6 Signs You Need Specialized Footwear

Figure out if you need a specific style of shoe that supports your foot and protects your joints.


By Jessica Thiefels


With so many types of running shoes and an unlimited array of styles and colors, picking a new pair of shoes can be a fun yet overwhelming task. While there’s no shortage of options, all running shoes are not created equal. When it comes to comfort, performance, and injury prevention, they’re far from “one size fits all.” This is especially true if you need specialized running shoes.

The problem is that you may not realize you need a specific style of shoe that supports your foot, protects your joints, and more. Check out the six signs that mean you need to upgrade your footwear before buying your new pair of running shoes.

You’re a New Runner

Whether running is a new hobby or you’re training for your first race, proper gear is essential to your health and your success. You may not want to splurge on specialized footwear right away, but if you end up sticking with your newfound hobby, you’ll be glad you made the investment.

To purchase a pair of shoes for your new hobby, head to a store that specializes in running shoes. Employees there are runners themselves, which means they’re knowledgeable and experienced in choosing the right shoes.

These stores also offer a gait analysis, usually free with purchase of a new pair of shoes, which helps them determine the best fit for your running style; this is critical to keeping you safe on the road. If you have an abnormal gait cycle, the proper shoe can help correct it, but an improper fit could amplify the flaws, increasing your risk of injury.

Do yourself a favor and go talk to someone who can help you find the best pair of shoes for your needs. Your feet will thank you.

Your Shoes Don’t Last

If you find that you constantly need to replace your shoes, you may want to invest in a high-quality pair that can withstand your training schedule. You should replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles, or for a runner who does five, 3-mile runs per week, every 5 to 6 months.

If you find you need to replace your shoes more often than this because they keep breaking down, consider speaking to an expert at a running store. If the shoes don’t fit right, you may be hitting the road in a way that’s causing your shoes to break down sooner than normal. They can help you identify this potential problem.

You Keep Getting Blisters

Blisters are painful and unsightly, but they’re a common side effect of running, especially if you have the wrong socks or running shoes. Although they’re usually not that serious, they can sideline a runner or lead to an infection.

Blisters are the result of skin-to-material contact while you run, and the most common culprit is ill-fitting shoes and socks. If your shoes are too small, they can cause blisters under the toes and on the ends of the toenails, according to Runner’s World.

While you can normally combat this by purchasing the right-sized shoe, it may be the cause of an uncommon footfall or anatomical issue that you don’t realize your feet have. In this case, specialized footwear may be the solution for you.

You Get Shin Splints

If you’re not familiar with shin splints, thank the running gods. Chances are, however, you’ve probably experienced the throbbing pain from this common overuse injury.

To treat shin splints, you should rest, apply ice to the area to reduce pain and swelling, and if necessary, use anti-inflammatory medications. While these recommendations treat shin splint symptoms, you still need to address the underlying issues.

One common cause of shin splints is pronation, the foot's natural rolling movement while walking or running. Shin Splints Clinic recommends learning about your running stride and analyzing your foot pronation to choose the proper footwear and prevent the injury.

Since this is difficult to do on your own, it’s another good reason to get a gait analysis.

You Feel Uncomfortable When You Run

It’s important to pay attention to your body while running. Do you feel uncomfortable? Do your knees hurt sometimes? Do you have hip pain after a run? Is there too much impact when your foot hits the ground? Do you experience tightness or throbbing in your toes?

Any discomfort in your feet and legs can be the result of your shoes, which may not fit properly or support your unique stride and movement. If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may need specialized footwear.

You’re Increasing Your Mileage or Changing Your Goals

That discounted pair of running shoes may have held up initially, but now that you’re increasing your mileage, it’s time to rethink your footwear. Running for longer distances or at a faster pace puts you at a greater risk of injury, and footwear is critical in keeping you safe.

When you’re ready to ramp up your mileage, get your shoes professionally fitted and frequently check them for signs of wear and tear. Check back with your specialized shoe store frequently to make sure the shoes are still working for the distances you’re running.

While it’s fun to pick out the trendiest shoes on the shelf, that pair may not be a great fit for your feet . Use these tips to determine if you need a specialized shoe and head to the store before your next run to get the right pair for your running style.

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time blogger. She is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist, and the owner of her own personal training business, Honest Body Fitness in San Diego. She’s written for Shape, Reader’s Digest, AARP, Snap Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and more. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for health articles, workouts tips and more.

Main Photo Credit & Second Photo Credit: Halfpoint/; Third Photo Credit: Dirima/; Fourth Photo Credit: Viktoria Gavrilina/