality, but not for me.
The most frequently overlooked component of shoe selection is size. Whether you spend $30 or $300, if you are fitted wrong, your shoes will give you a problem. Often, our feet grow as we get older. This isn’t because we are still growing, but because our foot flattens out a bit. This can also make our feet wider, which may limit what brands can be worn. Good New Balance shoes, for example, come in a full range of widths for any size.
As a pronator, what I need to look for are shoes with significant control and support. We call these motion control shoes. They often provide more stability and a thicker outsole. They are often heavier, but are able to control my biomechanics a little better. When I failed other shoes in the past, it was because I was wearing a shoe for people with high arches, or a cavus foot. These shoes, which are ironically called neutral shoes, offer less support but a lot more cushioning for harder heel strike. Someone with a high arch running in minimalist shoes is likely to have a lot of pain along with an increased risk of stress fractures.
To pick out the best shoe on your own, make sure to support your local shoe store. You will always find knowledgeable employees who are able to help out. Out here, I have been running with the Twisted Trails Running Company associates who really know their stuff. Knowing your foot type is essential in getting in good shoes, regardless of brand. If you don’t know your foot type, we can help at Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle, as can these specialty shoe stores. You likely won’t need the most expensive shoes in the store, just the ones that fit you the best.