That that don't kill me, can only make me stronger. I need you to hurry up now, cause I can't wait much longer. Kanye West, Stronger

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tips for finding the perfect shoes

Finding the perfect sneaker can be a tricky, in some cases, even a daunting proposition. There are so many variables: pronation, foot shape, stride style, intended use, terrain. All of these come into play on your quest to find the shoe that will make you feel like Paula Radcliffe.

Typically, it is recommended that you replace your shoes every 300-400 miles. It really does make a difference. I should have been better about tracking my weekly mileage, so I wouldn't have been running on dead soles for so long. Next time, I will plan ahead and take the time to try out a new shoe.

The right shoe can help you avoid injury and make running or any exercise far more enjoyable, so it’s worth a little leg work. Not to mention that it’s a reasonable financial investment to buy new shoes every 3-4 months.

My first tip is to do the arch test.

Wet your feet and then step onto a piece of card board. Step off and check out the marks left behind.

If you the space between your ball and heel is filled in (almost solid across), you have low arches.

If there is a thin line between the ball and the heel, but it is not totally filled in, you have a moderate arch.

If there is little to no line connecting ball to heel, you have a high arch.

Making sure you have proper arch support is very important when looking for a shoe, the higher your arch, the more support you need.

Another thing to check is your old shoes. Look at where they are most worn down on the soles to help determine where you need the most support.

Then I would recommend checking out the Shoe Dog-Shoe Finder on Road Runner Sports. It asks you many questions in order to determine the best shoes for you, and then offers you a wide selection of matches. It kind of rocks.

I like to look at the shoe reviews in runner’s world, but that is just to get an idea of what is out there, and what other people have enjoyed.

So now that you have an idea of your arch type and possible matches, I offer you something I think is essential: go to a great shoe store.

I often declare my love for Jack Rabbit Sports, but there are any others. This is what to look for:

Knowledgeable staff—who aren’t too pushy and just want to sell you stuff

A treadmill with a video camera. You should actually test your shoes by running, not just walking around the store for 30 seconds. The video really helps the staff assistant and you analyze your stride to determine your pronation and support needs. Nike operates a Runner's Station on 15th and the Westside highway that actually lets you test drive shoes and equipment--like the Nike+ Sport band. Plus they sell water and gus. They will ALSO let you store your stuff in lockers for FREE while you run!

Any good store will have a treadmill for you to use with similar technology. The Addidas Sports Performance Store will actually analyze your foot and design a custom made shoe for you.

Try many, many pairs. And at least two or three sizes. It will feel a bit like What Not to Wear, but you need to be able to compare.

Make sure you are totally happy, don’t feel pressured to buy a pair just because you need them or you feel like you took up a lot of the customer service person’s time. It’s okay!

Make sure the store has a good return policy. They should allow you to return/exchange your shoes even if you wore them once or twice.

Happy shopping!


Anonymous said...

I seriously need new sneakers! Thanks for this post! :)

VeggieGirl said...

FABULOUS tips, Melissa. Since I have flat feet, it's often hard to find the best shoes out there; so thanks for all this advice!

linds said...

Melissa- thanks sooo much for this!!! I love that you take comments and questions seriously and address what your readers ask :) Thank you! (now I'm all set to go shopping haha)

Anonymous said...

It's almost time for me to buy new sneakers too. I hate shoe shopping,I have abnormally small feet--at least kids sneakers are cheaper!