The importance of size when buying running shoes
It’s not just about pronation…
How well a shoe matches the length, width, and shape of your feet may actually matter as much as, if not more than, the cushioning that goes underneath them, says Geoffrey Gray, founder and director of research at Heeluxe.
Gray’s company has tested hundreds of runners and now works with about 50 footwear brands, using research to help them improve their products. The better a shoe fits, the more comfortable runners will feel wearing it, he says. Not only does this make your kilometres more pleasant, some research suggests comfort plays a role in injury risk.
“From a kinetic chain standpoint, your foot is the first point of contact with the ground; your whole skeletal structure is supported by your feet,” says Allison Bowersock, PhD, an exercise physiologist and co-owner of RunAbout Sports.
Conventional wisdom holds that your running shoes should be about a size bigger than your dress or casual size. There’s a grain of truth to that – increased blood flow and swelling during and after exercise do make your feet expand, so your running shoes tend to be larger. However, due to sizing variations in all types of shoes, there are too many variables to know exactly how the numbers will align, says Kevin Vincent, MD, PhD, associate professor at the University of Florida and director of the UF Running Medicine Clinic.
So, start with some hard data: If you haven’t had your feet measured since your parents dragged you for school shoes, go for a fitting. The length and width of your feet change due to factors like aging, injuries, and pregnancy.
“The size you wore when you’re 18 might not be the same size you wear when you’re 42, just like you’re probably not wearing the same size pants,” Gray says. “And that’s okay. But we need to get those measurements to know how to change it.” In fact, he recommends getting measured once a year.
Ideally, you’d have this done at a local running-shoe store. For one thing, trained sales people have a feel for which brands run large or small and in which ways. Plus, trying on the shoe is the only way for you to know how comfortable it is. Go later in the day or after a run, when your feet are more swollen, Vincent says.
At Totalsports stores, there are professionals that can help with this.
And if you’ve had your size measured recently, then shopping online is also an option. Totalsports has a massive range available, from entry level to professional standards. Try their Running shoe Finder feature in their online store here.
To read more about foot and shoe size, read the full article here.