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How to Buy the Best Running Shoes


One of the best things about running is you don’t need a lot of gear. However, you do need a good pair of running shoes. Whether you’re training for your next marathon or just trying out running for the first time, shoe shopping can be a bit tricky.

We asked our team of physical therapists from the TRIA Running Program to share their advice on how to find the best pair.

Where should I go to buy a new pair of running shoes and is it okay to shop online?

You can go anywhere to buy shoes, although the level of customer service will vary based on where you go. You can absolutely shop online, especially if you know what you like and prefer to try shoes on at home. Many retailers have free returns, which makes this a great option.

What sets a good running shoe retailer apart from others?

Customer service. They should have the ability to measure the length and width of your foot and guide you toward a pair of shoes that fits your foot shape. A good retailer should also know how specific shoes are built regarding the toe box, heel counter, length, width, weight, material, amount of cushioning, etc.

How can I find the best fit running shoe and what factors should I take into account?

Try on a lot of shoes and don’t settle for the first pair you try on. Also, really focus on the feel of the shoe while running. If possible, don’t just walk around the store in the new shoes. Many running shoe stores have a treadmill or will let you take a short run outside when fitting shoes. Some stores will even allow you to exchange a shoe after wearing it for a short time, if it is causing you problems.

What kind of questions should I ask myself before I search for a new pair?

You should always ask yourself if the fit is comfortable to you. Figuring out what kind of conditions you will be wearing the shoe in is also important. Will you be out on the road, in the trails or on a treadmill? Will you be wearing them in any rain or snow? Another question to ask yourself is if the shoe is a lot different from what you currently wear. If it is noticeably different, ease into the new shoe a bit slower.

How important is arch support and cushioning, and when can orthotics be helpful to use?

Support and cushioning is highly individual and does not predict injuries. True arch support comes from an added orthotic and not from the shape of the shoe. For new injuries or aches, orthotics may be used for short term support of an injured area, but in most cases orthotics are not needed for long term use.

How often should I buy new running shoes, and how many pairs do I really need?

We recommend changing shoes that start to feel uncomfortable, change in shape, rip, or lose their tread. There is some evidence that rotating shoes can reduce the risk of injury. You can try alternating between two different pairs and see if you feel any difference.

Do you have any other advice for buying new running shoes?

Buy what feels good and is comfortable to you! There is a lot of new technology out there. However, current research suggests that more technology does not translate to fewer injuries.

TRIA’s Running Program is designed to help all recreational and competitive runners manage injuries and prevent future injuries. For more information visit the Running Program webpage or call 952-806-5616.

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