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As the weather has gotten warmer, outdoor running season has kicked into full swing. No more dusty gyms and noisy treadmills- just you, your feet, and the open road.

The start of this new running season also means that you should probably invest in new running shoes. You want to make sure you buy the right shoe for your foot, but there are so many options to choose from, the decision can be overwhelming.

A lot of runners suffer from hip pain, knee pain, back pain and ankle pain, and all of these issues can often be avoided by wearing the best, most supportive shoes. That’s why it’s important to make the most informed decision. Here are five tips for buying the best running shoe for you!

1. Age is Crucial

The first thing you should evaluate about your shoe is how old it is. The average running shoe is only designed to last about 6 months if you average 9-12 miles per week. If your shoe is worn down and falling apart, you are definitely not getting the support you need to keep yourself healthy and injury-free after a long run.

If you’ve been running in the same pair of shoes for a year or two, chances are your feet will benefit from better support. Before you head out for a long outdoor run, check your shoe for signs of stretching and general wear and tear. When in doubt, invest in new shoes that you know will provide you with the best support and save yourself some major aches and pains in the long run.

2. Support, Support, Support

Proper support is key when finding the perfect running shoe. Every foot type, from flat feet to high arches, needs a surplus of support and stability. A sure-sign stability evaluation before buying a pair of shoes is called a twist test. To do this, simply take your shoe in your hands and twist it every which way you can think of: fold it up, twist it from side to side, and bend it backwards.

The more easily the shoe can twist, the worse it is for your feet. The absolute worst kind of shoe you can buy, especially for running, is one that you can ball up easily in your hand. This means that the entire shoe offers poor support and stability. Buying a shoe with this design will put you at risk for injuries throughout your entire body, not just your feet.

3. Know Your Size

Having a durable and supportive shoe are both crucial for foot health when running, but neither will be effective if your shoe doesn’t fit right. Even if you know your typical shoe size, it’s still important to try on a new running shoe before you buy it. All shoes size differently, and making sure your shoes fit correctly is imperative. Some people also have different foot structures to accommodate for, so finding the perfect fit can be a little tricky. If you have a Morton’s Toe for example, and your second toe is the longest on your foot, it is important to buy a shoe to fit that longest toe.

Having a shoe that is too tight can cause blisters, while having a shoe that is too loose doesn’t provide sufficient support and can lead to a rolled or sprained ankle. Your shoes should be big enough to easily wiggle your toes and allow a little extra room for swelling that naturally occurs in exercise. On the flip side, however, your shoe needs to fit tightly enough so that your feet are not moving around inside your shoe while you run.

4. Brands Don’t Matter

We’re all guilty of finding one shoe brand we love and having an undying devotion to that shoe. However, this can sometimes get us in trouble. Just because you have found one shoe from a particular brand that works for you doesn’t necessarily mean you should exclusively buy from that brand. Conversely, just because you’ve had a bad experience with a brand in the past, doesn’t mean they don’t make a shoe that will work wonders. It’s important to keep an open mind and invest in what feels best on your feet!

5. When in Doubt, Orthotics

Even after doing all the right research and trying what feels like hundreds of shoes, your feet can still need extra support. If you aren’t satisfied with your running experience after buying what you thought was the “perfect” shoe, orthotics could be a great next step. Orthotics are custom-made shoe inserts that provide extra support where you need it most. They are an excellent option for conservative treatment of arch and heel pain that comes from the flattening of the arch.

As your foot becomes strained, the muscles, tendons, and tissues in the arch that support your foot begin to tear. This results in severe instability that can lead to more serious foot problems like Achilles Tendonitis, Osteoarthritis, and even Plantar Fasciitis. Running without sufficient support can definitely cause strain on your foot, so investing in orthotics could be the best option to prevent serious foot injuries.

Running is a great way to stay in shape and get healthy, so the last thing you should have to worry about is injury! If you are struggling to find the perfect shoe for your foot, check out FLEET FEET here in Lexington. The professional and knowledgeable staff will work with you to evaluate your wishlist AND your foot type to find your perfect fit. They even have a Foot ID machine that analyzes your foot shape and recommends the best shoes for you. Check out our YouTube video below to learn more!