Various members of the iRun Gear Test Team are busily trying out the latest and greatest in order to bring you their gear reviews. Since we often have testers running around in new shoes, we asked our Shoe Guy, Ryan Grant, certified pedorthist and co-owner of Solefit Orthotics, what to keep in mind when trying new shoes for the first time.
Q: When making the switch to a new pair of running shoes in the same category (i.e. neutral, stability, minimal) as your last pair, how do you recommend a runner make the transition? What about if you are changing categories?
A: If switching to a different shoe in the same support category, the adjustment period is often minimal. I always recommend walking in the new shoe for a couple hours to make sure that there are no troublesome stitches or seams. As we all know (and which can be sooooo frustrating!), even when buying the same shoe’s newer version, the fit can be slightly different. When switching to a new shoe, be aware of any new aches and pains in the weeks following, as this can be an indicator that the shoes might be the culprit. This would apply even more so when switching support categories.
Q: How about to a shoe with a different heel-to-toe offset? Is it different when you are making a small change as opposed to a large one? How would you define a small difference and a large difference (e.g. is 12mm to 8mm a big deal? What about 12mm to 4mm? 8mm to 4mm? Etc.)?
A: When switching to shoes of a different heel to toe offset, all runners will react a little differently depending on many variables. Current foot strength, flexibility, technique (among others) will all factor in to how successfully a runner will adapt to a lower heel. For someone with extremely tight calves, poor technique, and weak feet, a drop of 4mm in heel to toe differential can certainly be enough to trigger a problem. A different runner with strong feet, good flexibility, and good technique may have very little issue adapting from a 12mm drop to a 4mm or 0mm drop shoe. With all the choices available to runners, it certainly is a great time to be a runner albeit a very confusing time! If contemplating a switch to lower drop shoes, best to consult with a professional to make sure the change is right for you.