When it comes to shoes, it can be difficult to find that perfect size and shape. We all have that perfect set, like that perfect jumper, that we can wear over and over and over again.
Finding something as comfy for exercise can be even harder.
So just where do you start?!
Are all sizes from all brands the same fit? Are there different shapes of shoes? Should my running shoes be different to the shoes I wear to the gym?
Shoes, like clothes, have an array of different focuses and designs are created to fit a particular purpose. It is the same reason why running shoes are light, Basketball shoes, such as the new Nike Lebron 18 have strong ankle support and Football boots, such as the Under Armour Clone Magnetico, come equipped with a sole fit to use on grass.
All of these unique qualities are fantastic for specific purposes but create a saturated market with a plethora of claims behind each shoe, making the selection of that perfect pair extremely difficult!
There are a host of challenges facing those looking to find the perfect sports shoe and we have some golden guidelines to help.
Golden Rules Of Finding The Perfect Shoe
1 – Your sports shoe is your sports shoe. Don’t give your shoe a number of different challenges to face. Your running shoe should be for running whilst the shoe you lift weights in should be exactly that; the shoe you lift weights in. Each sports shoe is specifically designed for a purpose and taking its’ job outside of that remit can create issues!
2 – Get to know your feet. Every pair of feet, like every person they belong to, is unique. The spread of your toes, arch of your foot and width will all be different to the next person. Getting to know the style or brand of shoe that feels best for you is important to avoid any unnecessary discomfort.
3 – Trial and error. Unfortunately, with shoes, there is no universal sizing. Like with clothing, sizes can often differ depending on brand and the materials used. For instance, a size 10 Nike React could well feel different to a size 10 Adidas Ultraboost. Taking the time to go to a shop and get a feel for what shoes and styles feel best is crucial to securing that comfortable lace up that everyone is after.
4. A number of specialist retailers and brands will offer fitting advice, foot mapping and gait analysis, which can be very useful to understand your feet and running style. Asics among other brands offer this service in a number of their stores.
Let’s talk specifics for a moment.
If you’re looking for a running shoe, you will be searching for a shoe that can take consistent, repetitive impact. Research from Geoffrey Gray, founder and director of research at Heeluxe, has found that how well the shoe fits an individual’s length, width and shape of their feet can matter as much, if not more, than the cushioning beneath them.
Too short and you will find your toes pressed to the end, causing damage to your toe nails. Too thin and you will cause discomfort and damage to the muscles in your foot.
How To Check Your Running Shoe Fits Correctly
Your running shoe should provide some wiggle room around your toes but feel snug on your heel. You can check this by pressing down next to the ball of your foot and around your toes with your thumb. Make sure you are standing when you do this and there should be around a thumb’s width of room between your big toe and the end of the shoe.
To check the comfort at the back of the shoe, hold your trainer at the heel and try to raise your heel out of the shoe. There should be little to no movement (assuming you’ve tied them up) to indicate a snug fit.
Check the eyelet holes of the laces on either side of the tongue. A tight fit can be indicated by stretching of the material and subsequently a lop-sided comparison. Ideally, these eyelets should be close to parallel.
How To Fit Your Running Shoe
Far more frequently than you would realise, an individual can have one foot larger than the other. Whilst not ideal, it can be easily addressed when looking for a shoe; always fit the bigger foot! You would much rather have a shoe that is too big than a shoe that is too small.
Typically, due to the repetitive impact, you will find that your running shoe will be around half a size larger than your casual shoe. This simply provides the additional space for your foot as it lands and then flexes again on every stride.
Running Shoes Are For Running
A frequent sight in gyms up and down the country is an lifting weights in running shoes.
Our strong recommendation is to keep your running shoes for running. More often than not, running shoes have a cushioned sole and by default, loading that sole with additional weight can create imbalances, causing additional strain through various joints in your body.
When identifying a shoe best suited for the gym, a stiffer heel and flat sole will provide the strong foundations upon which to add additional weight in your training, such a the Nike Metcon.
With all types of shoes, something as simple as sock thickness can make a significant difference and so wearing the right socks (and the same ones you will be using) can make-or-break a shoe fitting!
The most important thing with shoes is to address any issues straight away and to check your feet regularly. Often, your feet can change size over time or through life events such as pregnancy. The last thing you want to deal with is blisters forming after your first run!
Ensuring you have a pair of shoes that a designed for the purpose you are using them and fit your feet well can help to negate injury whilst push you towards achieving your fitness goals!