Picking the Right Running Shoes

How many of you out there are running in shoes that are not comfortable? Many times I have gone to a running store where they have measured my foot length/width then had me stand on a force plate to measure my weight distribution and arch type.  Following their recommendation I purchased the shoes and went for a run.  While running I realized that the shoe wasn’t that comfortable but I figured I had to “break them in”.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?  

Footwear recommendations are typically based on arch height and plantar shape.  Example:  high/normal arch= neutral shoe, moderate arch drop=stability shoe, severe arch drop=motion control shoe.    This process is utilized to reduce injury risk by providing proper support/alignment as needed.  But does this approach work?

Let’s look at what the research studies show… A study was done by Knapik et al (2009) J Strength Cond Research which looked at US Army Basic Combat Training recruits.  1,530 recruits were given running shoes based on plantar shape and 1,532 recruits received a stability shoe.   The findings were that there was no difference of injury incidence between the 2 groups.  The study was repeated two more times, once with Marines and then again with the Air Force, both of which showed no significant difference between the 2 groups.   So what should the runner do?  

Let comfort dictate shoe selection!

Here is some other advice regarding footwear. If you are a heel striker, avoid shoes with a lateral (outside) flare at the heel and a large heel drop. If you are a midfoot/forefoot striker, avoid shoes with a lateral flare at the midfoot/forefoot. Lastly, the runner should always select the most colorful shoe to make you feel faster!  I hope this information helps and if you are dealing with an injury please contact your local physical therapist that specializes in treating the injured runner. 

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John R. Thomas, PT, DPT, OCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Orthopedic Certified Specialist

Alex Goldenring