This is a question I get asked every day as a gait/injury/footwear analyst and honestly I can understand why! Since being in the industry over 1 1years now (blimey I feel old), I have seen so much information saying how footwear should fit, do you just add a size to your current normal footwear or not? Does it matter how tight the shoe is on the foot? In this post I’ll discuss the above and give some thoughts on how I think a shoe should generally fit to be fit for running purposes!
To begin, running trainers should always, in my professional opinion, be fitted through a gait analysis. Why? Because a shoe, in essence, is protecting your body from (4x the body weight in) impact every stride should be doing so in the correct way to compliment your biomechanics! So if your know your gait style and shoes that work, the big question is what size do you go for?!
Heres the thing, when fitting shoes I pretty much ignore the number on the box. I couldn’t care if it’s 2 whole sizes bigger than your normal shoe size(based on the number). So many brands shoe sizes vary you could be a 7 in one brand and an 8 in another but they still fit the same. Don’t get stuck on the number!! This is why I fit a shoe on three key principals:
1. When heel is in the back of the shoe and the person is standing, there should be between a finger or thumbs width space at the end. (Why? Over time whilst running, toes can engage/disengage to help propel the foot. If those toes are too close to the end-see you later toenails!)
2. That the forefoot has enough width but that the midfoot is well held, like a handshake. Again this is very subjective but forefoot width is always encouraged. This is because as the foot shock absorbs as it makes contact with the ground, it splays and widens. Shoes that are too narrow can affect the natural functionality of the foot and inadvertently lead to injury. Through the mid-foot we have nerves that run to the toes! If these are too tight and compress numbing of the foot can occur, so as stated tie laces tight but not constrictively.
3. The heel should be nicely held in the back of the shoe once laced. People again prefer different things but having a great lock down through the ankle and midfoot should make big differences in comfort. A classic problem, especially for women, is heel slip due to narrow ankles/Achilles. Below are two lacing techniques which can help with this!
So there you have it 3 key ways to ensure your shoe is fit for running (distance) and fitting you correctly. Obviously, I must throw it out there that everyone is different. I have fitted people who have no room at the end of there toes but have run ultra marathons with no issues. But, I have also had people that LOVE space at the end of their shoe and wear it with two thumbs width of space at the end and also have no problems . EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. There may also be a fit of shoe which is more tight and snug for the shorter races from a performance perspective. (Again there is variance, im not saying my word is gospel). So use my three pointers as a guide and see what works for you ☺️