Shoe Buyer's FAQ
Shoe Buying FAQ
Click here for our shoe chart. We wear test and categorize all of our models to ensure that we avoid the "junkballs." This chart is a simple guideline to the world of stability, cushioning, and you. To review weights and heel-to-toe offsets of current models, open this chart.
Do I need maximum cushioning?
Cushioning is something I could create for you in my basement. Most people make the mistake of choosing a shoe that markets itself based on cushioning. However, most (and I would put the number around 85%) people need support and stability. The appropriate combination/amount of these elements will make a shoe feel softer as you fatigue. More importantly, as your body approaches ineffective biomechanics, a shoe with adequate support will help maintain your efficiency.
Do my narrow feet require a narrow shoe?
Most fit issues result from two major causes:
- The heel and rearfoot fit (the heel and across the top of the instep closest to the ankle) and
- A lack of stability.
Do not mistake a good fit with simply getting a shoe so tight that it doesn't slip anywhere. The real battle is to find a shoe that keeps your rearfoot from feeling sloppy while still allowing the forefoot to be released from restrictions. One of the most common fit mistakes people make is cramming their forefoot into a shoe that is too narrow to feel secure. Your feet will swell and you need to leave space!!
If the magazine says I supinate, do I supinate?
Most people have a complicated series of positions and motion within a single foot strike. It is important to analyze your entire body to establish what your feet are doing — that's why we ask to watch you run in our parking lot. Simply categorizing yourself will narrow your choice and may actually place you in the wrong category altogether. Many shoes are mis-categorized anyway so it is important to find a professional fitting. Wet foot print tests and wear patterns are sometimes helpful in ascertaining foot structure and imbalances; however, watching you move is the only way to profile the uniqueness of you.
Do walkers need high-tech shoes?
Some people walk 5 miles a week and get all banged up while others can run 40 miles a week without a problem. Unfortunately, biomechanics dictate much of your injury potential. Never discount your level of activity, especially when training for a marathon. Walkers will find a broader range of support and fits within the running category so don't be afraid to go that way.
What's the deal with Trail Shoes?
Without generalizing too much, trail shoes are often not as supportive as stability or motion control shoes. You should avoid narrow-based shoes and shoes that are overly flexible through the arch. Many trail shoes spend so much time on aggressive outsoles and cool upper designs that they run out of money for the really essential technology of combining cushion and stability to meet most people's needs. PS - some trail shoes are okay, but they are okay because they are good running shoes so approach this category with caution.
If I'm marathon training, do I need the most expensive shoe?
Top of the line very rarely means most expensive. No matter what your foot motion is like and no matter what size you are, the most effective shoes on the market are between $90 and $120. There is no reason to pay $150 for a shoe. Sometimes, those shoes turn out to be the best for certain individuals, but almost always, there are viable options in the previously mentioned price range. If you are looking for quality and durability, do not go below $85. There's nothing there for anyone concerned about getting the best shoe for their needs.
Is it painful to break in a new pair of shoes?
Well, expect some pain associated with running or walking. That's part of getting better. However, pain usually indicates that your body is trying to protect itself from greater harm. Shoes can take a few weeks to get used to but should feel pretty usable from the very first wear. Muscle tightness and soreness in the joints is inevitable. However, severe pain is not only unacceptable, but it is also dangerous. Listen to your body. Rest days will certainly benefit you more than painful training days. As far as break-in periods go, the first few runs on a shoe should be easy and short. Let your feet and body relax. Don't look for miracles. A blister here and there is okay, but again, listen to your body. Severe abrasion points, or severe pain is not part of breaking a shoe in. Usually, if you can get on the treadmill, or walk around inside for a couple of hours prior to actually going for a walk or run, you should be able to tell if a shoe is right for you.
What can you tell me about brand loyalty?
Although some characteristics are shared throughout a line of shoes, it is important to remember that all companies have shoes spanning a variety of levels from cheap to expensive; from flexible to rigid; from good to bad. If you are looking to switch brands, classifying your particular shoe make and model -- The Nike Air Max Moto, for example - will help you find a replacement. Not all shoes are created equally. Sometimes when a shoe is discontinued, the same characteristics will appear in another brand the following season. Those of you that remember shoes like the New Balance 851 or the Asics 2040 know what I'm talking about. Try not to marry yourself to a brand. You can stick with what works when you are able to replace your shoe with the same model. However, if your favorite model is discontinued, start over! Check out options across the brands.
CLICK HERE FOR OUR SHOE CHART that displays current shoe models with a means for gaining a general idea about what type of shoe might work well for people with certain traits or problems.