Whether you're an avid runner or someone who only hits the pavement on occasion, finding the best running shoe for your foot structure and stride is crucial — especially when it comes to more mature athletes.
“As we age, we tend to accumulate more range of motion limitations and a potential reduction in strength and stability, so finding a shoe that accommodates your foot structure and provides support and shock absorption where needed becomes vital," Alison McGinnis, a senior physical therapist at Finish Line Physical Therapy, tells Woman's World. "Older runners don’t necessarily need to pick a different shoe than younger runners, but they do need to care about getting into the right running shoe for them more than younger runners do,”
Finding shoes that fit properly and comfortably are key to staying healthy while running for women over 50. But, as with most purchases, what’s right for you might not be right for someone else.
How To Find the Best Running Shoe
Although there aren’t specific shoe recommendations for mature runners, there are certain guidelines you can follow to help you find your perfect match.
“The most important thing for a runner of any age to consider when choosing a running shoe is the fit," McGinnis says. "None of the bells and whistles will matter if the shoe doesn’t fit in all the right places.”
She also noted that “the best time of day to try on running shoes is at the end of the day or after a run, when you’re feet are at their biggest."
This is important, since the tip of the shoe should be a thumb’s width longer than the length of your toes when standing. (Have a trusted companion measure this for you, since your foot will shift in the shoe if you bend down to check.)
Another important aspect of a running shoe for older women is the toe box. It should be wide enough to accommodate the ball of your foot — as well as your toes — without compressing them inwards. In other words, the toe box shouldn’t feel uncomfortably tight around the ball of your foot.
When it comes to shape, the silhouette of the shoe should match the silhouette of your foot. To check, you can try removing the insole of your shoe and then standing on it. “If any part of your foot is spilling over the sides, or the shape doesn’t match the shape of your foot, move on to another pair,” suggests McGinnis.
After you've got the fit just right, features such as cushioning, heel drop, arch support, and firmness can be taken into consideration.
Firmer shoes, for instance, are typically recommended by experts for running, particularly when it comes to the toes. McGinnis recommends finding a shoe with a toe box that is “flat and not curling upwards. When the shoe is designed with this feature, it places a constant stretch through your plantar fascia and Achilles and can lead to problems in the future," she explains.
With so many factors to consider, it can be beneficial to consult a professional, whether it be a running shoe store associated, a specialist, or a physical therapist, who can give you specific recommendations based on your foot type. “Make sure someone is well-versed and has a reputation for treating runners or for [recommending running shoes]," Dr. Neal Blitz, DPM, aka “The Bunion King” of New York, tells Woman's World. Foot specialists that specialize in running or in sports are very well equipped. ... And a foot specialist generally has a very solid understanding of biomechanics that can identify the proper shoe for you."
Running Shoes and Bunions
While bunions can occur at any age, most people experience more problems with this condition as they age, with women in particular experiencing more complications than men as a result of wearing tight shoes and high heels. If you’re an older runner with bunions, there are some additional factors to consider when embarking on a search for proper running shoes.
As Dr. Blitz explains, bunions are the result of "a metatarsal bone that gets shifted out of its normal position."
Blitz says that when this occurs, "the big toe gets pushed over towards the smaller toes — the joint pops out underneath the skin. ... It’s a misalignment of the joint. And it creates a bio-mechanical catastrophe for the foot.”
Complications associated with bunions can range from swelling and pain at the ball of the foot and arch to more serious issues, such as arthritis, hammer toe, and ultimately, stress fractures.
Needless to say, finding a running shoe that stabilizes the foot and helps prevents this condition from getting worse or recurring for those who have had bunion surgery, is of the utmost importance.
Dr. Blitz shared several key features women with bunions should look for in a running shoe.
First, you must make sure your shoe provides enough room for the bunion. The fit of the shoe shouldn’t be too tight or constricting, since inflammation and sores/cuts can form as a result, he warns. Look to buy a wider shoe or find a shoe with netting or mesh toe box that provides the least compression over the top of the foot.
Second, Dr. Blitz recommends that patients "find a shoe that is not too flexible." A running shoe should break at the ball of the foot," he says. "That will help with some of the instability that the bunion creates.”
Steering clear of flimsy shoes is especially important when it comes to the outside of the heel, since the formation of a bunion can collapse your arch enough to the point that it affects this area, according to Dr. Blitz. Ample support on the outside of the heel can counteract the collapse of the arch.
Those that are having trouble finding and fitting into shoes as a result of their bunions may want to consider bunion surgery, Dr. Blitz suggests. This is also true for those with limitations in the big toe joint, or secondary problems, such as pain on the outside of the foot. His minimally invasive Bunionplasty procedure sees patients walking immediately after, with some back in their running shoes just 12 weeks post-op.
The Best Running Shoes for Women Over 50
Now that you're armed with expert advice about what to look for in a sneaker, it's time to start shopping. Whether you're looking for a mesh running shoe with extra give at the toe or are need a little extra heel cushioning, we've got you covered. Keep reading for Woman's World's picks for best running shoes for women over 50.
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