Getting the Right Fit

Greetings to all as we start to go through weather changes. We have seen a little of everything depending on what part of the country you live in. It takes a couple of weeks for the body to make the transition. 

I do hope that all of you are staying with your fitness programs no matter what you do. It is so easy to let it fall by the wayside but you pay for that in the long run. We must promise each other that we will stay focussed! This is all for your benefit and only a few minutes a day will go a long way. 

The following running basics were compiled by Joe Schultz and Spencer Beasley (Manager and Assistance Manager) of Pacers Running Stores of Alexandria, Va.

The Importance of Proper Fit

Basic Mechanics

Pronation-Your foot is designed to let your arch collapse a little with each stride. Along with this your ankle is suppose to roll inward, a little bit. This is what your foot does to distribute the force of your stride. Your foot follows a center line from heel strike to toe off.

Overpronation – This is when your arch collapses too much or when your ankle rolls in too much (sometimes both). Your foot heel strikes normally, and then your foot starts to roll inward so you are pushing off the inside of your big toe at toe off. This excessive movement causes lateral stress across your ankle, skin, knee and hip. This can also cause stress on your lower back as well.

Supination – This is when you have a high, tight arch. Your arch doesn’t collapse enough or not at all. You strike on the outside of your heel and continue through your stride on the outside of your foot, pushing off with your smaller toes instead of your big toe. This movement can also cause stress across your ankle, skin, knee, hip and your lower back.

Common Injuries

Achilies Tendonitis – This is a very common running injury. It is described as pain or tightness in your Archilies and is commonly felt toward where the tendon attaches to the heel bone. It can be felt up more toward the calf as well. Usually there is some swelling, tightness, knots or tenderness along the tendon.

Shin Splits – This is common with new runners or runners making significant changes to their mileage. Typically a dull to sharp pain along the inside length of the shin bone. The area can be tender to the touch, but not typically swollen.

IT Band Syndrome – Common among folks with incorrect support in their shoes, or significant strength/flexibility imbalances in their legs or core muscles. Typically felt where the tendon attaches at the hip or where the tendon attaches at the side of the knee. Tightness, knots or sensitivity can be felt in the area affected.

Plantar Fascilitis – Common among nearly everyone. Pain is typically felt in the tendon at the arch or near the heel where the tendon connects. Comes from not enough strength/support in the arch causing the tendon to become strained and inflamed. Particaly painful first steps out of bed in the morning or after prolonged time off your feet.

Shoe Types and Insoles

Neutral – This shoe is typically designated for those folks with higher arches, but also can apply with lower to flat arches. This shoe offers no specific structural components, opting to allow the foot to work as it wants to naturally. Insoles in the category would be considered cushioned insoles with to specific structure to them.

Moderate Stability – This shoe is typically designated for folks with medium arches that collapse a bit too much. Can also apply to people with higher arches with excessive collapse to their arch through their stride. These shoes offer a medial post component that compresses less than the rest of the mid-sole. This holds up the arch and keeps the ankle better aligned lessening many lateral stresses. Insoles in this category in this category offer specific arch support to accomplish the same goal. Both shoes and insoles come in different levels of structure.

Motion Control – This shoe is typically designated for folks with very low to flat arches with excessive collapse of the arch or roll of the ankle inwards. Theses shoes have a broader foot print, allowing space for the arch inside the foot print of the shoe. They typically have a larger and firmer medial post to support the arch and keep the ankle aligned lessening lateral stresses on the leg. There are no specific insoles for motion control, though arch supportive insoles as mentioned above, can be coupled with the shoes to add extra support as needed.

Insoles – It is possible to provide too much correction with insoles and shoes together and insoles you plan on using should be brought along to any shoe fitting so that they can be properly paired and fitted with the shoes to avoid potential injury. Sometimes insoles can be added to already purchased shoes to correct a problem, so it is also important to bring your current shoes along to any fitting.

Typical Fitting Procedure

Questions a Trained Shoe Fitting Expert at Pacers Should Ask

What are you training for?
When is it?
How many miles a week currently?
Will these be used for running only or other exercise as well?
What is the primary use?
Do you have any current injuries, issues, problems?
Previous injuries, issues, problems?

Fit Process

What a Trained Shoe Fitting Expert at Pacers Should be looking at/for

Watch you stand, evaluate shape of foot, how you distribute your weight. Differences in leg length, angle of knee and ankle. Bunions, differences in shape of feet among other items. Each of these should be observed and some of the observations explained to you and what impact it has on what shoe they are pulling for you.

Watch you walk away and back – Looking at how your foot moves through the stride. How much does each ankle roll in? Height of arch through the stride, at what point does the arch collapse, where is the excessive movement if there is any? Symmetries or asymmetries between both sides. This should also be explained to you.

Measure your foot using a Brannock Device. Looking for length of foot, arch length, and width across your foot. Typically we size up a half to full size from what you measure to allow for swelling of your foot while running. This is why it can be important to know the primary use of the shoe as it can affect the sizing.

Test Shoe – We should pull a test shoe to check fit and to analyze your running stride. We are looking for the same things as when you walk. This step is helpful as many people have differences between their running and walking stride, and this influences the type of shoe pulled.

From here they should again explain what they see in your running stride and ask for your feedback on the fit and feel of the shoe. Taking all of this info into account, they can pull 2-3 pairs of shoes to fit you in. They should check the fit of each pair on each foot, watch to analyze the stability and take into account your input. This should be repeated as necessary to find the shoe that provides the correct stability and comfortable fit for you.

There are six stores managed by Pacers in the Washington, DC area (

It is always a pleasure to share information with all of you. Be well and take care and find a reason to smile!

About George Banker

George Banker is the Operations Manager for the Army Ten-Miler (US Army / MDW), the second largest 10-mile road race in the Unites States and this year the race will accept 35,000 runners. The responsibilities include the operational planning, logistics, community outreach, designing of the course, volunteer recruitment, and support to medical and police jurisdictions. Started August 2003. Prior to joining the Army Ten-Miler he worked 25 years at IBM serving in administration and management within the federal marketing environment in Bethesda, Maryland. Retired from the U.S. Air Force (Enlisted grade Technical Sergeant) Experience include ground refueling supervisor and cryogenic fluids production supervisor. He received 14 military decorations including the Air Force Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (1969-1989). Since 1983, a freelance photographer and journalist, Senior Writer for the Runner’s Gazette, contributor to Running Journal newspaper, and RunWashington. District of Columbia Road Runners Club (DCRRC) Hall of Fame Inductee for 2006 The former president and meet director for the Mid-Atlantic Corporate Athletic Association Relays (1986-1993). Director for the Washington’s Birthday Marathon Relay (1989-1999), started the Relay. Race consultant, and steering committee member with the following events: Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run (1989), George Washington’s Parkway Classic 5K/10 Miler, Lawyer’s Have Heart 10K, Marine Corps Marathon (Historian - Ad Hoc Publicity Committee) , Navy Half Marathon & 5-Miler, and Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon. State Record Keeper USA Track & Field, 1993 to present. Chair, Trends and Issues Committee, Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) 1993-2000. Member USA Track and Field Hall of Fame. Avid runner, 99 marathons completed and serve in additional capacity as race announcer, media relations, and invited elite runner coordinator for several local area races. Six JFK 50 Miler completed to date. The Marine Corps Marathon in October 2014 will be my 100th marathon and my 31st time running it. Author of “The Marine Corps Marathon A Running Tradition” (1976-2006) September 2007 publish date. Completed 30 MCM’s to date (2013). ( December 2006 MetroSports Athlete of the Month Hall of Fame Inductee 2011 – Marine Corps Marathon Running PRs: Marathon 3:04:32 (’88) Houston-Tenneco, Half-Marathon 1:22:40 (’84) Philadelphia Distance Run, 10-Miles 1:02:10 (’87) Army Ten-Miler, 10K 37:42 (’84) Diabetes Derby, 5K 18:28 (’88) Stanford University, 1600 Meters 5:18 (’87) Gallaudet University. Graduated with an AA in Accounting from Prince George’s Community College with honors, Largo, MD (’76), and a BBA in Accounting from George Washington University, Washington, DC (’84). Educational community involvement: Volunteer speaker, Connection Resource Bank, Division of Family and Community Partnerships, Montgomery County Public Schools (1995- Present)

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