Tips for Finding the Perfect Running Shoe - BenchMark Physical Therapy

Tips for Finding the Perfect Running Shoe


Before beginning a new fitness routine or fitness goals, having the right footwear is paramount. Whether you like to workout for leisure or you’re a dedicated athlete, improper footwear can affect your performance levels, comfort, and the risk of injury when being active.

The list of running shoes is long and the brand names go on and on, with many good options including Asics, Brooks, Mizuno, Nike, New Balance, Saucony, and more.

Finding the perfect shoe for your feet and running style is about more than the latest and greatest brands and gimmicks. Embarking on this journey may take time and patience in order to find the footwear that best meets your needs and running goals.

Here are some things to look for when finding the footwear that is best for your fitness goals.

Tips for Finding the Perfect Running Shoe

Take a look at several tips to get you on the right track to finding the perfect running shoe:

Make Sure the Shoe Fits Properly

This may seem obvious, but some runners do not know what the proper fit is. You should always measure the fit of your shoe while standing. You should be able to fit a thumb’s width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe (and the big toe is not always the longest toe). For appropriate shoe width, make sure that your entire foot stays within the insole. It may be helpful to take the insole out of the shoe and stand on it to help see this.

If you’re struggling to determine if you have the correct size, you can also go to a shoe store, shoe specialist, or foot specialist who can help you get the proper size. In addition to the length of the shoe, you must be mindful of its width. Shoes that are too tight or too narrow can cause discomfort as well. Working with a dedicated shoe specialist can help you ensure your shoe fits properly.

Shop At The End of the Day

Your feet may swell as you go through the day and after physical activity like a recent run. By shopping later in the day, you will know how the shoe will feel when you are a few miles into your run, which is usually when runners start to notice any issues with their shoes. Another tip to combat the swelling is to go a half size up when purchasing running shoes. It is also recommended to pay attention to how you lace your shoes when exercising as well. How your shoes are laced can not only optimize your comfort levels, but also reduce the risk of experiencing an injury while running.

Consider Shopping at Smaller Running Stores

These stores tend to have well-trained staff that not only know a lot about shoe styles and brands, but also have a lot of personal experience with running shoes. Big-box retailers are much less likely to offer this expertise. The stores that cater to runners may have treadmills, which will allow the trained staff to analyze your gait and make suggestions based on the way you run. They are trained to determine whether you run in a neutral foot position, over-pronate or supinate, and can suggest the best shoes for your running style.

Ask to Take the Shoes for a Test Run

If the store does not have a treadmill, ask whether you can run for a few minutes in the parking lot. If the shoes are not very comfortable after a short test run, you can bet they will not be comfortable five miles into that training run. Some specialty running stores will allow you to buy a pair of shoes and run in them for 30 days or a designated return period.

If you do not like the shoes after 30 days, you can return them and select a new pair. This is an excellent perk; however, you need to do some research on the store if there are additional restrictions or qualifications like signing up for a loyalty or VIP package to get this deal.

Buy New Running Shoes Regularly

Determining when you need new running shoes is generally based on how many miles you have run in them. Opinions differ, but almost all running gurus say your shoe mileage should top out at 500 miles. After that distance, you deserve a new pair of shoes . Be on the lookout for other noticeable wear and tear on the shoes as well. Sometimes it’s not about the mileage and more about how well they’re holding up. If there is significant wear or the support structures within the shoes have begun to break down, it might be time to get a new pair.

Find a New Use for Your Old Running Shoes

While donating or throwing away your old running shoes is always an effective solution, it is not your sole solution. That’s right – just because it is time for new running shoes does not mean that you must throw your old ones away. There are many uses for your old running shoes, especially day to day use like errands, volunteering, and household chores.

Finding the right pair of shoes is paramount towards optimizing your running performance and injury prevention. These tips will get you started in the search for the best pair of running shoes for you, whether you are training for a marathon or just want to get off the couch and get moving. We encourage you to consider various factors in your pursuit, such as how the running shoes should fit, nearby shoe stores with dedicated experts, and even the time of day at which you try on running shoes.

Avoid These Common Running Shoe-Buying Mistakes

Whatever you do, don’t fall for these common running shoe-buying mistakes:

Buying a Shoe Based on Color or Aesthetic Appeal

Everyone wants to look good when they run, but if your feet hurt too bad to use your new shoes, what’s the point? Focus on buying and using a shoe that matches the level of physical activity, running surface, type of running you’re doing, and a pair that adequately supports your feet.

Buying a Shoe Based on What Friends or Other Runners Say Worked For Them

Chances are you have a totally different running style and shape of foot, so what worked for them may not work for you. It’s important to remember that you’ll be the one wearing the shoes as you exercise, so you should strive to make sure you’re comfortable.

Assuming Your Size

Because you wear one size in dress shoes and sandals does not mean you wear that same size in running shoes. Sizes also vary from brand to brand, so if you are trying a new brand, don’t assume you will wear the same size as your old brand. Refer to tip No. 1 above to help determine which size fits you.

Don’t Buy the Cheapest Shoes to Save Money

For high-quality running shoes, you should expect to pay $80 or more. It’s not worth skimping if you can’t run that $75 race because of a training injury caused by your shoes.

Treat Running Injuries and Optimize Your Performance with Physical Therapy

We have a wonderful staff of physical therapists who are committed to helping you meet your fitness and overall health goals including those who are avid runners looking to maintain or return to their active lifestyle. PTs can help to alleviate pain from running injuries and even help prevent them through targeted exercises and other forms of interventions to help improve strength, mobility, and flexibility. Physical therapists are here to help optimize your recovery and rehabilitation to return to running activities.

Why let the wrong running shoe hold you back from your fitness goals? Schedule an appointment with us today, and allow us to guide you towards a happier, healthier you!


  1. “Why Wearing Proper Footwear Matters, Coach’s Clipboard.” Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Coaching,
  2. Fry, Chris. “Shoe Width Explained: How Do I Know My Shoe Width?” Kizik, 14 Apr. 2023, Accessed 26 Apr. 2024.
  3. “Help! Why Do My Feet Swell up during and after Running?” Runner’s World, 8 Aug. 2022,
  4. “When to Replace Your Running Shoes | REI Co-Op.” REI,
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