Not everyone is a runner. At the Kingsbury Club we get this. We see cross-fitters, power-walkers, power-lifters, you name it Along with this diversity in exercise preference, unfortunately, we also see an array of injuries: Plantar fasciitis, tilted hips andankle sprains being just a few of the common traumas. Health professionals may recommend seeing a physical therapist, but they’ll also emphasize the importance of proper footwear while exercising. While it’s tempting to snag a pair of kicks based on what looks good, there’s actually a whole lot more to take into consideration.
STEP 1: FIND A PROFESSIONAL
I took a trip to Marathon Sports in Plymouth to get some advice from store manager Joe Moscariello on how to pick the best running shoe. Marathon employees must complete more than 200 hours of training before they are allowed on the floor to assist with fittings, so I knew I was in good hands.
STEP 2: BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR FITNESS GOALS AND UP FRONT ABOUT ANY INJURIES
During my consultation with Joe, we discussed my daily activities, fitness history, current training regimen and past and present injuries.
STEP 3: EVALUATE YOUR MOTION MECHANICS AND MEASURE
Removing my own shoes, Joe gave me a pair of cotton-free socks and asked me to walk around the store while he observed how I moved. He could see how the past injuries I’d described affected my stride.
Here is a graphic from Runner’s World, of what the more common running mechanics are.
He then properly measured my shoe size—width and length, something I hadn’t done since I was a child. We assume that our feet stop growing and do not change at a certain age however things like hammer toe or bunions can change the way a lot of shoes fit.
STEP 4: DETERMINE YOUR NEEDS
Joe explained that I had minor supination, a rotation of the foot and leg in which the foot rolls outward with an elevated arch. This meant that I was putting unnecessary emphasis on the outsides of my feet when I ran. Apparently this is common for people who aren’t distance runners. Joe advised that I’d need sneakers with plenty of support and flexibility. A wide shoe with an elevated heel would offer that support and increased quad activation while cross-training – something that was essential to meeting my fitness goals.
STEP 5: REALLY TEST THEM OUT!
After trying on a few different pairs of sneakers, Joe and I went outside and he observed as I jogged around the parking lot and displayed some explosive lateral movements. While each shoe felt comfortable walking around in the store, it was the testing outside where I could feel the biggest difference. With the addition of a special pair of inserts, I was experiencing comfort I’d never had in a running shoe before.
STEP 6 : MAINTENANCE FOR LONGEVITY
As I checked out, Joe told me to enjoy my training and that he’d see me next time, which lead me to a question: how long should sneakers last? I’d grown accustomed to wearing them until they had holes. I actually considered it a point of pride that my shoes had molded to my feet. Little did I know I was actually doing a lot of damage. Joe explained that the support in shoes breaks down over time, which can cause pain and actually encourage injuries. Sneakers should be replaced every 350 – 600 miles. Wearing them around the house, to work and in my everyday life would mean I’d reach this in about 6 weeks, so Joe suggested I limit their wear to training. If you train multiple days in a row, it’s probably best to invest in multiple pairs and rotate their usage. Doing so will allow the foam in the soles to regain its shape after compression from running or training sessions.
Here’s a picture of Joe with the multiple shoes he’s currently using to train.
BONUS STEP: SOCKS!
Don’t underestimate the importance of proper socks! Cotton mixed with sweat will cause your body to lose its thermal ability, not to mention the materials allows your foot to slide around inside your shoe, which can cause discomfort and lack of traction. Invest in a few pairs of cotton-free socks for training and you will feel the difference all the more.
Lacey Pustizzi is a former professional field hockey athlete and college coach who still competes competitively and is an active social media coordinator and employee of the Kingsbury Club & Spa.