Do you Know How To Choose a Running Shoe?
There are many types of shoes out there, and if you don’t believe me ask a lady that has a closet full of shoes. While men might complain about this there are tons of shoes that men have as well. I complain my wife has too many shoes all the time, but then I consider the fact that I have work shoes, work boots, hiking boots, running shoes, street shoes, sandals, slippers, dress shoes, and loafers. Women have more names for their shoes then I can count! However, for the sake of argument here, we are just going to be discussing the athletic footwear, primarily running shoes.
If you exercise in any way, especially if you are running or riding a bike, you need to have a good running shoe. There are several reasons for this, but primarily it’s to keep your feet healthy. There is nothing worse than having to walk around on sore feet.
Types of Running Shoes
There are basically two types of running shoes, and what you see in most small stores such as Payless, or the bulk stores such as Walmart and Costco will fit into this category. Shoes for guys and gals have similar features in that the shoe has a curve towards the toes, and there is more of a sole on the shoe. That curve is to fit the natural curve of your foot as you are running. Since we tend to run on the toes, curving the shoe at that point gives more comfort to the foot. This type of shoe is great for those who do a lot of running, treadmill and running-type exercises. This is the most common type, and even some work shoes have a slight tilt towards the toes, but not significant enough to justify using them to work out in. Running shoes have three types: Cushioned, Stability, and Motion Activated. A cushioned running shoe has more cushion to support your foot, which helps those with high arches. A running shoe for stability are for those with normal arches and the shoe is designed to fit the normal gap for better performance. The motion activated running shoe is for those with low arches or flat feet, and it provides the support needed for them to run comfortably in.
The other type of shoe is called a cross trainer. A cross training shoe is smaller, it has less of a sole on it, and is completely straight. It helps to keep your foot straight so that when you are working out, no matter the workout, you are using more muscles in the foot, ankle and calf. The shoe is more snug around your food, almost like a second skin at times. (They slip on and off just fine though, so there is no need to feel the need to wedge your foot into it.)
Some stores that sell shoes don’t staff it very well if it is just a part of their store, and not something they cater too. Shoe stores in general want to make the most sales, and will generally recommend the most expensive shoe they have, filling you with misinformation so that you believe it is the best for you. It takes a caring clerk to help a person get the exact shoe they are looking for, without costing them a fortune. (I always spent less than $50 for my shoes, until a recent visit to the foot doctor. See more below.) Shoe stores might also have a lot of a particular shoe in stock, forcing them to try and push it on the customers one way or another.
Keep in mind that this is a generalization though and not a rule. I’ve been to several stores where the clerks are no help at all, and others where the clerks are helpful beyond compare. Recently we visited three different sporting goods stores in hopes of finding a good deal on some cross-training shoes for my wife. (We found several at name brand stores and they were priced over $200). Since her doctor told her to get cross-training shoes and we did our research on them, not it was a matter of finding a style, look, and feel of the shoe she wanted. One sporting goods clerk who stayed in the shoe department and was very helpful to the many customers that were there, could answer the same questions we had already looked up. When asked for a recommendation, he asked us a few questions such as favorite color, type of workout, and size before he showed us a selection. And the ones he thought we would like were between $80 and $90. We ultimately chose a pair of Nike cross-trainers, and she is very comfortable in them.
This just goes to show you that if you know what to ask and what to look for, you will be able to tell if you have a knowledgeable employee willing to help you, or someone just looking to make a sale.
Every doctor is different, and some of them like certain brands or styles better than others. Your recommendation from a doctor may not even come with a brand but rather with a type of shoe to look for instead. The best results are to seek out what they want you to wear, and after you purchase the shoes, but before you wear them, take them back for approval. This way if you need to return the shoes, there should be little to no complaint from the store as they are still new.
Doctors will recommend shoes based on several factors as they want you to be healthy. A Podiatrist in general will examine your feet and will be able to tell you what type of arch you have. This will help you determine a running shoe. Some people however run into foot problems because they should be wearing a cross training shoe instead. The muscles in the foot, and ankle could cause bone spurs and plantar fasciitis. This is a thin web-like ligament in the bottom of your foot. Without proper support, you could feel foot pain, even growing lumps that are swelling of this ligament.
Your feet may not feel sore when you are under 40, unless you are running a lot. However, as we get older our feet are where we are going to start feeling the most pain, especially if we are not wearing proper shoes. Take care of your feet, and be good to them so they are good to you in the future.