Running Shoe Basics
Tony wore a different pair of shoes to work this week and got lots of questions on what shoes are good to use for running. So here are 5 tips on what you should consider when buying a pair of running shoes:
1. Shoe Size
Shoe size is important because it is very important to wear the correct size shoe. Tony likes to buy his running shoes true to size, but the size you buy is up to your personal preference. You want to make sure your toes have room to spread wide and they shouldn’t feel constricted where they touch the end of your shoe. It is important for your heel to feel comfortably cupped in the back of the shoe too, this will make it so your foot doesn’t slip! Try on different shoes until you find the ones that fit and feel the best!
2. Stack Height
Stack height is the amount of shoe material between your foot and the ground. This is expressed in the millimeter height of the heel and just below your toe. A high stack usually is 40 millimeters and has more cushion. Low stack height shoes such as track shoes are about 20 millimeters. Minimal and low stack height shoes are best for people who prefer feeling the ground over the cushioning of a shoe. Highly cushioned shoes are good for someone that prefers feeling the cushioning of a shoe instead of the ground. It depends on whatever you prefer!
3. Heel Toe Drop
This is the difference between the level of the heel and level of the toe from the ground. Take one and minus the other and that will give you your heel toe drop. The greater the drop the steeper the angle from the ankle to the forefoot. The lower the drop is considered by many to have a lower impact on the stride. The lower the drop the more the Achilles tendon is going to have to work. The best amount of drop is a personal preference. Anything over 7 is considered a high drop and under that is going to be getting closer to that barefoot feel. Most shoes are at a drop of 6, but it’s up to you what you prefer.
Tony sees it all the time when someone comes into the clinic and they just started running or bought a new pair of shoes. They feel like they get a new ache or pain while running and they aren’t sure what happened. This is because shoes have different stack heights so it creates different forces through the leg!
4. Stability or Motion Control
Stability running shoes are best for over pronators or if you have more of a flat foot. These shoes are often more rigid and are made to support the arch of the foot, which will provide greater support through the midsole that can also extend into the heel. Stability shoes are something to consider if you get aches and pains! Motion control shoes can be a little stiffer and heavier than a stability shoe. Sometimes motion control shoes have some additional heel cup support and other features in the shoe that stop the foot from rolling when running. Stability and motion control shoes are both great options for runners and should be based on what works best for you!
Dr. Tony Tanzi: Physical Therapist, Triathlete, Runner, Performance Coach