The weather is nice, so I’m back into the running routine. But something didn’t feel right. My feet, ankles, and knees were really taking a beating. Am I just getting old(er)? or is something else to blame?
If you’ve chosen to start a running, walking or hiking program for exercise because all it takes is a pair of shoes to start, listen up. If those shoes are ill-fitting, you may just be doing more harm than good. Poor quality shoes can cause stress fractures of the bones in your feet and ankle, muscle sprains, knee injuries, hip in juries and even herniated discs and pinched nerves.
On the suggestion of my sister, a high school track star and avid daily runner, I went to a specialty store to get properly fitted for running shoes.
Again, I don’t get paid to write about certain stores, but the store I chose was Fleet Feet in Sandy Springs, Georgia. The store owner, Paul had been fitting people with running and walking shoes for over 20 years. His wife worked with him and she had many years of experience as well.
I was greeted with a smile when I entered the store, and although I had to wait a bit to be fitted because other were being fitted, the wait was no longer than 10 minutes. The wait allowed me to listen to who else was there and how they being fitted. There was another woman there, probably in her late 50’s, that was being fitted for running shoes, and a younger woman being fitted for walking shoes. Another man, who had the physique of a marathon runner came in to purchase another pair of the shoes he purchased there a while ago. Turns out, he does run marathons.
When it was my turn, the first thing I did was take off my shoes and socks and sit in front of Paul. (so glad I had that pedicure….) He looked at my feet and asked me if I was having any pain or problems. Then he asked me what I was planning on doing with my new shoes….walking for exercise, jogging, training, racing, etc.
He then had me sit and stand a few times so he could see my arches and how much they “fell” when I stood.
Paul measured my foot, again, sitting and standing, measuring the size and the width.
Turns out my current shoes, (generic shoes from a discount store) were a whole size smaller than my true correct fitted size. Also, my old shoes didn’t have any arch support at all, so with each step, I was doing damage to my arch and ankle. (hence the ankle and calf pain I was getting after the first mile)
He brought out a pair of running shoes so he could observe my stride. I put them on and he watched me run outside in the parking lot: first away from him, then towards him. He was looking at the way my foot turned with each stride. It turns out, my foot turns out. :) This is called “overpronating”.
He suggested an insert that provided extra arch support as well as heel support for my particular stride.
He then brought out a running shoe that:
- was my correct size
- had extra arch firmness (the inside of the shoe was very stiff)
- was lightweight
- was the proper shoes for my training goal: a 1/2 marathon
Then he had me try some running socks. These are socks that have moisture control, and the seams are on the outside to prevent any abnormal pressure.
The shoes were not cheap ($95) but I felt like it was a tradeoff for the cost of an injury as there is no way I could have continued with my current footwear and reached the goals I had set.
Equipped with my new shoes, inserts, and socks I went out this morning for my run.
I was truly amazed at the difference these new shoes and socks made. I was able to complete my run without the ankle pain and knee pain that I usually get. My feet felt great!
Any exercise program requires proper equipment. If you are planning to start a walking or running program, or if you have started one but are having problems with injuries, (even if they are not foot injuries) you may want to get properly fitted for shoes to see if this makes a difference.
You may not realize how good exercise can feel!
Here is great article on buying running shoes
Here is a great article on buying walking shoes
Here is great article on buying hiking shoes