By Podiatrist, Lawrence Bevan
The right running shoe is crucial for your comfort and avoidance of injuries – whether you run 5 or 50 miles a week. You should be looking to change your trainers after around 450-600 miles, but unless you keep an accurate mileage log, you can also look for signs of wear and tear. These would include, soles or heals wearing down (often asymmetrically), the upper material wearing through or actually ripping, shoes not sitting straight when put down on the floor, and generally feeling rather tired. A worn-out shoe is no longer a supportive shoe! There are other factors that affect the wear of your trainers in addition to simple mileage, such as running style (foot pronation) and usage – running on or off-road terrain, or simply in the gym.
So, you need to change your trainers? The good thing is there’s a wide choice these days, which is fantastic; everyone has different requirements, running styles and of course, different feet, but too much choice can also be confusing.
What can we offer as advice?
Specialist: Firstly, we would recommend going to a specialist retailer, such as Up and Running in Cheltenham, because they will assess your requirements, check the fit, as well as look at your running gait on a treadmill (to be sure you are optimally supported and if necessary, corrected by the shoe).
Comfort: This is paramount, feeling like they ‘fit’ is intangible but often the most important thing. This is most likely to be when the shoe is wide enough and there is enough toe room.
Size: The shoe should end about 10-12mm beyond the longest toe (usually the first or second toe), and remember, you’ll have one foot bigger than the other! We would usually recommend starting with one size up from your usual size (especially ladies whose regular shoes can come up smaller) to allow for the feet to expand/toes to spread during exercise.
Support: Often trainers are firmer on the inside, strategically under the inner heel and arch/instep area for support and pronation correction. This can be especially helpful if you tend to collapse slightly over the arch or have suffered a running related injury. Again, it is best to ask for advice at a specialist retailer, because there are varying degrees of support available and corrective footwear is a complicated topic on its own.
Brands: There are a vast array of brands available – some well-known, others you’ve never heard of. But please don’t be drawn in by this season’s offering and colour from the big brands, what matters here is comfort, so assess with your feet and not your eyes!
And finally – once you’ve bought your trainers, it is advisable to ‘break them in’. Wear them around the house and then for some walks before you run. This softens up the materials and moulds them to your feet. After you’ve had them a month or so and you’re happy with them, it’s worth buying a second pair and rotating them.
If you feel you may need more support under your arches, or are suffering some discomfort in the legs/knees or hips, it is worth checking whether you need a more supportive insole in your shoes. I offer both personalised pre-made insoles as well as fully bespoke orthotics.