When the Shoe Fits

Foot injuries during long runs may be caused by shoes

(RxWiki News) That raw blister on the back of the heel can make running painful. And if an experienced runner gets a stress fracture while trucking a long time, what's causing the damage?

The culprit behind these foot injuries could be from shoes that don't fit correctly, as researchers are aiming to find out. 

"Get properly fitted for shoes."

Scientists from Loyola University Medical Center surveyed runners during the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last Sunday.

They asked runners who sought treatment for foot and ankle injuries what their main complaint was and recorded their foot and shoe sizes.

They also recorded the number of marathons each runner completed, the brand and style of their shoes and socks and an estimate of the total miles run in those shoes.

Runners using shoes that mimic barefoot running were not included in the study.

Between 200 and 400 runners are treated for blisters, toenail injuries, heel pain, stress fractures in the foot and sprained ankles.

"Most of these injuries are related to improper shoes, socks or training," said Loyola podiatrist Katherine Dux, DPM, who's leading the study.

She says shoes that are either too small or too large can cause injuries. Many runners buy shoes too large to allow the foot to expand when it swells or room for orthotics.

Jim Crowell, co-owner and head trainer at Integrated Fitness and dailyRx Contributing Expert, says he can tell right away if someone comes in with the wrong size shoes.

"They typically don't walk with a 'natural' stride," he said.

"Usually their shoe makes contact with the ground awkwardly and unbalanced and it throws them off."

Dr. Dux has voluntarily treated Chicago marathon runners since 2003, except in 2010 when she ran the race herself.

When shopping for running shoes, Dr. Dux recommends consumers go later in the afternoon or evening when feet are more swollen from moving throughout the day, and wear their normal running socks and orthotics.

Crowell immediately talks to his clients who show up with the wrong-sized shoes. They avoid the bad habits developed when adjusting their stride to the ill-fitting size.

"When they get to a shoe that fits properly they almost always move faster with more balance because they don't have to adjust for extra material or too wide or too narrow of a sole," Crowell said.

"It's important to have the right gear and shoes are no different."

Review Date: 
October 10, 2012