buying running shoesWhile we often hear about the importance of selecting a sound running shoe, it can be very challenging to know where exactly to start. For many of us, going with a popular brand that we’ve seen in workout commercials seems like a no-brainer.

Top brands may provide something stylish to workout in, but often times they do not truly support the demands that running places on them. This may become evident in the way that your feet can feel after a workout, whether blistered or in pain, or by the manner in which they can start wearing down far earlier than you expected.

When buying running shoes, there are multiple factors to consider to make sure you are getting the most out of your shoes without sacrificing your health.

Shoe Structure

The shape and structure of a shoe are some of the most important factors to consider. While many of us may not think specifically about shoe anatomy, making sure that it fits your foot specifically will help prevent pain, injury and blisters. The following are the components of the shoe to consider:

Each component of the shoe has different factors to consider. However, the main consideration when buying running shoes should be finding the proper fit.

The fit is about more than size and should focus on the shoe forming to the foot properly. A solid running shoe should ensure that the ankle has full range of motion but that it doesn’t slide around at all while running.

While the shoe should fit well, it is important that there are no pressure points along the foot. These are especially common along the mid-foot and along the Achilles tendon.

The bottom of the shoe should provide for cushioning that absorbs the force of ground impact when running, providing both comfort and stability. This is often the part of the show that many stylish and popular brands will neglect, causing pain and injury at the plantar aspect of the foot.

Avid runners may want to consider purchasing custom-fit running shoes, as no individuals and no two feet are exactly the same.


When you go to tie your laces, it is important to make sure you do so with the appropriate tightness. When going too tight, this can cause pressure points over the top of the foot, leading to blisters as well as a potential limit in ankle range of motion. This can, in turn, lead to improper running mechanics and further injury leading up the chain.

If laces are too loose, the ankle and foot may move too much causing potential injury and blisters on the underside of the foot. This additional movement may lead to compensatory movement patterns with running gait, stressing stabilizing muscles to a greater extent.

There are a variety of different techniques for lacing running shoes depending on your needs such as having a higher arch or wider feet. Try out different methods to find what works best for you.

When to Replace

It is easy to hold on to a favorite pair of running shoes long after they are past time for a change. While changing out running shoes does depend in part on how often one is running and the conditions they are stressed under (environment, intensity, etc.), it is recommended to change out pairs every 300-500 miles.

Similar to getting a regular oil change, following this recommendation is necessary to account for the normal breakdown that occurs even with well-made running shoes. This can be delayed slightly with sound running mechanics such as landing softly on impact, but obvious wearing down on the bottom of the shoe, especially the heel, is a sign that it is time to invest in a new pair of running shoes.

Consult an Expert

As a form of injury prevention, those who run regularly should consider consulting with an athletic trainer, podiatrist or sports medicine physician who can offer guidance regarding proper fit, running mechanics, injury prevention counseling and other tips for staying healthy. The physicians at South Shore Orthopedics have extensive experience providing comprehensive orthopedic care to patients in South Shore and the greater Boston area. To schedule an appointment, call (781) 337-5555.