Want to start running but don’t know anything about running shoes? Read this.
Can a shoe help prevent injury?
Yes, shoes can reduce injury risk because they can alter your form and how the repetitive forces of running are applied to your body. For example, research shows that the firmness of shoe cushioning can influence the stiffness of your legs (i.e., amount of bend at the ankle, knee and hip), which affects how forces impact your muscles, bones and joints. If you’re in a shoe that applies forces in a way that your body can manage and is a good match for your training (road or trail, for instance), the shoe can help reduce injury risk. Try rotating among a few pairs: a trainer for long runs, grippy shoes for trails, flats for speedwork and minimal shoes for form drills. The variety mixes up how force is applied and may reduce stress in the legs and feet.
Should I wear new shoes in before I run in them?
In the past, running shoes were made of leather or inflexible synthetics, and they required a break-in period. Today’s shoes are made of much softer, more flexible materials that don’t crimp or otherwise irritate your feet right out of the box.
Having said that, pulling on a new pair of trainers for speedwork may seem like no big deal, but it could be a mistake. If the fit is slightly off, it can lead to irritation. If that happens on an 8K run, you can always loop back home, but stopping speedwork early or having to deal with a potential blister can affect your training, so it’s best to run a few short runs in your new shoes first.
Is it possible that the same pair of shoes (same manufacturer and model) fit differently?
Yes. Though shoe companies put huge resources into quality control, no two shoes are exactly the same. The same shoe can be made in different factories with different levels of quality control, for example. Our advice: always try on the shoes.
And let’s not forget about what the shoes you wear when you’re not running! Here’s what to look for in a smart shoe.
Runners set themselves up for injury by wearing non-supportive casual or dress shoes all day long. As with running shoes, dress shoes should have a snug, supportive heel, a good feel through the arch area, and no pinching or restriction in the forefoot. Look for shoes that have form-fitting removable sockliners, or consider buying an over-the-counter insert for added support. Replace your dress shoes regularly, because – as with running shoes – they lose their cushioning and support features over time.