If you’re a long-distance runner, the quality of your footwear can have a long-term effect on your health. Every time your foot meets the ground, it sends a shockwave of force up through your feet, ankles, legs, hips and into your back. Consider the thousands of times your feet hit the pavement every time you train, and you can begin to see how it adds up.
What is pronation and why does it matter?
Many specialty-running stores have treadmills that will record you as you run. Store associates can use the recording to help you to find out whether your feet roll inwards, outwards, or stay straight. Even if you think your feet don't roll, it's a good idea to get them checked. Long-term ankle damage can occur from running hard with even small variations.
Different shoes are designed to help cope with your running pronation. If you already know that your feet are prone to rolling while running or this is determined at the store, keep this in mind:
- Stability shoes help you to keep your feet straight if they roll inwards.
- Motion control shoes help you to keep your feet straight if they roll outwards or you're flatfooted.
- Neutral shoes are for people whose feet don't have either of these problems. Anyone can use neutral shoes, but the more your feet tend to roll, the more you should consider shoes with stability or motion control.
Tips for getting the right fit
A good tip is to make sure that there is at least a thumbnail's worth of space between the tips of your toes and the end of your shoes. Your toes need to be able to spread and splay to get the maximum force possible when you raise your foot on liftoff.
Other tips to consider when selecting running shoes:
- Comfort and safety over fashion. Do not just choose a pair because they go with your jeans. You are purchasing these shoes to help you keep your body in the best shape possible!
- Measure your feet every time you buy a new pair of shoes. They can change in size and shape over the course of your lifetime, especially if you do a lot of running.
- Don't go for regular tennis shoes or sneakers. While they may be all right for walking and other sports, running requires specific footwear to protect your joints and limbs.
- If you're planning to run off-road or on trails, keep an eye out for shoes specifically designed for outdoor running. In the long run, they will save a lot of wear-and-tear on your feet and ankles.
- When you find a pair of shoes that you like, hold the toe in one hand and the heel in the other and twist. If they twist in your hands easily, you'll know that they are flimsy, and you'll want to find another pair.
Do you really need to spend $100 on running shoes?
Shoes that are designed with specific needs in mind do tend to be on the more expensive side of the scale. However, price is not the sole indicator of quality. It is entirely possible to find running shoes that can meet your needs without paying an exorbitant price.
When you are considering the shoes that you buy, remember that your health and safety come first. Buying a good pair of running shoes will protect your feet and joints, keep you going for years, and help you end up at the finish line first! Just remember that you should replace your shoes every 300-500 miles for the best results.