Finding the right running shoe is vital to a good running experience.
As fall approaches, the experience of getting outside and going for a run in the beautiful weather with great tunes playing in the background can take your breath away (literally). However, it is important to be prepared with appropriate running shoes.
I usually recommend my patients go to a local running store with a good track record (no pun intended)—some of my favorites are Sound Runner in Branford, CT; Marathon Sports in Boston, MA; Feet First in Columbia, MD and New York Running Company in New York, NY. Nothing beats a hands-on (or feet-on) approach to finding the best kicks for your run.
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Wherever you decide to go it is important that they look at the alignment of your hips, knees, ankles and feet. Often times, problematic running gaits start from higher up in the body than just your feet. Certain running shoes can accommodate malalignment of the lower leg joints. For example, if your knees tend to be more knock-kneed, it may benefit you to have arch supports.
Know your terrain. The least stressful surface to run on is a nice grass and dirt surface, in terms of force that your body sees—that is followed by a well-made track, then pavement, then a cement sidewalk and then the treadmill (worst surface in terms of constant impact). Adjust your shoe for your terrain—invest in trail shoes so you avoid ankle sprains on the uneven dirt paths; pick a lighter shoe for racing; and certainly check out a cross-training shoe for the days when you may do HIIT (high intensity interval training) at the gym.
Decide how much stability you need in your shoe. Just because the shoe may cost more, does not necessarily mean it is the right type for you. Typically stability shoes tend to be more expensive than neutral shoes. Stability shoes are for people who pronate, or run more on the inside of their foot. You can refer to the wear pattern on your current running shoe to see if you supinate (wear on the outside of the shoe), are neutral (wear in the center of the forefoot), or pronate (wear on the inside forefoot).
Don’t forget to pick good socks as well. Socks will help to prevent annoying blisters and decrease friction between your foot and your shoe. Synthetic and natural fiber (ex/wool) wick away sweat and water. Limit extra seams or any extra bumps. Areas of compression (ex/around the arch) can improve comfort with longer runs.
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