Need a new pair of shoes?

Sharon Rekieta, Fitness and Wellness Director - 9th November 2012

What I typically hear from runners and other fitness enthusiasts: “I must be doing something wrong lately because my (pick one) knees, feet, ankles, shins, hips, lower back, are starting to hurt.”  While my eyes look down to observe their footwear, I ask, how old are your shoes?  The typical response, “Oh, my shoes are pretty new—I’ve only been wearing them about a year.”

Most athletic shoes have a life of about 300 to 500 miles or a few months.  If you also use them as knock-around shoes, the soles, inner linings, support system and cushioning will wear out even faster and some part(s) of your body will start talking to you—and not in a nice way.

If you are realizing it is time to search for a new pair of shoes and you make a trip to your favorite footwear store, here are statements you DON’T want to hear from the salesperson: This shoe is our bestseller; My sister works out all the time and loves these shoes; LeBron, Peyton, Serena, Tiger, wear only this brand; These will look good on you; Let me show you what’s on sale.

Instead, what you should hear are questions about your workout routine, what brand and type of shoes do you usually wear and are you having any aches or pains that might be “shoe-related.”

If you’ve never been to a specialty footwear store, now may be the time for several reasons.  The staff are very knowledgeable about different styles and brands and what may be appropriate for you and your favorite activity.  In addition, the salesperson will typically perform some type of foot or gait analysis that will help indicate what styles will feel best for your feet and activity.  And, the salespeople are not on commission so there is no incentive for selling you a more expensive pair or more than what you need.

And yes, you might pay more; however, it’s worth the extra money to be personally fitted.  Plus, remember that most of us don’t mind plunking down $100 for a snappy shirt or a cool pair of running pants so we shouldn’t balk at spending a comparable amount, or perhaps less, for a good pair of shoes—the most important investment an active person can make.

A note about the break-in period.  Most experts recommend that you break in a pair of shoes before a competition or a long-distance event to give you and the pair an opportunity to bond.  However, there should be no break-in time required to feel comfortable—new shoes should feel like heaven to your feet the first time you put them on to take them out for a test walk.