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When it comes to running, our feet are one of the most important parts. Not only are they active in the push off and landing part of a run but they are also responsible for other parts of our body and its functions.

We simply can not take for granted the importance of our feet and their priority when it comes to foot pain and injuries.

Some of the most common injuries that occur due to running are due to the impact our feet take upon landing and the force we use with pushing off. For example, if your foot is too stiff to bear the impact, a tibial stress fracture could result. And if your foot is too unstable to land in a controlled manner, you could develop runner’s knee.

Other issues with our feet include plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, flat feet, blisters, black toenails, and pinched nerves between the toes.

There are three general categories when it comes to the kind of feet we have: neutral pronation (normal arch), under pronation or supination (low arch or flat feet), over pronation (very high arch).

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One of the best ways to combat foot problems is to have the proper running shoe. Here are several conditions that require a certain type of shoe for running:

  1. Stability – Flat-footed harriers tend to gravitate to a higher stability shoe, as they help prevent overpronation. Neutral runners can often run in many types of footwear, but most commonly go for a moderate stability shoe. Runners with high arches are best suited for a cushioned shoe, providing midsole padding with flexibility.
  2. Size – Most runners need to go up a half size from their street shoes, allowing for one-fourth to a half inch of wiggle room in the toebox. While you want to be able to move your toes around, be sure your heel is snug and secure, avoiding any unnecessary slippage.
  3. Feel – Running shoes should literally feel like a part of your foot, working in concert with your natural foot shape and biomechanics.

Dan Shade, from Fleet Feet in San Francisco, notes that they work closely with podiatrists, physical therapists and sports chiropractors to refer customers that are having issues with running. By providing a visual analysis of a customer’s foot strike, running stores can often evaluate their gate and help them find the right shoe. The goal is to correct any overpronation, help with shock absorption for supinators or compliment their foot strike if the customer has a neutral foot strike.

The best shoes for overpronation include: Nike, Asics, Saucony and New Balance.

The best shoes for shock absorption include: Adidas, Asics, and Mizuno.

The best shoes for underpronation or supination include: Asics, New Balance, Brooks and Saucony.

The best shoes for heel strikers include: Adidas, Mizuno, and Brooks.

The best shoes for shin splints include: Asics, New Balance, and Mizuno

One of the best ways a runner can take care of their feet is by replacing running shoes between every 350-550 miles. This range of mileage is also affected by how much the runner weighs, running style and the primary surface that the runner runs on. For those runners that don’t log their mileage, it is a good rule of thumb to replace your shoes every 6 months if you are running 5 miles per day, 3-4 times per week.

Our feet are so very important to the rest of our body. There are millions of touch receptors, that are stimulated each time they make contact with ground when we run, therefore we need to treat them with the utmost care. After all, they’re the only ones you’ve got!