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Do Running Shoes Change Your Feet?

Could My Feet Change as I Continue to Run?


It’s been a while since I started running. If I’m being honest, the only reason I decided to run is to lose weight. The husband noticed me wheezing after climbing a few flights of stairs and point blank told me I’m out of shape. I may not be grossly overweight, but I must admit that at the time, I was at my heaviest ever. I wasn’t able to lose the pregnancy weight immediately (and okay, it’s not like I was really trying.) Anyway, long story short, I hate going to gym so I ended up choosing to run instead.

I thought it was easy, too. Everyone knows how to run, right? So I bought a nice pair of running shoes and just went for it. Unfortunately, after a couple of weeks, I started feeling some pain in my feet. So what’s a millennial to do? Google my symptoms, of course. Duh.

During the course of my uhm, Googling, I came across an article that intimated that running shoes can change one’s feet. Actually, just plain running supposedly can change your feet. I thought it was an interesting topic.

Could my feet change if I continue to run? What does that even mean, “runners’ feet change over time?” That’s not bad, is it?

So, here’s what I found out about it.

Your Changing Feet

Each runner’s feet are unique, with specific strides. And according to biomechanics specialists Stacy Steffen and Eric Rohr at Brooks Running, feet can change as one ages. Specifically,

  • arches tend to become flatter,
  • ankle muscles can become stronger,
  • weight loss/gain will affect ligaments and tendons.

Now, regarding the actual running shoes- training can actually result to stronger ankle muscles and improved running form. When that happens, it’s possible to use lighter, less structured shoes with less support. That doesn’t always happen, though. In fact, the reverse is also possible.

Your Running Shoes and Hurting Feet

Having said all that, it’s of great importance to actually ensure that you are wearing the right shoe for your foot type, regardless of whether you’re running or just walking. A lot of times, pain in the feet after a run can be attributed to incorrect footwear.

Checking Your Foot Type

Before buying running shoes, check what type of feet you have. Here are a few ways to do that.

  1. Watch how your feet hit the ground.
  • People with flat arches over-pronate. (Pronation refers to how your feet naturally roll inward when the heels hit the ground.) Over-pronation can lead to knee pain. If your feet fall in this category, you need shoes that will provide stability and motion control to reduce the excessive movement.
  • People with high arches do the opposite, they under-pronate. The little motion may not sound like a problem but it is. It means there’s a smaller foot area to absorb shock and that may cause leg pain and injuries. The best shoes to get therefore would be those that are cushioned with soft midsoles.
  • People with normal arches pronate normally. Any shoe with moderate cushion and stability will be okay.


  1. Do the wet test.

This is a simple method to check your arch type. It simply entails wetting your sole and checking the print your foot leaves behind. Normal arches leave a footprint showing at least half of the arch. In a flat arch, you can see a print of the whole foot. Those with high arches will just see a print of the heel and the ball of the foot, with maybe a very thin line outside.

Some question the value of this test, though, so if you have other options, I would suggest going for them instead.

  1. Examine old shoes.

You can also determine your feet type by checking old shoes. If your shoes show wear and tear around outside edges, you may be under-pronating. Inward sag indicates excessive pronation. Even pattern, of course, point to normal pronation.

There are so many different types of athletic shoes in the market today. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make things easier. To the contrary, you may feel a bit overwhelmed just trying to find the right one for you. I know I was when I started to look for the right pair for my feet to ease the pain.

So, what’s your best course of action? Well, I’d suggest seeing a healthcare provider, actually. He may then refer you to a specialist depending on your particular case. Joint and bone problems are usually referred to orthopedic physicians. Everything involving function problems in the foot, ankles, muscles and tendons goes to a podiatrist. Then there are sports medicine physicians and physical therapists and athletic trainers.

Bottom line: feet can change. That means getting your feet and stride evaluated every couple of years or so and finding the right shoes for your feet type are to your best interest so you can stay safer when you run.



Image: Dawn / CC BY

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17 December 2014

« Each runners feet is unique. The trick is in knowing what sort of feet and stride you have and finding the right shoes for them. »

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