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The absolute #1 most important factor in choosing your running shoes.

 

Shoes are an important piece of running, right? You need to have a solid pair of shoes that will support your feet, cushion your joints, and withstand the miles. So, quite obviously, you need to use a pair of running shoes that are amazing. 

But how do you know which ones you should be using? There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of options out there. Cushion, motion control, heel drop, no drop, medial posting, barefoot, thick soled, narrow, wide, trail, road, track, indoor... the options go on.

Are you increasing your miles and wondering if you should get a new pair?

Or have you just been advised to change your shoes based on your foot type and are unsure if you should change?

Before you get caught up in the minute details, you need to answer one question.

The comfort filter

The question that you need to ask yourself is this: "Is this shoe comfortable?". 

That's it. That should be the primary filter when choosing new shoes.

I know. It sounds too easy of a question. But isn't that actually the foundation of why running companies spent millions on research and development of their innovative shoes? Being able to run comfortably and reduce injury?

If it feels good on your feet, then it is the correct shoe for you.

If the answer is "no this shoe is not comfortable", then quite obviously it is not the best fit for your foot.

I don't care how many pressure plates you have stepped on, what your Physical Therapist saw during your running screen, or what your running specialist said works for your foot type.

If it is not comfortable, your body will respond to that. It will change movement patterns to avoid pain and discomfort. Now think how that change can negatively impact you over 30 miles/week over 6 months.

The outcome of that? Injury. Not being able to run. Not a great outcome, is it?

Wouldn't it be better if it were comfortable?

Comfort is the answer to finding the correct running shoe

So here's the simple answer to your running shoe problems: If they feel good, keep using them.

There are brands of shoes that I hate and think put out trash shoes; but if a patient says they feel good, then I encourage them to keep using them.

I've had patients tell me that they use trail shoes for road running. Ideal? Not from a theoretical, textbook perspective, but yes, ideal for their needs.

On the contrary, I have had patients tell me they recently switched their shoes and had pain begin since the switch. So what do I tell them? Switch back! 

The caveat

Here's the caveat to that. There's always a "but" isn't there?

What if you cannot find a good shoe? You have tried everything, but nothing seems to work. Every shoe results in the same thing - foot pain, hip pain, knee pain. What then? Just keep searching for comfort?

Maybe in this case we are blaming the wrong thing. Maybe it isn't the shoe.

Could it be you? 

How is your arch control, ankle strength, hip stabilization? Is your lack of hip rotation causing excess movement during the swing phase of gait and too much pronation?

A shoe can only do so much to correct the body's limitations. So before we blame the shoes, consider a runner's assessment. Not to determine which shoe you need to buy, but to assess your movement and mobility to determine any limitations that your body has. 

If you want help from our doctors of physiotherapy, schedule a Physio Eval. Not only will we assess, but we will also create a plan to make sure you complete your next race successfully.

If you want to get better at running, don't look for better shoes. Build a better runner.

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