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Frequently Asked Questions

2. Do socks matter? YES. Look for socks made of moisture-wicking acrylics or polyester blends such as Coolmax, which absorb moisture, keep feet dry, and help prevent blisters. Cotton socks get wet and stay wet, causing friction that contributes to hot spots and blisters. 3. When do I replace running shoes? Running shoes are generally built to last 300 -500 miles. By that time, the cushioning and support features of the shoe have started to break down significantly. A runner logging 2 0 miles a week should expect to get a new pair of shoes every four to six months. 4. Do I need to bring anything with me when I'm ready to buy new shoes? Bring in your current running or walking shoes and the socks you like to wear while running or walking. If you wear orthotics or another type of insert bring them too, as they can affect the fit of the shoe. 5. Why do you need to see my old shoes? Bring in your current shoes (whether you liked them or not) to see what you've been wearing and how you've been wear ing them. Wear patterns on soles can help a fit specialist identify your biomechanic needs and determine the proper type of shoe for your feet. 6. Why can't I just pick a shoe with nice colors? When it comes to running and walking shoes, you must choose funct ion over fashion. We'll bring you a selection of shoes that best meet your needs. Sometimes they look good too! 7. I walk. Is it OK to wear a running shoe? Yes. Running shoes offer a wider variety of cushioning and support features than an be found in most wa lking shoes. There are some good walking shoes out there -- using running shoe technology -- but many walkers are successful with running shoes at distances ranging from a couple of miles to the marathon. 8. Why do you watch me walk/run? We're looking at your footstrike and gait to evaluate the mechanics of your stride, which in turn helps us decide the proper type of shoe for you. 9. Why do I need a running shoe? Can't I just run in my favorite sneaker? Running shoes are built to support and cushion your foot while in the specific act of running and walking. While running, the impact of each

foot strike is three to five times your body weight. Your Keds just can't cut it! 10. Why is my running shoe size bigger than the size of my dress shoes? Running shoes are just sized differently than other shoes, even other athletic shoes. Also, you need about a thumb's width of room between your longest toe and the front of the running shoe for the footwear to function properly. Expect your running/walking shoe to be from one half to two sizes larger than your other shoes. 11. Why do I need to take off my socks when being fit for shoes? Looking at the bare foot, we can better see the shape of your arch, as well as evidence of blisters or hot spots, calluses, corns, bunions, or other things that need to be considered when fitting a shoe. 12. When is it time to retire my running shoes? Ken Becker, Phoenix Between 300 and 500 miles. Why the range? Because how quickly a shoe wears depends on you. If you land hard on your heels with each stride, for example, you're going to wear through shoes more quickly than more efficient runners. Go by feel. If after a normal run your legs feel as if the shoes aren't providing you adequate protection , they probably aren't. Give your legs a week to make sure it's really the shoes and you're not just tired. If the shoes still feel dead, replace them. We can tell you that the vast majority of runners replace their shoes too late. When you can see white midsole material poking through the outsole or when the sole under the heel looks crushed, the shoes are long past their prime.
I'm new to the sport, and when I went to buy my running shoes, the local running-store owner explained that training in two or three different shoe models is better for your feet. I bought her story and walked out with two different pairs. Any truth to this?Rachel Setton, Brooklyn Good advice, but the up-front cost can seem pretty high. Running in more than one pair will help your biomechanics adapt ever so slightly to each shoe. These adaptations are a good thing because they help prevent overuse injuries. In addition, midsole foam requires as long as 24 hours to fully recover from a run. So if you run at night and then need to g et an early workout in the next morning, a different pair will give your body more protection. After a few tours as an Army fitness trainer stationed in Iraq, I've developed plantar fasciitis. I am a high-arched runner, so what should I look for in a shoe to help curb the pain?Staff Sgt. James Moore You should run in neutral-cushioned shoes, since your foot doesn't roll

inward enough at footstrike. Adding an aftermarket insole to your shoes will help distribute the pressure and curb your plantar pain. Or try a heel lift, such as Spenco Gel heel cups, which takes some pressure off your plantar fascia by shortening the length your calf has to stretch . Sadly, rest and icetwo things undoubtedly in short supply in Iraq are key to getting over plantar fasciitis.
Does the surface you run on affect how your shoes break down? Chris Kuemple, Spring, Texas Road running will make your shoes wear faster than t rail running, for sure, but the way you run is an even bigger factor. A 200 -pound heavy heel-striker who runs exclusively on trails will most likely wear out his shoes well before a 100-pound biomechanically efficient road runner. If you're worried that your shoes are ready for retirement, take a close look at them. If the upper appears pulled or stretched so that the foot is sliding off the midsole, or the grooves on the outsole are worn smooth, it's time for new running shoes.

13. I notice that during long runs in my motion-control shoes, the balls of my feet hurt. Does this have anything to do with my shoes, my gait, aging, or all of the above? Aidan Lee, Brentwood, Tennessee As we age, the natural cushioning of the foot starts to lose its resiliency, which means shoes with good cushioning are especially important for older runners. To address your sore feet, look for a shoe with good support but better RW Shoe Lab cushioning scores. If you're lighter weight (under 160 pounds), consider moving from a motion-control to a stability model.
The wet test confirms I have flat feet, but my shoes wear along the outside edges. Also, I experience pain along the outside of my knee eight to nine miles into my runs. What type of shoe should I wear? Bill Ritz, Salinas, California Chances are your shoe's giving you too much support or you're running in worn-out trainers that are stressing your iliotibial band (ITB). Either way, you're supinating, which means your foot is not rolling inward enough at footstrike. To determine the type of shoe you need, go to a specialty running store to get feedback on your gait. You're likely one of the few runners with flat feet who do not overpronate and need a less-supportive shoe. Is there any harm in someone with normal arches wearing motion control shoes?Joseph Rose, Modesto, California

It depends how much you weigh and how much you pronate. If you weigh less than 140 pounds (120 pounds for women) an d overpronate, you'll get plenty of support in a moderate stability shoe. If you weigh 160 to 180 pounds (140 to 160 pounds for women) and overpronate, then go with motion-control shoes. Bigger runners who wear stability shoes will not get the support they need and can actually bottom out the cushioning, negating the shoe's ability to protect the foot from impact.
My shoes wear along the outside, and I have low arches. What type of shoe should I wear?Michelle "Mimi" Brice, Hayward, California If that wear is in the heel only, you're one of the 80 percent of runners who are heel-strikers, which means your shoes should offer plenty of impact protection in the heel. Just keep in mind that women often see wear along the outer edge of their shoes because of the greater Q-angle (quadriceps angle) from the hip down to the knee. Shoes with a durable outsole material like carbon rubber will help minimize the wear. Because you have low arches, we recommend going with a more supportive shoe. I have flat feet, and my arches always get sore after long runs. Why is this, and how can I stop the pain?Lynne Wekerle, Cincinnati You most likely have either post-tibial tendonitis or plantar fasciitis. Oftentimes, injuries to the post-tibial tendon are seen just above the ankle, so we're thinking it's plantar fasciitis. We recommend getting properly fitted into a supportive shoe by a specialty running shop. To help the plantar fascia heal, wear shoes with plenty of support even when you're not running, and stretch and massage y our arches when you get up in the morning as well as before and after you run. If the pain persists or gets worse, see a sports-medicine doctor.

14. Is it possible to have flat feet but not overpronate? Bryanna Johnson, Salt Lake City It's possible, yes, but uncommon. People with flat feet usually have flexible joints that cause their ankles to roll too far inward at heel -strike. If that's not happening to you, you're compensating somewhere else in the foot, knee, or even hip. Compensation isn't necessarily a b ad thing. Your body has found a way to disperse the impact forces that can cause injuries. So you really only need a firm neutral -cushioned shoe.
After years of playing soccer, I recently started running with my dad and developed shin splints. Is there a shoe that will help with this?Chris Weglein, Sebastopol, California "Shin splints" is a catchall term for pain that usually occurs to the outside of the shin and is common in new runners. A soft, stable shoe

can help manage your discomfort. Softer shoes will help absorb the impact that occurs when you run on hard surfaces. A decent amount of stability is also important, as this will slow the rate that your feet pronate, which reduces the stress on your shins.
I'm experiencing discomfort in my heels. Can you recommend a particular shoe for my situation?Nancy Morales, Miami We're thinking you may have plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the band of tissue (the fascia) on the underside of your foot that connects to the heel. Either your current shoes aren't supportive enough or they're worn out. Plantar fasciitis can be exacerbated by overpronation because the fascia helps realign the foot a s it moves through the gait cycle. Therefore, more stable running shoes will help relieve some of the stress on the fascia. We also recommend you do some rehabilitation. For simple tips on relieving plantar fasciitis, click here. If your heel pain persists or gets worse, see a sports-medicine doctor. I saw a Spalding running shoe offered at a Payless shoe store. Have you guys seen it? What's your take?Donna Belitza, Greenbelt, Maryland You probably saw the $35 Payless Spalding Amp. We tested these shoes recently at the RW Shoe Lab. Our verdict? It's not a bad basic running shoe. We put more than 300 miles on some pairs and they held up wellbetter than you'd expect at thi s price. We categorized the Amp as a stability shoe, but it's lightweight and offers less support than other shoes in that category, so it's definitely not a good match for all stability-shoe wearers. Bottom line: While it's better than running in high tops, at Payless you will not get the same expert fit advice you will at a running specialty-retail store. Stick with the experts. I'm a heavy-framed runner and a significant overpronator. Am I chained to motion-control shoes for life, or is there any way to move into a pair of lighter shoes?Chad Meli, Middletown, Connecticut You're not trapped, Chad. For your lower -mileage runs, buy a pair of stability shoes and add a rigid over -the-counter orthotic. This combination will give you the stability you need in a lightweight package. If you weigh north of 170 pounds, look for firmer stability shoes, above. These shoes will be less likely to overcompress when your heel hits the ground, which jeopardizes the amount of protection the shoe offers. For your longer runs, however, stick with motion control shoes, because your biomechanics are more likely to break down, and you'll be happy you have the added pronation control.

15. My heel slips out of my running shoe with every pair I buy. Does this happen to other women, and what can I do to prevent it? Krista Huskey, East Lansing, Michigan Unfortunately many women's running shoes are still basically the same as the men's, except for the color. This means they are generally wide in the heel on most women. Many major running -shoe companies are starting to offer gender-specific lasts (the forms shoes are built on) instead of the unisex lasts they currently use, resulting in better -fitting shoes. For immediate relief with your current shoes, try adding a flat over-the-counter insole underneath your sockliner to make the fit narrower without affecting the overall length. Also experiment with different lacing patterns to more securely wrap the top of the shoe and lock in the heel. See for our best suggestions.
After a nine-month battle with plantar fasciitis I am pain-free. What features should I look for in my shoes as I start to get back into running?David Brandriss, Dallas Look for a stability shoe with a good fit in the heel and arch. Manufacturers strengthen a shoe's arch support with upper overlays that help the shoe better wrap around the midfoot. But in order for any system to work, your shoes need to be tied properly. We see weartesters slip out of tied shoes all the time a sure way to eliminate any benefit. If you can slip them off, your shoes are too loose. Also, make an effort to strengthen your feet, which will help your plantar fascia by working the small muscles in the foot. A great way to do this is by walking barefoot in the grass or on the beach, but start slowly, and at the first twinge of discomfort, put your shoes on. Is there such a thing as a running sandal? If so, what should I look for in a pair?ean Belman, East Lansing, Michigan Companies such as Merrell, Bite, and Teva all make running sandals that cost the same as running shoes. You should use the same criteria for fit with sandals as you do with shoes: They need to provide ample room for your toes and forefoot, wrap the arch securely, and fit snugly in the heel. Halfway through my runs, my shoe inserts tend to slide forward. Can you tell me how to fix this?R. Patrick Concepcion, San Francisco If they're slipping only after you run for a whil e, maybe you just need to lace your shoes more snugly. If you can kick them off without unlacing them, your shoes are too loose, which is allowing your inserts to slide around. This is definitely going to compromise the support you're

getting from your shoes. To check that your inserts fit properly, bring them with you when you go to a specialty retailer to buy your shoes. And be aware that your inserts may fit better in one shoe than another, because manufacturers all use different lasts, or foot forms, wh en constructing shoes. Also, your feet may be different.
Is it possible that the exact same pair of shoes (same manufacturer, model, and color) can fit differently? Heather J. Brown, Charlotte, North Carolina Yes. Though shoe companies put huge resources into quality control, no two shoes are exactly the same (kind of like snowflakes). Most running shoes are handmade, and up to 50 operators may handle a shoe from start to finish on an assembly line. The same shoe can be made in different factories with different levels of quality control. Sometimes even a minor update, such as a change in upper pattern or materials, can affect fit. Our advice: Always try on the shoes. And because foot lengths also vary, fit your longer foot. If one foot doesn't feel right b ut the other does, that's not good enough. Ask to try another pair.