They say, “If the shoe fits, wear it” but that might not be such a good idea when picking running shoes. Finding the right size is just one of the many criteria. “Feet are complex and their needs are multifactorial, depending on the type of feet, the mileage or the demand the feet are going to be subjected to,” says orthopedic surgeon Abhishek Kini.

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Ideally, there are two key things that go into picking the right shoes to run in. Discussing this further,  Dr Kini says,

“The most important factor should be comfort, from the time you wear the shoes till you remove them. The next thing that matters is your natural running pattern.”

The way you run is affected by the level of pronation, which is the way your foot hits the ground when you walk or run. This is usually influenced by your foot type.

Talking about foot type, did you know that each one of us have different types determined by the arches of our feet? The three basic kinds are high arched, normal arched and flat arched feet.

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Based on this, Dr Kini tell us what kind of running shoes should you be looking for-

High arched feet:

Runners with high arches have feet that are usually rigid and need extra cushioning to avoid specific point loading.

Normal arched feet:

These runners can run comfortably in most variety of shoes. All you need to look for is basic comfort.

Flat arched feet:

These runners should look for medial arch supports in their shoes. These medial arch supports can be supplemented by certain motion limiting stirrups. These are supplementary and are needed in severely flat feet.

Not sure what kind of arches you have? Here’s an easy test suggest by Dr Kini.

  • Wet your feet.
  • Immediately stand on a plain white paper.
  • Step away and note the pattern of your footprint.

types of feet

Other things to consider

Today, shoes are marketed based on the kind of run you will be undertaking. Outdoor running shoes will vary in features from gym shoes. Long distance runners will have a whole different range of shoes too. Pick according to your needs.

Many runners recommend that one buys shoes that are half to a full thumb nail’s length from your big toe to the tip of the shoe. That’s because feet swell when you run and having enough space in the toe box prevents cramping.

A shoe that fits well when you stand erect is not enough. Take a short run and check for overall comfort before you checkout.

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Now that you know running shoes a little better than before, pick wisely. Remember the wrong shoes won’t just dip performance but can also cause foot fatigue, shoe blisters and foot overload which could lead to injuries.

Dr Abhishek Kini is a foot and ankle reconstruction surgeon at Sportsmed Mumbai

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