Getting the Best Fit

By , SparkPeople Blogger
This is part 2 in a series about choosing the best shoe for your selected activity. As mentioned in my earlier blog, If the Shoe Fits, the best shoe for you may not be the shoe your best friend wears or even the same shoe you have worn for years.

Shoe manufactures are well-known for releasing new models each year, therefore discontinuing previous shoe models. Most manufacturers do so in December, while others wait until the spring. But know that when a new shoe is released many times there is a slight modification to the shoe's construction that can cause a shift in the way the shoe fits for you. So don't assume just because you have worn the same shoe that these changes will not affect your running or walking gait. This is why most experts recommend a yearly refitting.

However, it is very important to arrive to the store with a few pointers under your belt. Below is a list I comprised which may help you get a better fit.

  • If you can, go at the end of the day to get fitted. Because you have been on your feet most of the day, your feet are more swollen than they were first thing in the morning. I have even been known to get fitted after a nice run.

  • Bring the socks you plan to wear with your shoes. If you bring in a thin sock to try on shoes, but you plan to wear a thicker wicking sock during your activity, you may find that the shoe may be too snug when exercising. And if you haven't given socks much thought, this is the time to do so. Wicking socks pull moisture away from the feet, consequently reducing the risk of blisters. While they are on the pricey side, I have found them to be essential for those whose feet sweat profusely. Whatever you do, avoid wearing cotton socks during your activity as this allows the sweat to sit against the skin which can lead to blisters.

  • Make sure the shoe is comfortable in the store. If the shoe does not feel 'just right' in the store, try on another shoe. Shoes do not need a breaking in period, per se, so keep shopping. When I first started running I tried on well over 10 pairs of shoes before I found the one for me.

  • Consider a different way of lacing your shoe If you find a shoe that fits well but is still a little snug across the forefoot or too loose in the heal, know that there are many different lacing techniques that your sales person should be able to show you. Because I have wide feet and narrow heals, I have been using a lacing technique that allows for great forefoot expansion while allowing the shoe's collar to be drawn more snuggly.

  • Ask about the return/exchange policy at the store. Exchange and return policies vary between stores. Some stores will not accept returns if the shoe is shown to be worn or if the return period is greater than 30 days. Many stores will offer an exchange but be sure to ask.

  • Breaking in a shoe, well sort of. As mentioned earlier, shoes should not need a breaking in period per se, but most experts recommend wearing your new shoes around the house for a couple hours a day for a few days. The reason, the heat from your foot allows the inner sole to mold to your foot therefore allowing for better comfort when you do take them out for a walk/run.

  • Don't wear your new shoes for your longest run or walk until you have worn them for a few shorter runs/walks first. You will want to allow time to transition into your new shoes, even if they are the same make and model you have worn before. I have been known to wear my new shoes for the first 2-3 miles of my long run and then transitioning back into my older pair. This is one reason why you do not want to wait before your old shoes completely wear out before you get fitted for your new ones. And never wear new shoes for a race without wearing them for a few weeks.

  • Write the date on the insole of your shoe. If you decide these are the shoes for you and you do not plan to return them for any reason, writing the date on the bottom of the shoe will remind you when started wearing your shoe so that you can keep track of the mileage and time.

  • Replacing shoes. Most shoes will start breaking down between 300-500 miles, but this time frame can vary among shoe manufactures. If you begin to experience new aches/pains and you have not altered your training, this may mean it's time for new shoes, even if you are well short of the mileage mentioned above.

    Purchasing the best shoe for your dollar is something I think we all strive to do. Wearing the proper socks and being fitted when you have time to sort through all the different makes and models should help you get the best shoe for your foot and activity.

    Have you been fitted for shoes at a local running specialty store? What was your experience? Do you consider socks and timing to be important factors when being fitted for shoes?

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    DEE107 4/20/2021
    thanks Report
    LIS193 10/14/2020
    Good information Report
    CHERYLHURT 10/5/2020
    Thanks Report
    _CYNDY55_ 8/10/2020
    Thanks Report
    Thanks for the great article! :) Report
    This article and If The Shoe Fits were very helpful and timely. Since I stepped up my walking a year ago, my shoe needs have changed. I have plantar fasciitis plus a seriously narrow heel, so any shoes are a challenge. Report
    Hi Nancy. I'm going to try your alternate lacing techniques, but hope there if there is anther suggestion from you (or anyone else out there experiencing this) that I could also try that. Several months I was walking in a comfortable cross training sneaker with an over-the-counter soft insole to give extra cushioning to the heel and forefoot. Incredibly comfortable and allowed me to progress from walking to jogging over time. Realized it was time for running shoes, so tried Nike from a sporting good store and the heel was too loose....blisters. Went to the local running store and got fitted for Saucony brand running shoes and tried my first easy 2 mile run, and noticed forefoot (nerve type) pain at the end of my run. Loosened laces, no help. Went back to old shoes/painfree. Now I have spent 150 dollars or more and still need help. Running store will not take back or exchange shoes at this point (exchanged once for the same reason). Any suggestions? I noticed another comment that mentioned Asics for wide forefoot, narrow heel, and high arches, which describes my foot, and she also had nerve pain in the forefoot. What do you think? Report
    I've had the same sneakers for so many years, I don't even remember where I purchased them! Now I look at my one year old grandson and he usually lasts in a pair of shoes/sandals/sneakers about 2-3 weeks where he's growing so fast. And they're really expensive too!!! This blog has made me decided to get some new sneakers!!!! Report
    Once while growing up my Mom bought me a pair of Buster Brown shoes. 3 months later we took them back because the side of the shoe had busted open. Thank God the man gave us a pair of new shoes because when measuring me he discovered that I had grown 3 sizes in that 3 months. I thought that was nice of the man and the shoes were expensive back then and my Mom really couldn't afford a new pair. Report
    This article saved me. Shoes were the answer to my night leg cramps. Was fitted on Monday wore them for 4 hours around the house on Tuesday. Since I'm still in training to try a 5K and only running 2 miles at this point. I ran in them yesterday. Last night I only had cramps 1 time as opposed to every 2 hours. Went to store called Run On. Salesman was a marathon runner and had lots of good points like I've read here. Thanks Nancy! Report
    My feet seemed to always hurt, even in the mornings when I'd been off them for the entire evening/night. Then I got Good Feet arch supports ( ) and what a difference that made in my feet and legs! I transfer them to any shoe I'm wearing, even sandals, and I now can hardly be without them. I'm totally sold on them and even work two days a week at our local Good Feet store! I also purchased Spira shoes and now, between the two, I really enjoy walking! Report
    Great article. Sometimes it feels like a challenge to get any shoe right. But since I've been running and working out a lot, my feet are really confused. Thanks for the lace link. Will spend some time figuring out which one works best for me. Report
    Roadrunner= THE BEST place to get fitted for shoes!!!!!!!!!!! Report
    Very useful information - I got fitted yesterday for the first time after reading this and found out I'm not actually a size 10.5... but a 9.5 EE. Always had to go up because of my wide feet so they'd fit - now with a correctly placed arch, I hope my feet are a lot happier! Report
    Yes, I have been fitted at a specialty store. However, I have a narrow heel and a wide toe box, so the lacing technique videos are great! Thanks for the link. I'll be relacing my shoes tonight.

    I don't run very far yet (I am a walker, converting to running by jogging at short intervals). I have been using a cross-trainer, mostly because my winter workout was on an elliptical, and I didn't change my shoe when summer arrived and I started my daily walks. My husband notices backaches when his sneakers get worn out, even though the sneakers don't LOOK worn out. I try to encourage him to get new sneakers every 3-6 months, and I do the same; I have done this for years. I notice shin splints and leg aches when I go too long in the same pair of sneakers. I have not had a problem with blisters for years, since I found how well New Balance brand fits my foot. So I don't think I'll be changing my sock choice.

    Just a little humor: before gastric bypass surgery (11/2007), I had problems buying shoes when I weighed 400 pounds. Nothing fit comfortably, and my feet were size 9 wide. Since losing 245 pounds, my shoe size has dropped to a size 8 wide. Who knew that losing weight meant not only dropping dress sizes, but also shoe sizes!! Report
    My last pair of shoes were "spendy" but well worth it. I was forever getting terrible blisters on the back of my heels with my cheaper ones. Very helpful article --gained a few more good tips! Report
    Very informative article...loved the lacing link. Report
    Loved the lacing techniques link. Report
    I am looking forward to seeing if the tips fit my feet!!! Report
    great blog - I've been jogging since I was 11 but never heard of the tip of writing the date on the shoe - will start doing that from now on (I'm an engineer - love the details) I also like the Logrun and Sport Tracks - will check them out. I do use my GPS trainer now so that helps somewhat. Except I have about 3 pairs that I rotate amongst - gets a bit tricky

    I really needed this information as I'm having to buy new shoes after foot surgery. Thank you for all the help! Report
    Didn't think about it b4, but I think this is a great post and the techniques to lace the running shoes are very helpful. Report
    This was a great entry. I get blisters EVERY time I run. I have 3 pairs of running shoes and it has happened with them all I never thought to look at the kind of socks I run in. It could definitely be a sweating thing. Thanks. Report
    WOW, Nancy - thanks! Even for us non-runners who sport running shoes for orthopedic reasons, the lacing techniques link is a valuable eye-opener! I've got badly pronated tootsies with a wide toe-box and narrow heels, too - gotta try these hints! Report
    I have very skinny feet, and getting the right fit in a tennis shoe is always a challenge. My heel is more narrow than the width of my foot, and this shoe lace technique with the loops is a GODSEND. Just tried it this weekend. I'm SO glad I saw this article. I wish I'd known this before. I could have saved myself a bunch of trouble. :) Report
    Yeah, I was fitted for a new pair of shoes at the local running store and found out the hard way not to do your long run right away in them. I was training for a marathon in April and did 17 miles soon after buying them. I ended up with achilles tendonitis which was extremely painful and threw off my training in a major way. I limped for weeks and spent all kinds of money on Biofreeze, wraps, and the podiatrist. Learn from my mistake, people! ;) Report
    I just took up running this spring and have been running in a pair of shox which I was told weren't good for you. I had actually planned on going this week and getting fitted and investing in a pair of good running shoes. And great timing because my local running store is having a big sale with 20% off and some shoes even cheaper than that this week! This is great advice to have right before I go! Report
    so very interesting, thanks! Report
    The blog entry suggests writing the initial use date on the insole - someone who taught a clinic I attended suggested writing the date on the shoe box. Of course if you don't save the box, this won't help much! :^)

    When I started running again this year, I was wearing "cross trainers" that I'd purchased at Target. I thought "cross trainer" meant usable for lots of exercises, but then a serious runner told me that they're primarily intended for use on cardio machines. They don't provide the support needed for running. Has anybody else heard this? I did end up developing foot pain that went away once I bought proper running shoes at a locally owned running store, with a trained fitter. I only wish I'd done it a few weeks earlier! Report
    I love my running soes, I used them for walking, running, and softball-Rabbit Report
    When I am walking, I take time to select both the correct shoe and sock. But when I run, the shoes and socks come off. The first time I did it, I immediately noticed that my foot strikes the ground very differently. I also had sore feet, not so much from the tenderness of the skin (although that was an initial issue) but the muscles in my foot were sore. That has gone away as well as the achilles tendonitis and the shin splints. I know it is different, but I will avoid shoes as much as I can in the future. And if I have to wear shoes, I look for those with a really thin sole. Report
    I always walk to break in my new shoes for at least a week before I will even try running in them. I have had my shares of blister and achy feet so lessons well learned. Report
    It is SO time for a new pair of shoes... I just started getting foot pain this last week, and the light bulb went on & I thought- 'oh, yeah, I've put about 1200 hours of movement in this pair. Duh. Next check, off I go to buy a new pair.
    My foot tends to roll out a bit, and I get corns if I don't have the right fit.
    Good article, thanks! Report
    AMEN! This article is sooo true. It took me years to understand this concept. After I finally got a shin split and noticed the difference in new shoes after I was healed, I have been more aware of my running and training shoes.

    I used to train aerobic and high impact step classes and I noticed wearing the appropriate shoe type makes all the difference in the world. Believe me...there's a difference between a running, walking, dancing, aerobic, and cross training shoes. Again, this was another a valued lesson learned.

    So, PLEASE listen to your body and keep giving it the proper nutrition, but don't forget to DRESS it with care. Report
    I found this really helpful, thanks. I have experienced buying the same shoe and it has not fitted so well as before. I will also make sure to have my feet measured in future. :-) Report
    I highly recommend getting fitted for shoes at a running store. The salespeople are highly trained and very knowledgeable about posture, foot placement and shape, and all the makes of shoes they carry. In my experience the employees at the big chain fitness store don't usually know nearly as much - but if they do, great!

    Shoes are usually a little more expensive at smaller local stores, but to me the perfect fit is more than worth it. I like my current running shoes very much and plan to look for the same model cheaper online so that I don't have to pay that extra amount every time. Also, shoe models are revamped every year, so if you like a certain one, you can usually find it on clearance in the spring, online or at larger stores and pick up an extra pair or two for cheap. Next year's model will likely be very similar, so if you can't find your favorite when you go back to the store, tell them the model you used to have, and the salespeople will usually find you the updated version that is nearly the same. Report
    I have been wearing my first pair of walking shoes for close to a yer. A few weeks ago I started having some pains in my feet and the Dr didn't know why. I have, since, decided that it was my walking shoes. They still look like they are in great shape but I noticed my foot position is a little different. This article is perfect timing because I had planned to go sneaker shopping on Tuesday and now I know some tricks to get the best shoe. And I will be replacing my shoes more often. Report
    Thanks Nancy,
    I am under a doctor's care she checks blood every three months. But I should probabaly get shoe's and leave off the supplement. It's worth a try because I love jogging. Thanks to everyone for all the good advice. Report
    Great article! I have always gone for better shoes. I've have so much problems with my feet that I would pay any price for shoes to walk pain free. I've always had great sales people at the sporting stores to help with choosing the right shoe. Thanks for the additional info from all users...very informative. Report
    The most annoying thing is that just when you find a shoe that fits you well and suits your activity, the manufacturer discontinues that model. I buy shoes approx. every 3 months for the variety of exercise classes that I do. I find a running shoe is the most all-around and Nike Air Zoom protects the bottoms of my feet during plyometrics and boxing. My feet are narrow though the fronts are wider now with age but the backs are quad A so it's not an easy task to get a good fit AND a shoe with lots of bottom of the foot cushioning. I tried New Balance but found they were like walking on bricks and that their double A's are not really narrow. Report
    I HAVE been fitted at a specialty fitness shoe store (the name is that of a company that makes a specific brand of shoes) and they were the worst shoes I've had as far as pain goes. Although the fitters were supposed to be "specially trained," they disagreed with the advice from the two podiatrists I had seen concerning what shoes I should wear, and thought I should stop wearing my custom-made orthotics while I exercised. I had had the orthotics made so I could exercise. I told my current podiatrist of my experiences and she said she did not like the store for the reasons I have mentioned.

    I agree with MrsHoneyC, not all the fitters in these stores know what they are doing -- most of these I have encountered needed a job and may have had minimal training in what exercisers need.

    Some stores may have excellent, knowledgeable fitters. But make sure you know the return policy, and if the fitters insist on shoes that you don't think are right for you, don't assume that they know what's best for you. Report
    yes i have gone to a speciality running store just for running/walking shoes. the sales girl was wonderful. The first time I went I had a hard time finding a ladies running shoe that would work. Found one that I did like but the back of the shoe felt like it wanted to slip even with relacing the shoes. The sales girl went back and pulled a mans shoe and that worked perfectly! And I always wear wicking socks. I generally buy the new shoes about 2 months before the event I want to do. Report
    Thanks. This was a timely article for me. It's time to get my second pair of walking shoes for the Breast Cancer 3-Day in October. I went to Potomac River Running (Reston, VA) for my first pair, and they were very knowledgeable and helpful. I am blister-free, and my New Balance shoes have been so comfortable from the very beginning. I have walked 397 miles in these shoes since May. Report
    This is awsome info. I was just talking with my PT last week about not knowing much about buying a show for my new fitness routine. I need a pair for land and water since I do water aerobics and walking Spud the Pug in the evening. This article gives me a great starting point. Report
    I knew about the shoes, but never knew about the socks. Now I guess I'd better get to the store, not just for myself, but for the husband. Thanks. Report
    This is one of the best articles I've read on fitting sneakers. It bears out my experiences exactly. An old basketball coach taught me the trick to tie my shoes for wide feet and narrow heels and it makes a world of difference. I don't kick rocks in my heels anymore. I just recently learned not to wear cotton socks and my new sports socks really work great to prevent blisters. For a new walker/runner, this article is primo advice. Report
    dang, I never thought to look at the back of the bag of socks that I buy. Sure enough, they are cotton. off to the store... Report
    I am a true believer in the importance of being properly fitted for my shoes, moisture wicking socks, and time of day for shopping. I learned them all first-hand when I was training for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day a few years ago. I walked 1,000 miles that year, and had zero problems with blisters! Report
    Great Article! Finding the right pair makes all the difference in the world! I work retail, and I have 3 pairs that I switch between every day. Still, there is no greater feeling than coming home at the end of the day and getting to go barefoot!

    Abs Report
    The right socks are as important as the right shoes. The first thing I do is turn over the package and read the content percentages. A lot of stores label socks as sport socks that are mostly cotton. While holding on to shoes while you wear out another pair is not a good idea, buying more than one pair is a great idea. Running (or walking) shoes last longer if they get to dry out thoroughly between uses, so if you're running or walking every day, or nearly so, you should have more than one pair at a time. For those who have wear issues that aren't bad enough to need custom made orthotics, Superfeet are a wonderful thing. I pronate and have Superfeet in every pair of shoes I own, including dress shoes.

    The only other thing that I'd point out is that its not just the shoes that change. Our feet change over time, especially if we spend a lot of time on them. This is even more true if we're gaining or losing weight. When I worked in retail my shoe size went up a full size because I was on my feet more than 40 hrs per week. Now that I have a desk job and have lost some weight, I don't necessarily need wide sizes anymore, but I'm never getting back into anything below an 8.5. Report