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Buying a new pair of running shoes. Fit above all else!

When buying running shoes there are many factors to consider. Some of these include price, brand, fit, and style to mention a few. As technology has become such a part of the running shoe industry, helping to "even out the playing field" throughout the market, this variable is no longer the main force driving the running shoe category. For the sake of this post, however, let's simply focus on fit and how you should find what works best for you.

Shop for shoes late in the afternoon or evening, as that's when your feet are the biggest (they swell during the day). Have the salesperson measure both feet while you're standing up, because your feet expand under the weight of your body. Carefully consider the fit and running comfort of each pair of shoes might try on. Be sure to measure both the length and the width for each foot. You should expect your running or walking shoe to be anywhere from one-half size to two sizes larger than your dress shoes.

Running shoes are sized differently, and you'll want about a thumb's width of space between the end of your longest toe and the front of the shoe. Shoes that are worn too small can result in blisters and black or lost toenails. Also, shoe sizing may vary from brand to brand, and even from style to style within the same brand so don't simply go off of what you remember or what you've worn in the past.

Remember to wear the socks you run in to test shoes. Run around the store a bit with them to see how they feel. Some stores will have a treadmill in store that you can utilize or if they don't, many shops will allow you to take a quick jog outside (watching you as you go), to make sure the fit is correct.

Also consider the type of shoe you wear depending on if you are a "pronator" or "supinator." If you are a pronator, the outside part of the heel makes initial contact with the ground. The foot "rolls" inward about fifteen percent, comes in complete contact with the ground, and can support your body weight without any problem. The rolling in of the foot optimally distributes the forces of impact. This movement, called "pronation," is critical to proper shock absorption. If you are a supinator, you will have insufficient inward roll of the foot after landing. This places extra stress on the foot and can result in iliotibial band syndrome of the knee, Achilles tendinitis, or plantar fasciitis.

Some stores that specialize in running shoes can help you find the right fit. They can tell what kind of runner you are by looking at your running shoes. Looking at the bottom of the shoe, you can tell by the pattern how you run. If it is down the middle, then you are a neutral runner, if it is down the arch side then you over pronate, and if it is down the outside then your foot supinates when you run.

Ask about the store's return policy. Most running stores allow returns on shoes that are clean and have not been worn much. Take the shoes home, wear them around the house, run in them. If they don't work, you should be able to return them. Keep your receipt and the box they came in, and work with the staff to find the shoe that's right for you.

In either case, consider fit to be one of the most important aspects when buying a new pair of running shoes. As you'll be running (typically), up to about 500 miles in a new pair of running shoes, a proper fit will go a long way!

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