Buying running shoes

Foot pain can be prevented with the right running shoes.

Buying running shoes recommends spending time purchasing the right pair rather than a lot more consulting your chiropractor, podiatrist and orthopaedic surgeon for sore feet.

To walk or run, you need a decent pair of shoes; ones that fit nicely and aren't going to give you foot and ankle pain. Exercise is about improving your health, after all, not about increased visits to your chiropractor.

Does one size fit all when buying shoes? Nope, I'm afraid not; nor one brand.

Does one brand fit all when buying walking shoes? Unlikely.

Take your time when buying running shoes. Set aside a whole morning, and be pleased if you can do it in under two hours. Why? Because it's important, and many of the foot pain patients treated at the chiropractic coalface are simply a matter of getting them out of poorly fitting sneakers.

Did you know that right and left shoes only became available for the first time about one hundred years ago? Before that your foot had to fit the shoe, not vice versa. But now you have the choice, if you'll take the time. Otherwise, pain is going to be your lot.

Make sure they are snug but not too tight. Not too loose either, or you'll get blisters.

Buying running shoes

Buying running shoes suggests that you take your time and do it properly; otherwise it's going to cost you a lot of money, not mention the foot pain, plantar myofascitis and heel spurs.

Here are a few of my tips for buying shoes.

Rule 1: If when buying shoes they aren't immediately comfortable, discard them. Don't believe the rubbish about they will stretch, and you'll wear them in. That's just nonsense. If they aren't immediately comfortable, move on to the next pair, and maybe the next shop. Yes, it will take time to buy a decent, properly fitting pair of shoes that are not going to give you umpteen visits to the chiropractor or podiatrist. Or worse still, the orthopaedic surgeon, the man with the knife.

Rule 2: You find two or three shoes that are equally comfortable, or nearly equal, and your're having a hard time choosing. Put Shoe 1 on the right foot, and Shoe 2 on the left foot. Walk about, run, and jump; which is more comfortable? Now put Shoe 1 on the left foot, and Shoe 2 on the right foot. Again, walk, jump, and bounce; which is better? Hopefully your right and left foot agree which pair of shoes are more suited to your feet. Now repeat with Shoe 3.

Rule 3: Still in doubt? Spend the time, be patient, move on to the next store. You can always come back.

Rule 4: Finally, found the right pair? Run in them for a week or three, and if you're still convinced, go back to the shop and buy another pair and put them away. Try them on first, again, of course. Shoes manufactured on a Monday aren't always precisely the same as those made on Friday!

You've just saved yourself 2 to 5 hours of time, because that's what it will take next year to find another comfortable pair of shoes. Unless you're one of that strange breed who love to shop 'til they drop. A very strange breed!

The long and the short of buying shoes is to take your time, it's worth it. Don't have the time? Don't go shopping until you do.

Minimal running shoes

Minimal running shoes reduce loading rates.

Research at the University of Exeter has found that those using minimal running shoes, and land on the forefoot rather than the heel, had significantly lower instantaneous loading rates.

With 75% of runners experiencing an injury every year, this could make a real difference.

However, when running in the standard shoe, there was no difference in the loading, whether landing on the heel or forefoot.

Says leading researcher, Dr Hannah Rice, running in minimal shoes and landing on the balls of your feet reduces loading rates. Further research needs to be done to determine if the risks associated with running are reduced. Read more at influence of footwear and foot strike on load rates during running.


Metatarsalgia comes often after wearing bad running shoes.

Plantar myofascitis

Buy the right running shoes to prevent plantar myofascitis.

Plantar myofascitis often is the result of fixated joint in the ankle or foot, but it can be elsewhere too; buying running shoes that suit your feet is vital.

Just this morning I had a new patient complaining of dorsum of the foot pain, and tightness under the foot. Yes, the calcaneus was fixated restricting supination but, on further examination, he clearly has femoro acetabular impingement syndrome in the opposite hip. That's structural and I suspect the cause of his plantar myofascitis, rather than vice versa.

Mixed FAIS in a 35 year old runner will cause hip pain with the wrong shoes.

There are signs of both a pincer and CAM deformity, and even a very small cyst; more significant as far as his plantar myofascitis is concerned is the quite severe loss of internal hip rotation; that has a marked knock on effect on the gait, and hence a likely cause of foot pain.

Standard footwear might well not suit him and taking time whilst buying running shoes would be a good investment; even if it takes a whole morning.

If you don't spend the time buying running shoes then you'll become prone to the various conditions of the foot and ankle that many chiropractors are busy with day in and out; not forgetting the knock on effect on your knees, hips and lower back.

Running shoes also attempt to maintain the normal pronation and supination or rolling action of the ankle. There's nothing so good as running barefoot but that's not practical obviously.

But if you are running on a grassy sports field, for heaven's sake take your shoes off. There's lot's of research proving that people who don't or rarely use footwear have far less problems with the feet and ankles.

Plantar myofascitis and bunions, metatarsalgia and foot pain are all directly related to taking a little extra time when buying running shoes.

There's lots of information at chiropractic help. Just use the search this site function to find it.

Metatarsalgia is particularly knotty and common problem. It starts feeling like you are walking with a pea under your forefoot. Neglect it and it will start spreading into the arch of the foot, both on top and under your foot as you start to compensate. When it starts to swell it will affect the interdigital nerves and then you're likely to get a Morton's neuroma.

Yet it responds well to chiropractic treatment of the foot and ankle provided you don't wait years. A simple set of exercises help for the pain too.

Foot pain

Foot pain is endemic in society today; often it's an old ankle sprain that was not well managed leaving subluxations of the small bones. But it can be obesity too; it doesn't just cause diabetes and high blood pressure but also foot pain, and knee arthritis. Taking time when buying running shoes is vital.

Heel spur

Heel spur is characterised by pain under the calcaneus, often severe first thing in the morning; the key is a cushion with a cut out portion, and correcting any fixations in the ankle; buying minimal running shoes with forefoot strike reduces the loading on the foot.

Heel spurs are very treatable without surgery; relaxed buying running shoes is only part of the solution.

› Buying running shoes

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.