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Running shoe fitting - warning, potentially controversial topic

2 watchers
Sep 2013
2:10pm, 2 Sep 2013
467 posts
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I bought my running shoes in about May last year, when I made a bit of an attempt at running. They hadn't done very many miles when a 2 week walking holiday in the Lake District left me with such severe knee pain, I kicked running (and hill walking) into touch and sought medical advice. Knee problem turned out to be nothing serious - muscle weakness, presumably from years of favouring my 'bad' knee - and has responded well to exercises to strengthen and iron out imbalances.

Roll forward to April this year, I start running regularly, and my shoes have now done about 250 miles. They're perfectly comfortable, though a bit dirty and tatty, because I also used them for walking in the dusty, thorn-ridden hills of Crete. But, mindful of the need to wear new shoes in gradually, I have been thinking about purchasing a new pair.

Then I come across reports that running shoes are as likely cause injury as prevent it, that motion control shoes are no better than neutral for pronators etc - you'll have seen such reports, I'm sure - here's one:

I have no idea whether I'm a pronator or whatever - I bought my current shoes from a general sports retailer - actually an outlet store - and there was really no fitting involved. I just bought a pair that were a good entry level general shoe and that felt comfortable. So, my question is - will there really be an advantage in going to a specialist running shop and doing the gait analysis..... isn't how they feel when you run in them the most important thing? Oh, and - I've only just resumed running after 3 weeks off with a sprained ankle - do I need to wait until I'm fully healed and back to (my) full speed before getting a new pair?

In other words - please share your experiences and opinions on how to choose a good pair of shoes.
Sep 2013
2:16pm, 2 Sep 2013
2719 posts
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Endorphins Junky
I bought my first pair the same way you did - off the shelf, cheap New Balance. They were ok. Lasted quite well.

Bought my first proper pair last December after going to Sweatshop to go on the tmill for video analysis in the store. I'd struck lucky with my first pair in the sense that I don't pronate at all. So my first expensive pair were neutral and the difference to my knees was incredible - much, much better cushioning and going down hill stopped being so painful!

I work with someone who did exactly what I did - ran for three weeks and did her ankles in completely - three months off any types of exercise. Reason - she over pronates a lot but bought shoes which didn't take account of this.

I'm not massively experienced, but I would heartily recommended Sweatshop and the video analysis they do - you do feel a bit daft doing it in a shop (go prepared!) - but so worth it.
Sep 2013
2:18pm, 2 Sep 2013
13083 posts
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I wished I'd have gone and had my feet looked at properly, I've made some holwers when it comes to choosing running shoes and I have recently changed make again.
However I think it is dependant on far you run and that may be measured over years rather than months, there's no need to be frightened of the odd injury - its all part of the process of becoming a more regular runner.

The distance you run each week / month is down to you again its a gradual progression - so choosing running shoes may change with time.

As to the arguments about support or not support well again that might be a bit of a journey - however I don't think there's anything wrong with seeking advice.

No doubt some Fetchies will be along with sensible suggestions.
Sep 2013
2:19pm, 2 Sep 2013
3242 posts
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It's a subject that has valid arguments on both sides. I think that the amount of effect a trainer can have in a positive fashion is negligible. I wear minimal ones for that reason. I've never had trainers fitted and I don't want to pay silly amounts of cash either so I buy a pair that cost the least, and I wear them until they fall apart. Then I buy another pair and repeat. No breaking in required.
Sep 2013
2:24pm, 2 Sep 2013
2652 posts
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There's no need to "run in" a pair of trainers. They should be comfortable to run in as soon as you buy them.

With regard to the rest of your post - well I work for Sweatshop so I'm bound to say getting a full gait analysis when you're buying your first few pairs of running shoes is always a good idea. SS offer this as free service, other shops may charge and then take that amount off the cost of any trainers you buy. Whether or not we're supposed to 'pronate' when we run, I have no opinion, but I have found that over-pronators who have been running in a neutral shoe or something not adequately supportive of their gait immediately feel more comfortable once they're running in a shoe that helps stabilise them.

Running shoes have cushioning as well as stability control. I'm a neutral runner and I used to run in a mid-range cushioned shoe. I was getting 200 miles or so before each run gave me aches and niggles. I switched to a highly cushioned shoe which goes for about 500 or so miles before I get nigglery runs.

If you can run without pain that you should be ok to get a pair of trainers. Gait analysis doesn't need you to run full-pelt, just your comfortable pace. It can, however, involve you having to run several times as you try different pairs of trainers, which would be uncomfortable if running still caused you pain.
Sep 2013
2:25pm, 2 Sep 2013
470 posts
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By the way - the ankle sprain was nothing to do with my shoes, and everything to do with a deep rut in a field track being hidden by the long grass. I'm more wondering that, since the fact my ankle's not back to full strength is probably affecting how I run, I might be as well to wait a bit.
Sep 2013
2:31pm, 2 Sep 2013
471 posts
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Thanks, wobbling. How does it work, then? Do you run barefoot, in your existing shoes, or what? I've only just started running again, and I am pain-free as long as I keep it slow.... when I tried to speed up, it became uncomfortable, so I eased off. I'm also currently nervous of uneven ground and steep hills, but I wouldn't get either of them on a treadmill test, I imagine.
Sep 2013
2:35pm, 2 Sep 2013
2653 posts
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You run on a treadmill in a pair of neutral trainers provided by the shop and they film you, from about mid-calf down. Some SS's will also take a look at your bare feet on a "foot balance" machine. It's part of the custom footbed service they offer, and gives the sales advisor an idea of how you distribute weight when standing.
Sep 2013
3:01pm, 2 Sep 2013
382 posts
  • 0
I would recommend having a gait analysis to find a good shoe for your running style and seeing if they suit. This doesn't necessarily happen at the first attempt, I have been through several makes before settling on my favourites (Brooks Adrenaline). I now buy my shoes online when they are on offer :)

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Maintained by RevBarbaraG
I bought my running shoes in about May last year, when I made a bit of an attempt at running. They ...

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