How to Pick the Perfect Running Shoe

Joanne Pallotta Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center correspondent

JUNE 01, 2016

running shoe

After this brutal winter, you may be inspired to lose some weight, get in shape, or just get moving. So, you want to run, do you? First thing you need is a good pair of running shoes. But, with all of the brands out there, how do you pick the perfect one?

Dr. John-Paul Hezel, an orthopaedic specialist in the Division of Sports Medicine and Shoulder Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says the most important thing to know is that there is NO perfect running shoe — one size does NOT fit all.

Size Matters!

Right off the bat, Hezel recommends getting your foot fitted so you know your proper size.

“The length and width of your foot is very important,” he says.

Try on a couple of sizes to see if you have enough room in what is referred to as the “toe box” — the front of the shoe. You want to give your foot enough room because the motion of running will push it further forward. You don’t want to cramp those toes.

“If it feels really tight, narrow and it feels like it’s compressing your foot when you’re walking around,” Dr. Hezel points out, “that’s not good!”

However, the opposite is also true. “If it’s too big and your foot slides or your toe has too much room, you are setting yourself up for injury,” he says.

In addition, your foot might be narrow, regular or wide, and your arches may be high, low, or neutral. Dr. Hezel suggests trying multiple shoes and sizes to get the proper and comfortable fit.

Picking the Perfect Running Shoe


Comfort isn’t the only important principle in buying a running shoe — you also need stability.

After you try on a shoe, Dr. Hezel suggests you stand on one leg to see if you can balance on it.

“Make sure that the shoe isn’t so stiff as to prevent motion and not so wobbly that you fall over,” he says.

That’ll determine your support. Then, go out and use it. Try the shoe on different surfaces. It should still be comfortable and stable no matter what.


Is there a make or model that works best? The answer is no. What you buy depends on YOU. Personally, Dr. Hezel likes a flexible shoe that’s not too rigid.

“It’s going to support you, hold you up, make you feel stable, and allow you to feel pain-free when you run,” he says.

Walk and run in your new shoe. Dynamically, you should feel comfortable in it all the time.

The Change-Up

Now that you’ve bought the shoes that are right for you, how do you know when it’s time to get another pair?

“The wear pattern is very important to look at,” says Dr. Hezel.

He points out that if you still have a lot of support and your shoes still feel comfortable, that’s good. But if you say “no” — it’s time for a change.

In general, a running shoe should give you about 400 to 600 miles.

Where To Buy

Finally, where you buy your running shoe doesn’t matter either. The only difference between a discount retailer, department store or a specialty shop may be the price or the personal service.

“What matters is how you feel when you put [the running shoe] on,” stresses Dr. Hezel. “It’s very individualized. The name of the game is comfort and stability.”

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