Guidelines for Running Shoe Selection

Sometimes when new running shoes are purchased, they feel good on your feet in the store, but once you begin training with them, they become uncomfortable to wear; blisters develop or you may develop foot pain. In order to decrease this risk, here is a guideline for shoe purchasing. Please remember these are guidelines and individual responses vary. A foot doctor or podiatrist may be best suited to help you with proper shoe selection.

Running Shoe Purchase Points

  • Have your feet measured while you’re standing.
  • Always try on both shoes for 10 minutes, walk and run around the store.
  • Always buy for the larger foot; feet are seldom precisely the same size.
  • Don’t buy shoes that need a “break-in” period; shoes should be comfortable immediately.
  • Shop for shoes later in the day; feet tend to swell during the day, and it’s best to be fitted while they are in that state.
  • Be sure that shoes fit well–front, back, and sides–to distribute weight. It sounds elementary, but be sure the widest part of your foot corresponds to the widest part of the shoe.
  • Select a shoe with a stiff heel counter, appropriate cushioning, and flexibility at the ball of the foot. Lace the shoes snug while crouching/kneeling, this will simulate the weight placed on the foot during the activity and you may get a better feel of the shoe as compared to lacing while seated.
  • Buy shoes that don’t pinch your toes, either at the tips or across the toe box.
  • Try on shoes while you’re wearing the same type of socks or stockings you expect to wear with the shoes.
  • If you wear prescription orthotics–biomechanical inserts prescribed by a podiatric physician–you should take the insole out and insert the orthotic before trying on the shoe.
  • Place shoes on the counter, eyeball the shoe from the back, and make sure the heel sits squarely on the shoe. If it doesn’t, do not purchase the shoes.
  • Buy shoes that help counter the abnormalities of your foot.
  • Wear a combination of cotton and acrylic socks because they wick away moisture from your foot better than a cotton sock, never wear 100% cotton socks.
  • As a general guideline, replace running shoes every 435 miles.
  • If you have been at school all day your socks are probably wet or damp from sweating. This can cause the foot to slide inside the running shoe during practice, which leads to blistering. Before practice, change into fresh socks. Following this advice will put your feet and shoes on the same track, allowing you to run with more comfort and maybe, a little faster

Contributors: Glenn Venturini MS, MPT, and Nicholas Romansky DPM, Team Podiatrist for the USA and Olympic Men and Women’s Soccer Teams, NBA and NFL Consultant