Buy running shoes online? rather not

Igor Emmerichfake images

Suppose you want to start running. The first thing you need are some sneakers. After a few clicks of the mouse, the delivery man will be at your door tomorrow. Practical, order online? Physiotherapist and podiatrist Ronald Dercksen advises you to choose sports shoes in the store. He has these reasons for it.

Buy running shoes online

“I see a lot of novice runners with aches and pains in my practice who bought shoes through a website. I understand that. When you start running, you may want to try it out first to see if you like it and not pay the hefty price right away. But on a website you can only rely on photos, possible reviews and the manufacturer’s sales pitch. That is insufficient information.

One size too small

What’s wrong with those shoes from online stores? ‘A lot of beginners who come to me with complaints end up training in shoes that are too tight. As you run, your feet swell and due to the shock your feet absorb, they elongate a bit. Also, sports shoes are sometimes a bit small.’

‘Therefore, you should buy sports shoes on the roomy side. One and a half sizes larger than your everyday shoes is a good guide, but it’s especially important to try them on and try on several styles. That’s much more convenient in a real store.

store perks

A functioning specialty store filled with brilliant models may seem quite impressive to you. Still, it’s worth overcoming your doubts and getting advice. ‘There are many variants in a store, so it is logical that you don’t see the wood for the trees. In a good case, they will ask you how far you are walking now and what your plans are. They want to know if you are going to run mainly on asphalt, in the woods or on the running track. Your body weight is also a factor to consider. The perfect shoe for a heavy runner may not be suitable for a light one.’

Usefulness of a gait analysis

They can also perform a gait analysis at running specialty stores. She often walks from one side of the store to the other several times, while her legs and feet are filmed. What is the use of that? “With such a gait analysis, a salesperson gets an impression of his running style and what type of shoe suits him.”

‘Previously they looked at whether you had too much or too little pronation. If his ankle rolls too far inward on landing, he was advised to wear shoes with an anti-pronation block. I realize those blocks are removed from most shoe brands, nowadays you mainly have a choice of sturdy and less sturdy models. But such gait analysis can still be a useful part of the whole counseling process.’

On what basis do you choose?

‘Based on your information and a possible analysis of the march, the employee will present you with about four or five models. Put them up whenever you want and run around the store (or outside, if you can). Are they too narrow or too wide? Can you hear yourself fall with heavy blows or can you barely hear your footsteps?’

‘Choose the shoe that fits you best, which is ultimately the most important thing, but preferably decide in consultation with the seller. For example, a feather-light shoe might feel wonderful, but if you’re a bit heavier or always walk on asphalt, it might not be a good choice.’

The more expensive the better?

The prices of athletic shoes vary enormously. The question is whether the most expensive are also the best. ‘I see people passing by who think they will never get injured again because they bought such expensive shoes. Unfortunately, that is not how it works.

“The price says something about the quality: you take a risk, especially with very cheap shoes. Sometimes they provide the support of a slipper, often they are too soft or offer no cushioning at all. But you can also injure yourself with expensive shoes. If you don’t want to invest in expensive shoes right away, I’d stick with seven or eight ten, for that amount you can find decent shoes. If you know you have foot problems, then it might be a good idea to spend a little more.

Injury prevention

“People often get injured in the first three months after they start running. The most common complaints are sore shins and sore knees, which are your body’s shock absorbers, so to speak. Your shoes will absorb some of the shock, but not all of it.

“Beginners often have to deal with injuries because they literally run too fast, especially if their physical condition is already good. Your tendons and joints really need time to get used to the stress that running brings. Therefore, I advise you to be patient and build your training slowly. Try to walk more often on unpaved surfaces, such as in the woods. Learning good running technique also helps reduce the risk of injury.

Ronald Dercksen is a physical therapist and podiatrist who specializes in running injuries and an avid runner with over 35 years of experience.

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