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10 of the Most Common Questions about Running Shoes

The Shoes Can Make Your Run


Starting to run? You may have already come across a ton of tips. But you should know that one of the most important things you have to consider when you run is shoes. The right shoes can actually help save you from pain and injury, among other things.

People usually have a lot of questions when it comes to running shoes. Listed below are the most commonly asked questions, and some helpful answers, tips and suggestions.

  1. Should you get more than 1 pair of training/running shoes?

It’s actually a pretty good idea to get 2 or 3 different shoe models. It will help your biomechanics to adapt to each shoe and prevent injuries stemming from overuse. It usually takes 24 hours for midsole foams to recover from a run. That means it’s beneficial to have another pair for a morning run if you also do night runs.

However, that’s not exactly a cheap option. If you have enough money to spare for the upfront cost, though, then by all means go for it.

  1. Will the running surface affect shoe breakdown?

The short answer is yes.

Running on roads will always wear shoes faster than running on a trail, for example. But there are other factors affecting the wear and tear of running shoes. Foremost of which is the way you run. If you’re a heavy person who strikes the ground with your heels, for instance, you may wear your shoes faster than a lighter person even if you run on trails and he does roads.

running shoes

  1. When is it time to retire your running shoes?

I’d say go by feel. If you don’t feel like your shoes have provided you with adequate protection after a run, then replace them already. However, if you’re really not sure or just paranoid about it, then just look at your shoes. If it looks pulled and stretched with the foot sliding off the midsole, it’s time to go shopping for a new pair. Ditto if the grooves on the outsole are worn smooth.

Usually, that means having gotten between 300 and 500 miles on them already. Yes, it’s a rather wide range. But remember, a runner’s stride affects how fast his shoes wear out.

  1. What about feet type and arches?

Well, what about them?

If you’re serious about running, you probably already read all about feet types and pronation. In a nutshell, you could have feet with low/flat arch, high arch or normal arch and that affects how your feet hit the ground.

Feet roll inward with every heel strike, that’s what pronation is. Flat arches lead to over-pronation that could result in knee pain. High arches typically under-pronate and thus, be unable to absorb shock as well. This may then result to leg pain and injuries. Normal arches pronate normally.

It’s best to find out what type of feet you have so you can buy the right shoes for it and avoid injury.

  1. How can you tell what type of feet you have?

There are a few tests you can do to check. The wet test entails wetting your sole and checking the pattern your foot leaves behind. The results could be any of the following:

  • normal arch – footprint shows half of arch
  • flat arch – a print of the whole foot is shown
  • high arch – print only shows heel and ball of foot, sometimes with a very thin line outside

The simplest is to just see how you wear out your shoes. If they show wear around the outside edges, you could be under-pronating (high arch). Inward sag is usually indicative of over-pronation (low/flat arch). If the pattern of wear is even, you likely have normal arches.

Of course, there are people who may not fit in the above categories. You may be wearing your shoes along the outside but actually have low arches. Heel strikers (who make up about 80% of runners) tend to wear out the heels of shoes faster, regardless of foot type. There are also a small percentage of people with flat feet who do not over-pronate and instead dispenses the force elsewhere in the foot, knee or hip.

Because of this, the best course of action is still to see a professional to determine the right kind of shoes for you.

  1. Is there any harm in wearing motion-control shoes if you have normal arches?

The answer depends on pronation. People who weight 120 to 140 pounds but over-pronate will benefit from moderate stability shoes. Those who weigh more and over-pronate will be better off with motion-control shoes.

  1. Are my shoes causing me pain?

Maybe. Not always.

There are so many injuries that could come from running. Some people develop plantar fasciitis, for example. In that case, neutral-cushioned shoes could actually help curb the pain. 

Even with motion-controlled shoes, though, you could still develop some pain in your feet. This is because the foot loses resiliency as you age. This can be addressed by using a shoe that offers good support and cushion.

New runners may experience what’s commonly termed “shin splints.” This is when the pain is felt on the outside of the shin. And yes, this may be due to the shoes you’re using. Finding a more stable, softer shoe will alleviate the discomfort while still absorbing the impact from hard surfaces.

  1. My shoes are the right type and fit. Why do my feet keep slipping out during a run?

This usually happens with women. Why? Because running shoes are mostly the same whether it’s labeled “men” or “women”. A lot of times, only the colors change. What does that mean? Simply that majority, if not all those shoes, have wide heels. And that’s why women’s feet, that are typically leaner and more slender than men’s feet, slip out. Adding an insole underneath the sock liner might help.

If you’re a guy and your shoe inserts are sliding forward or your feet is slipping out, then consider tying your laces more tightly.

Don’t worry, though. Many companies are starting to take “gender-specific” shoes more seriously and are creating shoes that actually fit better.

  1. Will tight lacing help me perform better?

Yes. Lacing shoes tightly allows it to wrap your arches properly and help with stability. Just don’t tie your shoes too tight that you start feeling tingles or discomfort.

       10. When is it time to buy new running shoes?

The typical lifespan of running shoes is between 300 to 500 miles. Or, you can just place your shoes on a flat, even surface. If they tilt to the side or wobble, then it’s time to go shopping for new ones. The same is true if the midsoles are already exposed.

Got any more running shoe questions? Hit me up in the comments.



Image: Luke Ma / CC BY

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16 December 2014

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