Selecting Running Shoes

To learn more about running shoes I went to Robb Finegan, co-owner and footwear buyer of Fit Right. I came away with a WEALTH of knowledge and a better appreciation for the shoe-selection process and how to choose the right shoes that maximize comfort and minimize foot injuries.


Stride Strong: What are some of the most popular running shoes that are trending right now?
Robb: Currently minimalist footwear popularity nationally is slowly declining, though the demand for zero-drop shoes and wide toe-box shoes like Altras at our stores are still high in Portland.

Stride Strong: What types of shoes are good for a heavier runner vs. a light runner?
Robb: There should frankly be no delineation between the two runners when it comes to shoewear. What actually matters the most is how the shoe fits on the individual and how the shoe matches their individual running biomechanics.

Stride Strong: How does a consumer know they have a good fit?
Robb: First of all there should ideally be a thumbnail’s width of space from the top of your toes inside the shoe. This allows for the foot to expand after a long workout. The runner should feel secure through the arch while running in the shoe. There should be no uncomfortable pressure points. There should also be no slipping in the heel – buying a wider shoe may predispose the runner to this so they have to be careful with their shoe selection. Bruised toes is never a healthy thing. Essentially, a runner should be able to run without thinking about his/her shoes – this is a proof of comfort and consequently a good fit.

Stride Strong: Do walkers need different types of shoes?
Robb: There is frankly not much of a selection out there for long distance walkers. Shoes made for walkers tend to be much stiffer in their material and build, which does not add much to comfort. For the most part, walkers go through similar biomechanics as runners so running shoes are just as good for them. Walkers wearing running shoes do not get much of a disadvantage, and in fact may find their footwear more comfortable because of its flexibility and cushioning.

Stride Strong: What would you recommend for beginner runners and walkers?
Robb: They need to absolutely go through a Gait Analysis* to figure out what their biomechanics needs are. Runners and walkers need to plan time to be here in our store for a good 1/2 hour, trying on different pairs of shoes to be fitted correctly. The consistent advantage of going to a brick-and-mortar running specialty store is the ability to try on multiple running shoes with the expert guidance of someone who understands the intricacies of the shoes. Apart from aesthetics, running shoes are complicated in their build and function. Different brands also do different creative things to their shoes to enhance certain functions and sometimes it can be hard to navigate through all the choices. *[Click here to learn more about Stride Strong’s Running Clinic Gait Analysis]

Stride Strong: Do certain brands of shoes outperform others?
Robb: Footwear designers move around a lot in their industry. So what you get is a big melting pot of ideas and designs/builds across all brands. A long time ago, it used to be easy delineating one brand from the other but nowadays all companies are doing equally innovative and functionally useful things for their shoes. Not any one brand is best at any one thing.

Stride Strong: Do shoe types and models change?
Robb: Shoe models do get updated every 12 months. Better vendors tend to keep their models more consistent, but runners should be open to wearing different models and types as times goes on because their bodies and biomechanics always change.

Stride Strong: What mileage should folks switch out their shoes? What about minimalist shoes?
Robb: As a rule of thumb, folks should be switching out every 300-500 miles. Heat, light and wear disintegrates the shoes. Minimalist shoes may have a life of 200-400 miles. The wear on the shoes all really depend on the individual running mechanics in the shoes – where the runner lands, how hard he lands and what terrain the shoes have been on. The wear would determine when the shoes should be replaced.

Stride Strong: I have heard experts recommend alternating between 2 pairs of the same shoe.
Robb: The theory is that if a runner waits until their pair of shoes are completely broken down and dead, when they switch to their new pair of shoes the harder, newer foam may hurt them or change their biomechanics. Some running enthusiasts opt to buy 2 pairs of the same shoe and start wearing their second pair when the first pair is halfway-worn.

Stride Strong: You mentioned that heat and sunlight disintegrate shoes. How about older shoes that go on sale? Are they disintegrated before even being worn?
Robb: For this reason, shoes should not be kept in stock for longer than 2 years and Fit Right is able to have sales turnover that is well below this time.

Stride Strong: Do socks matter?
Robb: Absolutely! Moisture-wicking socks prevent blisters. Much like shoes, ill-fitting socks can be detrimental to the runner’s foot and comfort. An improper-fitting sock is one that is too loose or too tight on the foot.

Stride Strong: So basically, there are many gray areas and variabilities when it comes to shoes and running footwear.
Robb: More than the average consumer would think. It is very easy to select shoes based on brand marketing, aesthetics, heresay and popularity. However what runners should keep in the forefront of their minds is the functionality and fit of their shoes. This may mean that their ideal fit at the time is a different brand, type or color than what they initially insisted on. I therefore urge consumers to approach running shoe-buying with an open mind, but with one ultimate goal: comfort.

By Alice Holland, DPT.
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Alice Holland, DPT

Doctor of Physical Therapy, Director at Stride Strong Physical Therapy
Alice earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from USC in 2007, and have practiced Physical Therapy for 12+ years in the Outpatient Orthopedic Setting. Certified in ASTYM, she also has been a featured expert on Physical Therapy on numerous publications including health.com, healthline.com and yahoo.com.
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Latest posts by Alice Holland, DPT

Ana Lucia Pinheiro
Ana Lucia Pinheiro
02:18 20 Oct 17
This place is amazing. I am so happy I found Stride Strong PT. Alice pays attention to all of the details, she watches every single move I make, my posture, and the way I move through every exercise. She is very knowledgeable, she was able to pin-point the problems in my back and she has a plan to help me become stronger where I need. The place is brand new, huge, and has nice exercise machines. I tried a few physical therapists in the area, and Alice is TOP, second to none, and I feel super lucky to have found her. Highly recommended!!
Prashant Gupta
Prashant Gupta
01:00 02 Oct 17
Dr. Alice at Stride Strong is one of the best PTs I have come across. Her attention to detail and assessment of the root cause of injury is very good. She is excellent in evaluating pain patterns and giving a training schedule for a rehab & injury prevention, she is extremely knowledgeable. I would strongly recommend Stride Strong to anyone looking for PT. It is easily the best PT clinics in Hillsboro area.
steven zollin
steven zollin
20:57 14 Sep 17
Highly recommend Stride Strong Physical Therapy , Alice showed me proper form to assist in recovery with my shoulder and is very knowledgeable.
Lindsay Nied
Lindsay Nied
23:33 18 Dec 17
I recently had a massage from Joel at the Hillsboro location. He was able to work on an ongoing issue I have been experiencing with my back after a sports injury, and I left feeling so much better. The whole facility looked incredible, and everyone I met was friendly and welcoming. I would highly recommend Stride Strong for massage and physical therapy.
JoAnn Hatch
JoAnn Hatch
08:20 08 Nov 17
Dr. Sydney is by far the absolute best physical therapist I've worked with ever! Her expertise in designing highly effective and efficient exercise plans is beyond compare. I feel so much better as my strength and function increases. She comes up with the most brilliant and fun ideas to motivate. To my delight she even offered to come to my home in Vancouver and work with me on my own equipment including a Stott Pilates Reformer. Talk about going above and beyond! Couldn't be more grateful I found her!!!
Clare Perry
Clare Perry
21:58 23 Oct 17
A full hour of a dedicated PT professional's time without aides or techs? That's just one of the things that sets this clinic apart from others. Competent, professional, and amiable, Dr. Alice Holland and her team are the best in the area. While I generally see them at the Cedar Mill Clinic on Cornell, situational constraints took me to their new Hillsboro clinic today near Intel Jones Farm. Beautifully furnished, spacious with easy parking and access. May you continue to grow and thrive, Stride Strong!
Joyce Heideman
Joyce Heideman
08:28 11 May 18
After foot surgery I went to Stride Strong for therapy with Alice Holland. She helped me reach my full mobility again by continuously introducing new and challenging exercises. The entire staff is friendly and professional. They are always on time and do not rush. I look forward to doing 1/2 marathons again and riding my recumbent trike. Thank you Stride Strong for your care and high level of expertise.
Suad Daher
Suad Daher
20:48 28 Feb 18
The best physical therapy ever. Both JP and Sydney were a great PT, they helped me understand how I can help treat my injury and how it may have caused. And also they informed about so many techniques that I can use to help my injuries or any other injuries I get in the near future. They are both friendly and nice to talk too, and verbunformative. And there is also Krystal, she is the best front desk receptionist ever, she is nice and friendly and can easily manage your schedule based on the patients comfort if they want to schedule or not. She can help and she replies fast to any patients email. And she is easy to talk to. Thank you Stride Strong Physical Therapy.
Amanda O'Rourke
Amanda O'Rourke
21:38 15 Jun 18
In just a month I've seen great progress! I've been incorporating the exercises taught to me into my daily workout routine. Im very happy with my continued results.
Albert Szal
Albert Szal
23:43 10 Jun 18
Mary Szal here: I've had three sessions with Brittany at the Hillsboro location. I can say that she has been the most effective and instructive physical therapist I've ever experienced. Her personality, energy, knowledge and results are top notch.
Osa Phiangdae
Osa Phiangdae
00:05 22 Mar 18
Awesome place for PT. Hillsboro location has plenty of parking and very spacious. I had the pleasure to work mostly with Dr. Alice Holland and JP. I came in with a shoulder injury and thank goodness they understood what I was going through. They are the best of what they do, I would recommend Stride Strong to anyone who needs PT.
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