What to Do If You Need New Running Shoes Right Now

If you're used to heading to places like Heartbreak Hill Running Company or Marathon Sports to have pros give you the best suggestions, listen up. Help is still out there.

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Boston is basically Sneaker Town U.S.A., and under regular circumstances you could head out to one of the plethora of running shoe stores in the city and have a pro offer suggestions on the best kicks to invest in. But under a stay-at-home order and with all businesses closed until further notice, this is impossible. If you’ve seen an uptick in your running mileage due to quarantine and it’s time to retire your shoes, there are alternatives to make sure you have the best fitting pair of sneakers. Because as any runner knows, the wrong pair of shoes could mean disaster for your body.

Cory McGee, a professional middle distance runner who lives in Boston and is on the New Balance track team, says if you’re already an experienced runner, just stay in the same shoe that has worked for you in the past. “Now is not the time to experiment!” she says.

However, if you have just picked up running as a quarantine exercise thanks to gyms and fitness studios being closed, you’re in a different position. She recommends going for a neutral shoe without the bells and whistles, like the New Balance 880. It’s a great one-size-fits-all type of shoe.

If you’re a complete newbie, and know that your Nike Pro’s have seen their last leg (or foot, rather), she says to call one of your local running stores.

At Heartbreak Hill running company, Dan Fitzgerald, head coach and co-founder, says they’re now offering virtual fittings as needed so people can get the right fitting shoe. “The industry has been trending toward shoes that work with a runner’s foot, rather than correct one’s gait. Meaning, current shoe styles work well for a wider variety of runners so there’s less likelihood for a bad miss,” Fitzgerald says.

Typically, you want to replace your running shoes every six months, Fitzgerald says. If you’re training for a marathon, he says to expect to go through 3-4 shoes during the training cycle. “My orthopedic surgeon friend points out that if your shoes are old, your body is taking the shock.”

If you’re convinced your new daily running habit might be injuring you thanks to your worn out pair of sneaks, don’t fret. Wellness In Motion, a local physical therapy and chiropractic office, is offering free telehealth consultations for people who are suffering any type of overuse injury.

In addition to addressing your injury, they’ll also check out your running or walking gait, and determine where the wear is happening on your running shoes so you can be more informed about what pair of shoes you need.

Ian Nurse, the owner of Wellness in Motion, says he has a longstanding relationship with Heartbreak Hill Running Company. He sends his patients to the store with a “prescription” for the shoe they need—something runners can still take advantage of after a telehealth appointment—and has employees of the store pair his advice with the right type of shoe.

“It’s been really cool to see how many people we’ve talked to, and been able to help through telehealth,” Nurse says. “We’ve talked to people all over the country.” He says that usually the injuries aren’t anything more serious and they’re usually things people can massage out with common household items like lacrosse balls or bottle openers.

Having gone through one of Nurse’s sessions myself recently, I not only felt a lot better about finding a new pair of running shoes, but I also felt much more informed about the mechanics of my body. While working out is a huge part of our routines right now in taking care of our mental health, new shoes aren’t just a nice new perk—they’re helping you to take care of both your mind and body. We think we know how our bodies work, until they stop working. Sometimes, restoring your equilibrium is as easy as having someone explain how your muscles, bones, and tendons all work together in one cohesive unit—starting with your feet.