GREENWICH, Conn. -- There can be many causes for the aches and pains associated with running, but sometimes it is as simple as wearing the wrong running shoe. Improperly fitting sport shoes can lead to a variety of painful foot, ankle, knee and hip conditions.
The best running shoe is one that keeps the foot in a neutral position, so it’s important to know if your feet are neutral when you stand or run, or if they are pronated (roll to the inner side of the foot) or supinated (roll to the outside of the foot). In general, people whose feet have low arches tend to pronate, while people with high arches tend to supinate. Today there are dozens models of sports shoes that are specifically designed to support each of these conditions, knowing your foot’s anatomy will help you make the right decision.
The other thing you have to consider is the type of running that you do, which determines the level of cushioning and stability you will need. For instance, trail runners need a shoe that offers more stability for the rugged terrain, while a marathon runner may need a training shoe with more cushion. An athlete training for shorter distances may use a track shoe or racing flat.
Past injuries should also be taken into consideration when making your selection. If you’ve had plantar fasciitis, for instance, an over-the-counter insert may help put your foot in a more neutral position. If you’ve had hamstring tendinitis or tightness in your calves, you should opt for a greater heel to toe incline – called an offset.
When you get a new pair of running shoes, gradually introduce them into your routine, using them only two times in the first week or two alternating with your previous pair, and then gradually increase the numbers of days that you run in them. It can be difficult to determine if your running shoes are at the root of your pain, but in general, if you develop a new pain or discomfort shortly after switching running shoes, stop using them until the pain is resolved. Consult a physician if the pain persists for more than a week.
Katie B. Vadasdi, MD is an orthopedic surgeon at Orthopaedic &Neurosurgery Speciatists (ONS) in Greenwich and Stamford. She is fellowship trained in adolescent and adult sports medicine as well as shoulder and elbow surgery. She is a tri-athlete and alpine climber who has ascended Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Rainier and the Grand Teton.