Buying running sneakers? Check these 5 things first

September 29, 2018

If you’re looking for a way to get—or stay—healthy, running is a great option. Running’s positive effects on overall health is well known, from increasing your levels of good cholesterol and lung function to boosting your immune system and aiding in weight loss.

If you’re looking to join the 65 million runners and joggers in the U.S., it’s important to keep yourself safe and comfortable. You should always stretch before any strenuous activity, but the most important aspect of running preparation actually comes before your feet hit the ground—buying the perfect pair of running sneakers. Sounds easy enough—sneakers are sneakers, right? Actually, Orlin & Cohen foot and ankle specialist David I. Zaret, M.D., cautions, “Selecting your sneakers is about more than brand names and color or what your friend the avid runner recommends. Everyone’s feet are different, so it’s important to find the right shoe for you. He suggests you check each pair’s:

  1. Width. You should be able to move your foot side to side a reasonable amount, but not so much that the shoes are too loose. Press your thumb down between the ball of your foot and the edge of your shoe; the perfect fit is between half the length and the full length of your thumb. If your pinkie toe is sitting on the edge of the shoe, the style is too narrow.
  2. Instep. The foot’s instep (or arch) can vary greatly from person to person; that’s why it’s important to determine if you have a high instep or flat feet. Running sneakers should always feel secure around your instep, but you should never feel pressure or tightness.
  3. Flex. This is particularly important. A shoe that’s too flexible can cause arch pain, while one that’s too stiff can cause painful calf strain. This is something you can check before you even try the shoe on. Simply hold the heel steady and push the tip of the shoe toward the floor.
  4. Length. Believe it or not, your feet will actually swell and lengthen over the course of a run. You should have a thumb’s width of wiggle room between your tallest toe and the front of the shoe. This should be checked standing up, so if you’re unable to bend far enough to check for yourself, ask a friend or sales associate to lend you a thumb.

The consequences of wearing the wrong running shoes don’t stop at discomfort—you can develop runner’s knee, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, stress fractures and more. Are you already experiencing foot, ankle or knee pain? Contact the board certified subspecialists at the Orlin & Cohen Orthopedic Group today so you can hit the pavement safely.