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Running shoe shopping with your feet in mind

A painful blister can completely sideline your running progress, in fact blisters can even interrupt the careers of top athletes. While they aren’t as serious as breaks and sprains, blisters shouldn’t be ignored as they can affect your concentration and performance. The best practice for any athlete is to avoid getting blisters in the first place and your choice of shoe is where the prevention starts.

When you run, your foot hits the ground pretty much the same way with each step causing your skin to rub against your shoes or socks repetitively in the same spots. Poorly fitting shoes that are either too tight or too big will increase the rubbing, and that’s the friction that causes blisters. Running shoes are designed to prevent blisters and injuries from that repetitive motion by offering specific cushioning to aid in shock absorption.

What to Look For in Running Shoes

The ideal running shoe should suit the type of running you do and the shape of your foot. When shopping for running shoes, tell the salesperson about your running routine, i.e. how long you’ve been running; what type of environment you run in; and about any foot issues you may have. Some running shoes are designed for the pavement as they are light, flexible and cushion the feet during repetitive strides on hard, even surfaces. Some shoes are designed for off-road routes with rocks, mud or other obstacles. These shoes offer more ankle stability and support for uneven surfaces.

Once you’ve narrowed down the type of shoe you’ll need, it’s time for the fitting. Feet tend to swell a bit by the end of the day, similar to how they spread when you run, so we recommend that you try on shoes in the later part of the day for a more accurate fit.

Make sure you have enough room in the toe. There should be roughly one thumb width between the end of your foot and the end of the shoe. Your foot should be centered on the shoe platform with the shoe wrapped comfortably around your foot, not tight and not sloppy.

After you found a good fitting pair, try them out. Run on a treadmill or do a few laps around the store to make sure there’s no irritation or slipping in the heel – which could lead to blisters. Also ask at the shop about good running socks – they can make a big difference. Once you’ve found your perfect running shoes, it’s important that you use them just for running.

Should I Run with Blisters?

No matter whether you’re running solo or competing in a team sport, when you’re breaking in new shoes, try to have a spare pair on hand. If you feel the hint of a blister coming on, stop and switch shoes immediately. If that isn’t practical, reach for a Compeed blister plaster from your sports bag. That way your run or game won’t be interrupted, and you won’t be letting yourself or your team down. One last rule to prevent blisters – sweaty feet can also create the friction that leads to blisters, so it’s important to keep your feet dry. For this we recommend that you use foot powder and change your socks regularly.