Recommending Athletic Footwear For Runners

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What You Should Know About Specialty Running Shoe Stores

It is essential to fit a patient properly for athletic footwear.However, it is increasingly difficult to find a shoe retailer with qualified employees who take the time to fit their customers. Yet, all over this country, there are independently owned specialty running shoe stores that take pride in providing expert advice and fitting of footwear. These stores usually employ experienced runners who love their sport and their work.

Most of the premium athletic shoe companies send their technical sales representatives to the specialty stores to conduct clinics for the employees. Therefore, the specialty running shoe store employees receive continuous updates and training in new technologies. Most of these stores require that customers have their feet measured before they ever try on a shoe.

Specialty running stores train their employees to evaluate feet, running gait and injury history in order to make a shoe recommendation. In many cases, the shoe recommendation is based upon a more careful analysis than what the patient’s own podiatric physician gives.This should not be the case given the fact that the podiatric physician should be able to provide a far more comprehensive evaluation of a patient. Yet, in certain situations in which the DPM cannot give such an evaluation, the next best option is a direct referral to the specialty running shoe store for advice and fitting of shoes.

In regard to locating a specialty running shoe store in your area, simply contact several of your favorite running shoe companies and ask for a list of their “preferred retailers,” which usually includes independent specialty stores. Most shoe companies list these preferred retailers on their Web sites. Go visit the store to ensure that the inventory and staffing is adequate for your patients’ needs. Leave a stack of your business cards. A store like this can refer more patients to you than any busy primary care physician.

By Douglas Richie Jr., DPM

What is a good running shoe? How often are you asked this question? It seems that whenever a stranger learns that you are a podiatric physician, the first question he or she asks is about a shoe. Rather than asking how we can prevent foot amputations in patients with diabetes, the average American is more interested in what shoe a podiatrist is recommending.
Yet when it comes to footwear recommendations, most podiatric physicians have very little objective information on which to base their opinions. Having 25 years of clinical experience in podiatric sports medicine practice, I would like to offer some guidelines for making shoe recommendations to the running athlete.
Before looking at the foot type (the obvious primary criteria for recommending a specific shoe), look at the patient. Body mass will supercede any foot type classification in terms of footwear requirements for exercise.A 200-pound individual will require an extremely firm, stable shoe whether he or she has a stable foot or not. A 110-pound female elite runner may not require motion control features in a shoe even if she is a “pronator.”
The training regimen of the patient will dictate whether multiple shoes are necessary for long road runs and speed work on a track.Many people prefer running on trails or grass, which would alter the normal cushioning requirements that would be needed on asphalt.
Finally, the age, fitness and competitive level of the patient can significantly alter the shoe recommendation. An older runner who “plods” at a 12- minute per mile pace will have different requirements than a 20-year-old elite “toe runner” who blazes along at a sixminute per mile pace.

Emphasizing The Importance Of The Patient’s Injury History

Granted, there are other factors to weigh with the patient evaluation. The patient will probably have an injury history that one should consider. In general, podiatrists should correlate running injuries to impact shock or excessive motion. Unfortunately, there is no clear understanding of which injuries are primarily due to impact and which are due to excessive pronation or supination. Still, the experienced clinician has a sense of what footwear characteristics are desirable to prevent injury.
If the patient has had previous stress fractures, cushioning characteristics are preferable in shoe selection. Previous Achilles tendinopathy should dictate footwear with firm midsoles and ample heel elevation. There may be a current injury that will dictate a specific shoe requirement. Hallux rigidus will require a shoe with a stiff sole. Plantar heel pain syndrome will require a shoe with torsion stability. Patellofemoral pain syndrome is usually associated with excessive pronation although multiple other factors are also involved. Pronation control features in a running shoe include firm heel counters and medial posting of the midsole.

How To Facilitate Appropriate Shoe Fitting And Measurement Of The Foot

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