The type of running shoe is a key decision that any runner needs to make. The good (or bad) news is that runners should have at least two pairs of running shoes and rotate them on different days. This study shows that runners who use more than one pair of running shoes are less likely to get an overuse injury.

Probably the most likely reason for this is that different running shoes will stress a different set of tissues differently. For example, running shoes can come with different ‘drops’. This is the height difference of the midsole between the heel and forefoot. Some running shoes are 10-12mm, some are 8mm and a few are down to zero. It is not hard to see that running in a 10mm drop running shoe one day and a 0mm drop running shoe the next day how the load or forces on the calf muscle are going to be different.

Moving the loads around like this can be important in preventing injuries by stressing tissues differently from day to day. The best way to do this with running shoes would be to make sure that the design features in the 2 or 3 or more shoes that you run in a very different from each other. Also, it is important that you spend time to adapt to any new running shoe so the body gets used to them, especially if they have design features that you are not used to running in.

There is no such thing as the best running shoes. You will see all over social media recommendations from people as to what is the best running shoes. It usually turns out that this is the running shoe that they are wearing. Just because that running shoe works for them does not mean it will work for you. The person giving advice in social media has no idea of the characteristics of your foot and your running gait and what your goals and aspirations are, yet they still think they can advise you without knowing that. Even worse, are those who take that anonymous advice.

Every runner is different. They have different running techniques and they have different foot structures and functions. They also have different goals with what they want from their running and they run different distances on different surfaces. To get the best running shoe for you, all of that information needs to all be taken into account. All running shoes are different. Each running shoe has different design characteristics. Those design characteristics or features need to be matched to the characters of the individual runner to get the “best”. On top of that, each brand uses a different set of lasts that the running shoes are made on, so they will vary somewhat in shapes, which need to be matched to the shape of your foot.

Rule number one is that do not try to fix what is not broken. If you are running in a particular shoe and that shoe is working for you, then do not try to change it.

If you are starting from scratch, then get yourself along to a specialty running shoe retailer who has all the knowledge and try out several different brands and models. They will generally recommend several different shoes after getting your goals and aspirations and looking at your gait and foot structure.

We will also occasionally make recommendations of specific running shoes as some shoes have a certain characteristic that is beneficial for your particular clinical problem. For example, the Brooks Adrenaline has a 12mm drop (heel is 12mm higher than the forefoot) which is some people that may be indicated to help with their problem. Others will benefit from a running shoe that has a 0mm drop. The Hoka brand of running shoe has a rocker type action in the forefoot that will benefit those with pain in their big toe joint.

There is no such thing as the best running shoe. There is such as thing as the running shoe that best works for you.

Running shoes are probably the most important piece of ‘kit’ that a runner has. Running shoes can also be expensive and if you are not using the right running shoes, this may increase the risk for an injury and may affect performance. Running shoes can ‘wear out’ and need replacing.

How often should a running shoe be replaced?

There is no hard and fast rule to answer that question. Some runners wear out there shoes a lot quicker than others. You do often see advice that they should be replaced every 350-500 miles or 550-800 kilometers, but that is not based on any actual evidence, but still could be a good guide.

Probably the best way to know when a running shoe should be replaced is to listen to your body. How do the shoes feel? Are they starting to interfere with the way you are running? Do you feel like an injury might be starting? Above all, use your common sense.

When you get your new running shoes

As running shoes wear out, there are going to be very subtle changes in the way that you run. They will be so subtle that you probably will not necessarily notice them, but your body will adapt and be used to those changes. When you get your new pair of shoes, there can be a problem as you will suddenly be changing that way you were running in the older worn out shoes. This can cause an injury if you are not careful. You should only do a few shorter runs in the new shoes initially to allow your body to adapt to the new shoes before using them for most of your runs.

If you have some questions about running shoes

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Craig has had a lot of experience with running shoes and has recently completed the New York Marathon.