You’ve been neglecting a very important relationship lately. It is the type of relationship that should just fit perfectly into your life. And when the fit is off everything else is just wrong. Things start to hurt in places you never knew could, and there is a general discomfort with all other things making it hard to focus. No no it’s not that 2013 break up you are still losing sleep over, it’s your poorly fitting running shoes talking and they need you.
After years of working at a running specialty store I am confident in estimating that 80% of everyone should have checked out a new pair of running shoes yesterday. Whether you are a runner, a walker, or a New Year’s hopeful chances are that it is time to check in with your shoes and see how things are going.
Running or athletic shoes are one of the most commonly underestimated aspects to your training, and deciphering between quality and the ‘light-up-water-proof-collapse-to-fit-in-your pocket’ vanity shoes can be as challenging as the barista spelling your name correctly. If you have ever had unexplained foot pain, shin splints, leg fatigue, bone spurs, blisters, patella probs, IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, or any of the alike, chances are your shoes could be one source of the problem.
So you realized your shoes aren’t working; and let me clarify, if your shoes are over a year old, how do you go about finding more than just the grab and go Foot Locker experience?
Step One: Find a local running specialty store. Contrary to popular belief these stores are not strictly running. They will not ask you to leave or blockade your entry if you are not a runner so don’t be scared! Most specialty stores are just that, specialized. They offer a range of shoes of everything from walking to Zumba. This ensures that the staff will be knowledgeable and willing to go the extra mile (pun intended) to make sure that you are getting what you need.
Step Two: Come prepared. Know what you are looking for out of a shoe. Consider your store visit like a consultation. The more info you can give the specialist the more they can suggest to help. Although you probably don’t need to give them the history of your bunion, or ask them to feel it, believe me we know what they are and how they look. But if a bunion therapy session helps we will listen of course :]
Step Three: Walk. This is the first step to telling which type of shoe would be better for you. Unfortunately all running shoes are not considered equal. Some provide more or less support depending on your foot type, gait, and arch type. The two main categories you need to listen for are pronation or supination. They sound like a horrible bone malformation, but the terms merely describe whether you are flexible, if you fall in when you walk, or weigh more on the outside. Pronation=stability shoe and supination=neutral shoe and boom the world suddenly makes sense!
Step Four: Try on the right types. The specialist will recommend and pull shoes that they feel would best support you based off of what you want and how you walk. It’s basically like online dating for your feet. You will learn more information about the specific style and why it was pulled, but most importantly you can be sure that whatever shoe they put on your foot is the right type of shoe for you.
While running or walking you distribute up to 7 times your body weight on the 26 (28 if you count the sesamoids) bones that are no thicker than a green bean. It is no wonder that literally everyone’s feet hurt at some point in time. Running shoes are one of the training aspects you don’t want to cut corners with, it could mean the difference between fulfilling that resolution to be healthier, or getting discouraged by it. Take a look at your running shoes, feel how you walk, and find the right pair. Kicking off 2014 on a healthier note is much more difficult if your feet aren’t happy!
Want to donate those old shoes? As you upgrade, help those in need that would love some protection on their feet, in whatever form: http://www.runnersworld.com/running-shoes/runners-world-shoe-donation