In 2020, as the pandemic changed exercise habits, it prompting new and renewed runners to head outside to log run-miles. This summer, in London Ontario we saw the return of our Forest City Road Races!

The right running shoe can make all the difference in your enjoyment of the sport. A  suitable model and fit is simply all that a runner needs to train comfortably and consistently.

Many running-shoe companies divide their shoes into two main categories: neutral and stability (or “motion-control”) shoes. A neutral shoe won’t affect your normal mechanics, but it will provide you with added support and cushion. Stability shoes, on the other hand, have denser foam along the arch of the foot. They may also have a stiffer heel/rear-foot which reduces the foot’s side-to-side movement.

Everyone’s feet naturally pronate (roll to the inner edge) or supinate (roll to the outer edge) during each running stride. Pronation allows your foot to adapt to the landing surface, and supination propels you forward.  Running-shoe companies make two kinds of shoes—stability and neutral.  

The majority of runners fit well in a neutral shoe, but there are some people who feel that they need more motion control and will move up to a stability shoe.  Historically, people were migrating towards the stability shoe however there has not been research that has supported its extensive use.

What is most important is the comfort of the shoe. Ideally your shoes should not cause you to pay attention to areas of discomfort in your feet. This is particularly important at the start of your run. Shoes that tend to cause toe pain may have narrow toe boxes, or perhaps the length of the shoe is not correct.

Each time you try on a new pair of shoes, you should be mindful of the fact that sizing can change within a model from year to year and also our feet change over time.  Do not fixate on the same size from year to year but rather the feel of the shoe on your foot.

Other factors such as the "drop" from heel to toe as well as the design of the laces are important factors to consider when you lace up.  

Our clinical team at Physiohaus may be biased ... but we feel that it's important to look at the structure of your foot and how it functions underneath the rest of your body. Your running style as well as muscle balance and architecture will dictate how your shoes work with your feet. 

In our opinion a dynamic assessment which includes running on a treadmill or analysis of your running outside is an excellent way to ensure that you have selected the right shoes.

Whilst shoe selection is very important, if there are side to side differences that are noticeable when you run and you are developing pain or discomfort that isn't addressed with a well fit pair of shoes, you should connect with a registered healthcare professional.  This may include a physiotherapist, chiropractor, or massage therapist trained to look at muscles and ligaments, joint mobility, strength, balance and proprioception,  and overall function.

The Physiohaus RunLab includes a comprehensive mechanical assessment, interview regarding your training, and video analysis to look for efficiencies, mechanical concerns, and offer solutions to enhance your run.  We have been assessing and working with runners in London Ontario since 2017.  Our clinical team meets with running shoe store owners to bridge the gap between shoes and training. We look forward to helping you with your run!