If you’ve started a new exercise routine this year, you may have already realized a few things. First, starting a new routine is easy, but keeping it is a bit harder. No big revelation there. Second, you may have noticed some things are bothering you that didn’t before you started this new routine – your feet, for instance. So, you thought those same old sneakers from two years ago would be fine to wear while running or working out? Not so much. If you’re having foot pain, it might be related to the shoes you’re wearing, and fixing it may be as simple as getting a new pair that fits both your activity and your foot.
Podiatrist Dr. David Franklin from East Tennessee Medical Group says it’s crucial to have the right shoe before starting a new routine. “It’s very important to have the right foundation under your feet for the type of exercise you’re planning to do,” he said. “For instance, if you’re running on pavement, you need shoes for that. If you’re running on trails, you’ll need a different type of shoe designed for that activity. The ‘right shoe’ is the shoe that is well-designed for your foot and for the activity you want to do. This will take some homework. I often recommend patients go to specialty shoe stores where the employees are well-versed in foot mechanics and how to ‘custom fit’ shoes based on patients’ needs,” he explained. “Sometimes, selecting the right shoe can be overwhelming as there are many options out there, so these stores can be really helpful,” he added.
As for those old sneakers, Franklin says it may be time to give them the boot, at least for your workout. “If shoes are truly old, they should be replaced,” he said. “Simply buying an insert won’t turn an old shoe into a new one. Also, depending upon your level of activity, you may even wear out those new shoes faster than you expect. In general, you can expect to need new shoes again in four or five months if you have a very high activity level, between six and eight months if you’re working out at a more moderate level and 10 months to a year if you’re at a lower activity level,” Franklin explained.
“I always tell patients to expect a certain amount of foot fatigue and mild aching in the first couple of weeks after beginning a new routine,” Franklin said. “However, if it persists or seems to worsen, it’s definitely time to have your feet checked. Having the wrong shoe for your workout can lead to pain and even injuries. I often treat stress-related injuries and overuse problems simply due to poor shoe selection. Wearing the wrong shoe also can lead to longer-term problems, such as stress fractures, plantar fasciitis or tendonitis, which can derail your exercise routine completely. Before starting any new activity, it can be beneficial to discuss your shoe needs with your podiatrist or orthopedist,” he added.