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How to Buy Running Shoes: Tips to Treat Your Feet Right

Experts offer 13 tips for finding the running shoes that are best for you.

Know Your Arch

The shape of your arch helps determine whether you pronate (roll to the inside of the foot), supinate (roll to the outside of the foot) or remain pretty neutral when you run.

Supinators (sometimes called underpronators) are rare, says Wilk. Many more people overpronate, which can lead to lots of overuse injuries.

Get to know your arch," says exercise physiologist Jesse Pittsley, PhD, director of exercise science at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. "If a person has really flat feet, they're going to need more of a stability shoe but with a higher arch, they'll need more of a curved shoe."

Many stores that sell running shoes will give you a "wet test," that is, they moisten the bottom of your foot and have you make an imprint on a sidewalk or dark piece of paper to determine the size of your arch.

Test 360 Degrees

When you are being fitted for running shoes, it's not only important that there is enough space in the toe box when you stand, your whole foot should fit on the platform of the shoe, Wilk says.

"I teach my staff to palpate 360 degrees around the foot to make sure that all the bones are sitting on the shoe platform," he says. "The shoe fitting is not just that the upper is wide and long enough." says Wilk.

The running shoe shouldn't squeeze the foot, and the entire width of the foot should be touching the base of the shoe.

Shop Late

Feet swell during the day, says Julie Isphording, a former Olympic runner and organizer of Cincinnati's historic Thanksgiving Day Race. They also swell during a run, so trying on running shoes when your feet are at their largest is going to give you the most comfortable fit.

Bring Your Old Shoes

When you are shopping for a new pair of running shoes, bring your old ones along, Isphording says. No, you don't get to have them resoled or trade them in, but you can help the salesperson determine what kind of running shoes you need by having him look at the pair you've been wearing. The salesperson will look at the way your old shoe is worn to confirm your running patterns.

Get Measured

Feet actually change as we age, says Isphording. "As adults," she says, "we rarely have our foot measured because we just assume we know our size."

Determining your shoe size is essential for a comfortable fit. Keep in mind, too, that the size you wear in a Saucony shoe may not be the size you wear in an Adidas shoe.

Not only the size, but the shape of our feet change over time, she adds. If your foot flattens, for example, you may need to change the type of shoe you buy from one designed for stability to one with motion control.

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