By: Steve Deal
The type of shoe you choose for your walking or running activity may be the single best insurance you can buy to reduce your chance of injury. I find that most people look for two things in a shoe: cushion and style. The problem here is that cushion, while it may feel good initially, does not offer the stability that most people need. A lack of stability in a shoe can cause the majority of weight-bearing injuries to the ankles, knees, hips and lower back. Remember, it is nice to look good while you are exercising, but how can you continue to look good if you are injured?
Where to Buy Your Shoes
I recommend that you buy your exercise shoes from a reputable local running store. Such stores seem to employ more experienced runners/walkers who are excited to share their knowledge with you than do department or warehouse stores. If you do not have a local store, I have had good success with Road Runner Sports; visit them online at www.roadrunnersports.com. The Web site’s Shoe Dog (click on “Expert Shoe Help”) will help you get into the proper shoe.
What to Bring to the Store
Bring your old running shoes so that store employees can look at the wear pattern, which will help them recommend the proper shoe. They also will be able to tell you whether your shoes are ready to be replaced. If you wear orthotics or insoles, make sure you bring them, as some shoes may be unable to accommodate the extra space needed by these support devices.
Questions the Store Should Ask You
- How many miles a week do you run or walk?
- Will these shoes be used for training, racing or casual exercise?
- Have you had any injuries in the last year?
- What shoes have you had good experience with in the past?
- What is your shoe budget or price range?
- What type of surface do you run on (street, track, dirt path)?
What the Store Should Look For
First, employees at a good store will watch you run down the sidewalk to look at your running gait. This will lead them to certain models that best fit your needs and will also allow them to see which of the ones they have recommended work best. Sec-ond, of course, they will also look at the shape, width and size of your foot and the type of arch you have.
- Shoes start to break down over time just by sitting in their box. For this reason, I do not recommend buying a shoe older than last year’s model.
- If you are not sure when to replace your shoes, take them to your local running store and have the shoes evaluated.
- Take a few pairs of shoes out for a run down the sidewalk to see how they feel before you buy them. A shoe that feels good sitting in the store may not be your best choice once on the road.
- Wearing socks of different thicknesses will affect your shoes’ fit. Consider purchasing a few pairs of exercise socks with the same thickness.
Also, check your feet daily for blisters, cuts or sores, and notify your doctor right away if they do not heal. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Some complications of diabetes can be worsened by exercise.