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Making A Run For New Shoes?

Put Your Best Foot Forward With These Running Shoe Tips From BIDMC Othopaedic Surgeons


At this time of year, Dr. Ryan Friedberg gets the same question over and over. He takes it in stride.

"My patients who are runners ask, which shoes are the best?, Dr. Friedberg who specializes in foot problems in the Carl J. Shapiro Department of Orthopaedics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "Running shoes are a multi-billion dollar industry. There are so many styles and brands that it can be difficult for a consumer to know what to look for."

Look Specifically for a Shoe Designed for Running

Dr. Friedberg advises that first and foremost, people who run, should look specifically for a shoe designed for running, vs. a regular sneaker or a walking or cross-training shoe.

One Style Isn't Going to Work for Everyone

"A lot of science goes into the design of this footware," he says. "But one style isn't going to work for everyone. Choosing the right shoe depends on factors such as the body type of the runner, the arch of the foot and the intensity and frequency of the activity."

For example, Dr. Friedberg says those who are heavier should choose a shoe with more cushion. Those with a high arch (a more rigid foot) really should look for shoe with some flexibility.

"Otherwise, it will increase your risk of stress fractures," he notes. Similarly, those with a low arch (more flexible foot) should look for a shoe with more support.

Shoes Should Feel Comfortable Right When You Put Them On

Dr. Friedberg also says the idea that you need to "break in" new shoes is a myth. "Shoes are constructed like tires-they are best when they are new," he explains. "The footware should feel comfortable right when you put it on. If it doesn't, don't buy it."

Don't Fall for New Fads or High Price-Tags

Also, don't fall for new fads. Dr. Naven Duggal, an orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess says he's seen a number of cases of sprains and strains from runners using new "minimal" shoes - a sock-like covering with sleeves for each toe.

"A lot of our patients, they perform at a high level. They think these new shoes may give them an advantage," says Dr. Duggal. But he explains while there are studies that look at the way people walk and run in these shoes, there aren't many studies that look at the potential injuries that may occur.

Both doctors agree that a high price-tag, doesn't necessarily mean high quality.

"Just look for something that is well-fitting, and accommodates the foot," says Dr. Duggal.

Do a 15-Minute Test Run

Once you find a pair you like, Dr. Friedberg suggests you go to an indoor gym and do a 15-minute test run. If you have any knee, hip or ankle discomfort, take them back. He says walking around the store won't give you a good sense of how well they'll work when running.

Switch to a New Pair Once You Notice Wear

"If they feel good, pick up 3-4 pairs and put them in your closet," he says. Dr. Friedberg also suggests you switch to a new pair once you start noticing wear, or about every six months.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted March 2011

Contact Information

Carl J. Shapiro Department of Orthopaedics
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-3940

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