In choosing footwear, fit is everything. You may buy a new pair of shoes, not get a good fit, and use them for short runs or races without much problem. But the longer you’ll be wearing them at a time, the more important the fit.
Here’s a trick to help get ensure a good fit.
Rich Schick, a physician’s assistant and ultrarunner, shared that he believes the key to getting the proper size shoe is the insert – often called insoles. “If the foot does not fit the insert, then the shoe will have to stretch to accommodate the difference or there may be excessive room in the shoe, which can lead to blisters and other foot problems.” He thinks there is too much confusion about straight lasts, curved lasts, semicurved lasts, and so on.
Rick suggests, and I agree, that you don’t need to know any of this if you use the insert to fit your shoes. The same holds true for the proper width of shoe. Simply remove the insert from the shoe and place your heel in the depression made for the heel (in the insert). There should be an inch to an inch and a half from the tip of your longest toe to the tip of the insert. None of your toes or any part of the foot should lap over the sides of the insert. If they do, is it because the insert is too narrow or is it because of a curved foot and straight insert or vice versa? The foot should not be more than about a quarter inch from the edges of the insert either. This includes the area around the heel, or the shoe may be too loose. Check to see if the arch of the insert fits in the arch of your foot. Finally, if all the above criteria are met, then try on the shoe. The only remaining pitfalls are tight toeboxes and seams or uppers that rub.
Remember to take into a account the type and thickness of socks you’ll be wearing. If you are going to replace the stock inserts that come with the shoes, make sure to follow this tip.
Life has been busy this past month and I apologize for not posting more often.
As I read the my magazines, I find shoe reviews. As I open emails, I read people’s experiences with their shoes. As I check newsletters, websites and blogs, I read reports and reviews of shoes. And then, of course, there are the ads – everywhere.
The thing is, they all point out the features and benefits of their shoes. Is there one shoe for you? Yes, there is one – and many more that will also work. Some work better than others.
My feeling after all these years of providing foot care is that you could easily slip into a number of shoes and they would work. You read the ads, the emails on forums from other runners happy with their shoes, and you hear other runners in one-on-one conversations recommending certain shoes. Maybe you’re happy with your current shoes and simply want to try out another pair. Or maybe you find the shoes you like have been discontinued.
Everyone wants the perfect shoe – and some people find them. Others try on shoe after shoe, looking for the elusive “best” fit.
You could run a 5K or 10K or even a marathon in many shoes and not have a problem. But move up to an ultramarathon or a multi-day event and you could have problems. A small thing when training or running can be multiplied many times over with more miles and cause problems. When changing to a different shoe, pay attention to any changes in how your feet and ankles feel. Does anything feel funny or seem bothersome? Do you feel a twinge the next day – telling you that something is wrong? At some point, if this continues, you need to consider the shoes. Change back to your old shoes and see if the problem goes away.
Where this affects athletes the most is moving from regular shoes to minimalist shoes or even no shoes (barefoot). Changing to these takes time and a gradual slow process. Wearing minimalist shoes puts added stressors on the feet until they get used to the change. Give it time. Slowly. Recognize you should be changing the way you land on your feet and your overall stride.
There are lots of shoes that will work for you. Give them a try. I bet you’ll find several you really like.
Most of us know that we are in a recession. Many have changed their spending habits; making cuts here and there. People are looking for deals, discounts, and sales. Athletes are no different.
Today’s newspaper ran an article about changing spending habits. What caught my eye was the statement that:
“Those on the go are not shying away from footing the bill for sturdy running shoes. Sales increased two percent in 2008, said Tom Doyle at the National Sporting Goods Association in Mount Prospect, Ill. Runners aren’t going to hurt themselves to save a few bucks.”
That makes me smile. People, especially athletes, know that buying cheap shoes will result in an increased chance of injuries. Cheap shoes will fall apart faster, will not fit well, lack in support – in short, they lack quality.
When you buy footwear, do not cut corners. High quality, well made shoes feel better on your feet. They, and you, will perform better. After all, that’s what it’s all about.
I was reading an article by the California Podiatric Medical Association where a podiatrist made an interesting statement. Daniel Altchuler, a board certified podiatrist, was talking about how when winter comes many people go from sandals to an enclosed shoe. His next sentence was, “And the biggest problem people face is that their shoes do not always fit properly.” He went on to say, “Feet change and it is amazing how many people are wearing the wrong-sized shoes.” I agree wholeheartedly.
Many of us buy shoes at the local store where shoes line the shelves and you help yourself. Row after row of different shoes, and based on the stores I have seen, no one to help make sure the shoes fit. So the general action is to grab a box off the shelf based on what you think your size is. Put the shoes on and, either they fit or they don’t.
I suspect in most cases, whether they fit is strictly dependent on the wearer’s sense of comfort. Fit can be simple – it seems comfortable; or complex – length, width, toe box height, arch, heel control, instep lacing, insole firmness/softness, etc. How many times have you bought a pair of shoes only to get home and discover they really don’t fit? Have you ever bought shoes only to find that in the first or fifth time, tenth time running in them, that they hurt or pinch somewhere on your foot.
So, my point is, take the time to have your feet sized whenever you buy shoes. The instrument you see pictured here is called the Bannock Device. This simple tool will tell you your shoe size.
It’s worth it to keep your feet happy and healthy.
Recently I bought a new pair of casual shoes. I tried them on in the store and they felt fine. Getting home I took them out of the box and set them in my closet. When I went to put them on one day I noticed they really fit tight. Hummm…
What happened of course is when I bought the shoes; I had on a thinner pair of socks. Pulling out a pair of everyday socks the day I was going to wear them for the first time; I grabbed a pair of thicker socks. So I set the shoes aside and forgot about them.
This can easily happen when we buy new shoes or socks. Your socks must match with your shoes for a good fit. We all have our favorite socks and shoes. We tend to pick them first because they are comfortable. But sometimes we buy new socks without thinking about how they will fit into our existing shoes. Going to thicker or thinner socks can lead to problems of hot spots, blisters, cramped toes, sore feet, and reduced circulation.
When you shop for new shoes, take along a pair of your favorite socks. Use them to help determine if the shoes are a good fit. Avoid the basket of shoes the store offers – who know how many feet they have been on and what germs they are harboring.
As far as my new shoes, I need new socks anyway so I’ll get a few pairs of thinner socks. I’ll be happy and so will my feet.
In the not too distant past, footwear was easy to buy. There were running shoes, mainly for the road, and a few with tougher outersoles for trails. And there were hiking boots. There were a handful of major players and then another handful of minor companies. You made your choice based on cost, quality or both—pretty much the same as today. That’s about the only thing that has not changed.
Today, however, the playing field has changed. The old favorites are still here. Companies that once did running shoes are now doing lightweight trail shoes. Companies that once did boots are now doing lightweight trail shoes and in some cases, road running shoes. Then add in new companies, many from Europe, that have entered the footwear market. If you’re in the market for trail shoes, the market is very competitive.
What’s happened? The popularity of adventure racing in all its shapes for formats, the increased numbers of trail runners, and the increase in hikers tired of wearing heavy hiking boots has exploded the market—and everyone wants a piece of the action.
Inov-8 is an example of one such shoe company. Headquartered in England, the company makes lightweight trail running shoes that also work well for hikers. The shoes have a lower heel, are very breathable and drain well, and have an aggressive outersole. Their shoes have received great reviews from athletes around the world and have been featured in many magazines doing footwear reviews. In all fairness, I have two pair of Inov-8 shoes that the company sent me to review. I had just ordered a pair of trail shoes from another well-known company—and used them on trails. While they were good shoes, the heel plastic counter rubbed on my foot and I knew if I used the shoes in a long run, I’d develop blisters. Then I got the Inov-8 Flyroc 310 and Terroc 330 shoes. What a difference. Light, airy, fantastic traction, and without a doubt, the most comfortable trails shoes I’ve ever worn.
The changes in footwear are a positive move for today’s athletes. Companies are stretching their boundaries as they try to make shoes with better features than their competitors. Shoes and boots are made better with more features. Consumers have more choices than ever before. While the trail runners/lightweight hikers shoe segment of the market has seen the most growth, road shoes and boots have also benefited. In the long run, we all gain. My feet are happy. I hope yours are too.
Remember Charlie? I mentioned him two days ago when the subject was Don’t Give Up on Footwear. I wrote. “He asked for advice after working hard to rid his feet of calluses. It worked for a long time and then, one day, his feet got trashed during an ultra.”
I get that a lot—people asking for advice. The first thing I do is ask the question, “What changed?”
The answer sometimes is simple and easy. Other times, it’s complex. People tell me they never blistered before today, or they blister in a new area, or had problems with their toes, or something else. Or they tell me they worked hard to rid their feet of calluses and now something happened and their feet are trashed. Some tell of bad blisters deep underneath calluses. Or bad toe blisters.
Never mind the problem. The question is always the same, “What changed?” What I mean is what did you change from the previous times? Could it be different socks (thicker, thinner, multiple pairs), insoles, shoes (new versus worn down), laces, etc.? Or a different
running or walking surface, a canted
Maggie was having tremendous problems getting a good fit with her footwear. She wrote, “This is by far the most frustrating thing I have experienced in my quest to find my personal ‘very best way.’ Occasionally I have come up with a combination that has had very acceptable results, only to have the same strategy fail miserably on the next outing.”
Charlie was another. He asked for advice after working hard to rid his feet of calluses. It worked for a long time and then, one day, his feet got trashed during an ultramarathon.
There are many more. Some have never had problems while others have had lots. I like to hear from those who never have foot problems. They may be doing everything right, be genetically blessed with good feet, and likely, have put lots of miles on their feet in order to have the right conditioning. Others, like Maggie, have tried every idea under the sun—without success. These are the ones I love to talk to. They are dedicated to finding what works and will give up at nothing.
Maggie, Charlie, and others are on a quest to find the best fit, and shoe and sock combination possible. They love their sport. They love being outdoors, running hiking, walking. It is a part of who they are. But they want to do it with happy feet.
Maggie described her feet to an online hiking forum and told us what she had tried, and what worked (not much) and what didn’t work (lots). Many fellow hikers responded with their idea. Many were very good. In the end, I printed out about 10 pages of back and forth emails, read them to grasp what had been suggested and tried, and made my own recommendations. What a learning experience.
You may be frustrated like Maggie. My advice? Don’t give up. There is a solution. There are shoes out there that will fit. With the search you’ll learn about fit, socks, insoles, orthotics, lacing techniques, heel counters, forefoot width, pronation, supination, shoe lasts, narrow feet, wide feet, Morton’s toe, bunions, and much more. Read shoe reviews in magazines. Do Google searches on different shoes with the word ‘reviews’ in the search box. Quiz your shoe store salesperson. Ask questions. Try different pairs by different manufacturers. Do not leave the store with a shoe that doesn’t feel ‘right.’ Don’t settle for 2nd best. Your feet deserve the best.
Next time we will talk about what changed. It’s the important question.
For the past four years, I have written the monthly Fixing Your Feet Ezine. That’s a lot of words about our appendages that we so often take for granted. Is there really that much to say and is it important?
For athletes, especially extreme athletes, you can never have too much information. Whatever we do, it’s usually our feet that get us there—and back. In the same way we spend money on gear and training, and travel and food, we need to remember our feet. There is a lot of information that could help us walk and run better. There are lots of great products, some new and some old, and a lot of tips and hints. That is what the Ezine has done, provided that kind of information. Oh yea, and a great Bad Feet Photo Contest!
The purpose of the Ezine is to inform and educate athletes and non-athletes about proper foot care skills and techniques, provide tips on foot care, review foot care products, and highlight problems people have with their feet. Over the years there have been articles on recovery from toe surgery, turf toe, maceration, toenail care, blisters, foot care kits, footwear, socks, insoles, foot care basics, ankle care, gaiters, fit, tendon problems, podiatrists, warts, dealing with sand and water, and much more.
There are few people that have the same fascination with feet that I have—especially in how we patch out feet during sports. However, if you love your feet and are into walking, hiking, running, or any form of sport, you should learn how to care for these important parts of our anatomy. My book Fixing Your Feet is the ‘bible’ of foot care for athletes. The Ezine has played a major role in presenting information on foot care. And then there is this new blog. Can we have too much information about foot care? I can’t. Can you? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
To subscribe to the Fixing Your Feet Ezine, Click Here. Once you are a subscriber, you’ll have access to all the back issues.
Yesterday I was looking through the ads in the Sunday paper and my attention was drawn to a Mervyns ad. On the front of their glossy 36-page flyer were photos of Nike women’s Air Alvord, the new women’s Air Dual D, and the men’s Air Run Dual D. Nike what? Who has heard of these shoes? They’re Nike’s sales effort aimed at department stores. They may be good shoes but I wouldn’t buy them for running. In fact, they are not even on Nike’s web site for running shoes!
While most athletes are careful and know enough to buy running shoes at a running store, many more people are not. Pity the beginning runner, who buys shoes without the quality help from a qualified salesperson. They’ll get no help with fit. Important things like foot type, toe box space, arch support, heel counter grip, to say nothing of shoe type—motion control, cushioning, and so on. No help finding the right shoes for whatever they plan to run and no information about the shoe’s life expectancy.
They take their shoes home, lace them up and start running. A percentage of them will still be going a year later. But, I’d bet, many more will have quit because their feet hurt, or after wearing the shoes down—and not knowing when to get new ones, they got injured—and quit.
If you know someone who is starting to run, or even walk, take a moment and share a bit of your experience on buying good footwear. Here’s a link an article I wrote about Fit. Many shoe companies make mid-range or even cheap shoes and I for one, don’t want them having a negative influence on people wanting to get out and exercise. We all have to be careful out there.