Running Shoes and Fit Tips

Running shoes have many great features that make fitting most feet easy.

Each running shoe company has a different “claim to fame” such as; grids, gels, air bags, and roll bars. These items make the running shoe a very good option for the hard to fit foot and for the general non-runner patient as well. Most running shoes interface very well with custom orthotics or over the counter insoles. Some brands are great for extra toe box room, others are best for slender feet, and some are considered helpful for the heavier  “Clydesdale” runner.

Running Shoe Fit Tips

  • Change Shoes every 400-500 miles
  • Always buy shoes at the end of the day after the feet are the fullest in size
  • Try on shoes with the type of socks that you will run or workout with.
  • Always buy the shoe slightly larger than dress shoe size ( usually ½ to 1 full size), by using a thumb’s width at the end of the longest toe to the tip of the shoe.
  • Make sure your feet are fit with the proper level of mechanical support (neutral, stability, or motion control models) to fit your foot’s  mechanical needs.
  • Evaluate for fitting specifics: a high instep, a wide toe box, or a narrow heel.
  • Measure your feet regularly, as shoe size changes from weight gain, pregnancy, athletic activity and age.
  • Inside the shoe or in a running log, mark the start date for the new shoe. This helps to keep track of the total mileage.
  • Read Dr.Schoene's article From Minimal to Maximal: What Gives Runners the Best Output?

There are 3 basic stability levels in running shoes:

Designed for a runner who has very efficient foot mechanics or a foot that tends to  supinate ( a foot that tends to roll outward). This shoe typically is lighter weight  and has softer lightweight  material within the midsole, it wears out faster, so rotating shoes or changing more frequently is important, try changing closer to 300 miles.

Designed for the mild to moderate pronator (a foot that rolls inward) who needs extra support. Among the different brands, there is a very wide range of stability  from very soft and flexible to very firm. Some brands are well known for their stability features, and will accommodate orthotic devices very well.

Motion Control:
Designed for the moderate to severe over pronator, (rolling inward) or someone that is a heavier runner. This is the heaviest shoe of all three types, with  the firmest material in the midsole.. This shoe may work well for runners that have poor foot alignment,  a very flat foot or are a little heavier with body weight.


Barefoot running is an interesting running option that has circulated among the running community a few times in the past 30 years. Some authors, running enthusiasts, coaches, and trainers are endorsing this training method, but is it really for every runner?

Barefoot running is believed to improve foot muscle strength, and that we were made to run without shoes. Unfortunately many runners don’t have perfect foot alignment. When the foot is improperly functioning, the inner foot muscles which move the toes, as well as the lower leg muscles which move the foot, have to work a lot harder to keep the foot, knee, leg and hip upright and working correctly. Doing an activity that puts about 3 times body weight on each foot 1500 times per mile, may be a bit tougher for a foot if it isn’t working well and there isn’t a proper shoe on it. 

Barefoot running or even running in a very minimal shoe may not be the best idea for a person with previous running injuries, a poorly aligned foot, balance problems, weakness in the leg, hip or core.

What is the best solution? Each runner should do regular flexibility and strength exercises, as well as keeping the body slightly forward of the plumb line,  and to  land slightly more forward on the midfoot rather than on the heel. By doing all these things you will be a happy and healthy runner!