‘Shoe Dog’ sniffs out the best footwear for you

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As the weather improves, more people are taking to the trails to exercise. And whether you walk briskly or run, we can help you take the right steps to make the most out of your workout, and reduce the chance for injury.

“I had plantar fasciitis. It was really painful,” said marathon runner Maren Deaver. She often pushed through the pain, but it returned. It’s a problem physical therapists see every day.

“Ankle injuries, knee injuries, hip injuries, back injuries. One of the first things we look at is their shoe wear because inadequate shoe wear can transmit forces improperly up the kinetic chain and cause all sorts of overuse injuries,” said Stacy Dittmer, NovaCare physical therapist.

Enter Shoe Dog — a software program that sniffs out the right shoe for you.

“People pick by brand, by color, by the shoe friends wear. But this way we can find the perfect fit for you,” said Michael Swisher, Roadrunner Sports.

The circuit starts at the screen. We go over mileage, the types of surfaces Dina runs on, body aches and pains.

“Anytime you have aches and pains, getting the right fit will alleviate that,” Swisher said.

It’s simple, but a proper measure is a key step. Next, a scan of Dina’s foot.

“It gives us a great view of your foot, not only the shape, size and pressure points, and that plays into what category you’ll need to be in,” Swisher said.

The categories can be confusing. There are stability shoes, flexible models and neutrals. The process isn’t about altering my stride; rather, matching it with the right support.

Time to run — barefoot! It gives a clear look at exactly how Dina’s foot strikes the surface.

“What we’re looking for is how much flex there is to the foot. If that shows a lot of flex and we over stabilize that, the rest of your body has to do something with that shock, and that’s when you start getting knee pain,” Swisher said.

Turns out Dina is a mild pronator, meaning she needs to wear a lightweight neutral shoe. She took it a step further and had custom inserts molded to her feet.

“What we’re doing is trying to simulate what your foot looks like when it’s running. That’s your foot pushing off,” Swisher said

The extra support, which came at a cost of $79, was worth it. On a trail run later that night, she says she ran pain-free! Maren had a similar experience.

“No more plantar fasciitis! I feel great. Ran a race in March and felt good. Part of it, I think, was because of the shoes,” she said.

If you’d like to learn more about Shoe Dog and Roadrunner Sports, check out http://www.roadrunnersports.com/retail

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