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Running Shoes: Basic Guidelines
People run for many different reasons. For some, it gives them a positive
energy boost, and it’s an ideal way to keep their weight in check. For others,
it’s the buzz of competition, or quite simply, because they enjoy it.
One of the first steps to healthy running is wearing supportive running
shoes. Neglecting to wear proper footwear can lead to a variety of foot
problems that can cause injury and impede performance.
To find the best running shoe, you must first determine your foot type. Are
you a pronator or a supinator, or do you have neutral feet? Pronators have
relatively flat feet, leading to overpronation (gait in which the ankle rolls
inward excessively). Supinators have high arches, leading to underpronation
(gait in which too much weight is placed on the outside of the feet).
And finally, if you have neutral feet, you have a foot that is in-between a
flat-foot and high arch.
For assistance in determining your foot type, consult a podiatric physician.
Your podiatrist will perform a gait analysis and provide suggestions about
the best running shoe for your foot type. Taking the “wet test” is another
way to determine your foot type. To take this simple test, wet the bottom
of each of foot and stand normally on a paper bag. After a minute, step off
Follow these basic guidelines for successful running shoe shopping:
✓ Have your feet measured while you’re standing
✓ Always try on both shoes and test your running shoes while still in the
✓ Shop for shoes later in the day; feet tend to swell during the day
✓ Buy shoes that don’t pinch your toes, either at the tips, or across the toe
✓Wear or buy the socks you’ll wear when you run
✓ If you wear orthotics, bring them. You need to see how the shoe fits
with the orthotic inside.
✓ People who are pronators (low/flat arch) should choose a supportive
shoe designed for stability and motion control. These shoes help to correct
✓ People who have a neutral arch should choose a shoe with equal
amounts of stability and cushioning to help absorb shock
✓ People who are supinators (high arch) should choose a cushioned running shoe with a softer midsole and more flexibility. These features will compensate for the poor shock absorption of a high-arched foot
If you suffer from bunions, finding the right running shoe may be a
little tricky, but it can be done. Look for shoes that provide soft mesh at
the sides for more comfort and cushioning, a wide toe box, and a snug
heel for stability.
Looking for a pair of running shoes that fit your feet? View a complete list
of shoes and products with APMA’s Seal of Acceptance. Go to APMA.org
and click on “Learn About Feet”
Arthritis and Pain Management
If you have been diagnosed with
arthritis, or joint inflammation,
you know all too well the pain
associated with the disease.
There are several types of
arthritis, but the most common
form is osteoarthritis, or “wearand-
tear” arthritis. Also referred to as degenerative joint disease, it’s the breakdown of cartilage that cushions
the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. This breakdown causes the bones to rub against each
other, causing pain, stiffness, and loss of movement in the joint.
In the foot, osteoarthritis can affect any joint. Symptoms associated with osteoarthritis are tenderness or pain,
stiffness in the joint, swelling in the joint, and reduced ability to move, walk, or bear weight. Proper diagnosis,
early treatment, and pain management are all key factors in preventing joint deformity and disability.
Treatment entails taking medications for arthritis management. These medications include analgesics and
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to provide pain relief and reduce inflammation. Analgesic
medications are commonly sold over the counter as Tylenol or acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is most
effective for mild to moderate pain. NSAIDs have anti-inflammatory, painkilling, and fever-reducing properties.
Some common NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin and Advil), naproxen, and prescription
medications such as Celebrex.
Experts are divided over the role of acetaminophen versus NSAIDs. Both are commonly prescribed for osteoarthritis
and both are equally effective for pain relief. Factors to consider when choosing either analgesics
or NSAIDs include cost, risks, and personal preference.
Other treatment options include steroid medications, pads or arch supports, inserts that support the
ankle and foot, physical therapy, custom orthotics, and surgery.
Here are a few foot care tips to consider for arthritis management:
✓Wear shoes that fit properly and feel comfortable
✓Wear shoes with more cushioning and rubber soles
✓ Perform exercises to help keep your feet pain-free, flexible, and strong:
o Achilles stretch–With your palms flat on a wall, lean against the wall and place one foot
forward and one foot back. Lean forward, leaving your heels on the floor. Repeat 3 times,
holding for 10 seconds on each side.
o Toe pull–Place a thick rubber band around the toes of each foot, and then spread your
toes. Hold this position for five seconds and repeat 10 more times.
o Toe curl– Pick up marbles or any small objects with your toes.
Consult your podiatrist to determine the best course of treatment for foot and ankle osteoarthritis.
Ouch! Shin Splints…Too Much, Too Soon
If you are an avid walker, have begun a new
exercise program, or are an experienced
runner, you may have experienced one of the
most common lower extremity ailments, shin
splints. Shin splints are characterized as pain
at the front inside area of the shin bone due
to overexertion of the muscles. Shin splints
usually involve small tears in the leg muscles
where they are attached to the shin bone.
The most common cause of shin splints is
inflammation of the periostium of the tibia
(sheath surrounding the bones). Some other
common causes include flat feet (overpronation),
a high arch (underpronation), inadequate
footwear, running on hard surfaces,
and increasing training too quickly.
Use the following tips to treat and prevent shin splints:
✓ For immediate pain relief:
o ice the area to reduce pain and inflammation;
o take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory
(e.g., ibuprofen); and
✓ rest to allow the injury to heal.
✓ Stretch and strengthen the leg muscles
✓Wear insoles or orthotics that offer arch support
✓ Make sure you have the right running shoe for your foot type and for the activity
✓ Avoid running on hard surfaces
✓ Shorten your stride
✓ Consult a podiatrist if your pain is really bad.
You should get a full diagnosis to find out if there is a stress fracture in the area.