Need a good shoe for bad feet
July 29, 2009 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Need a women's running shoe recommendation for weird feet.

I am just getting back into running, and I need some recommendations for affordable shoes. My feet are a horrorshow and the local running store has been helpful, but doesn't carry a very large selection of shoes for people with wacky feet.

At one point, I had one of those running analysis things done with the slow motion camera. My gait is fairly neutral, but with a bit of very mild underpronation. I have run in shoes without stability control before and not had any major problems.

I have a very high arch and instep, a wide forefoot and a narrow heel. My feet are basically shaped like a triangle. I usually wear an 8 or 8.5 wide. I run mostly outside on pavement when the weather cooperates, but in the winter mostly on a treadmill.

I was wearing the Asics Gel Nimbus before. I like the way the shoe fits, but they make my feet go numb after several miles and I can't figure out why this happens. I've tried lacing them a million different ways to no effect.

If there is a magically awesome shoe that is both tall and wide enough and doesn't cost $100, that would be really great too!
posted by howrobotsaremade to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I only run if something scary chases me, but my nephew has logged hundreds of miles in these shoes vibram five fingers he swears they are the best thing going. They seem as if they would fit your kind of feet, but again, I'm not a runner myself, so my advice is second hand!
posted by midwestguy at 10:17 AM on July 29, 2009

I have wide feet, slight underpronation and have worn the Nimbus or Cumulus for years. Have you tried the Cumulus? They're slightly different and a little cheaper. Worth a shot.

I used to also wear Saucony (they're wide at the front) but I can't remember which ones.
posted by Pax at 10:27 AM on July 29, 2009

This is timely - I need to replace my athletic shoes, and I've got similar needs. I've had good luck with New Balance in the past with being the right shape/support and price, but can't remember which styles.

Wow. Those Vibram shoes may work from a functional standpoint, but from an aesthetic one, I don't think I could have a set of psychedelic disembodied feet lying around my house.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:44 AM on July 29, 2009

I've been running in Vibram Fivefingers lately, and I like it. They're rough on the calves at first, but I think that's a feature, not a bug. The idea is to get you running as though you were barefoot, but without the glass cuts, embedded rocks, squashed slugs and so forth that would result from actually running barefoot.

A high arch and wide forefoot sound ideal for a barefoot runner. The fivefingers are not the only thing out there anymore, and possibly not the best. Google barefoot running for other options.
posted by rusty at 10:52 AM on July 29, 2009

(EvaDestruction -- they are a little eerie-looking on the floor. And goofy looking on the feet, for that matter. But I classify them as "gear" not "fashion," so they can look as strange as they need to.)
posted by rusty at 10:53 AM on July 29, 2009

I have a pair of Classic FiveFingers in black and my mom calls them my gorilla feet. They ARE a bit eerie when they're just sitting around.

They're great shoes, but if you're not used to barefoot running they might be pretty weird for you.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:54 AM on July 29, 2009

Not to piggyback on my own question too much, but it might also be relevant to note that where I run there is sometimes broken glass or piles or gravel or a lot of goose droppings.

Those Five Fingers actually look a lot like the shape of my foot sans shoe and are sort of awesome, but if anyone knows how rigid the bottoms are with respect to running over sharp debris, that would be helpful. I mean, I don't try to go through fields of broken glass on a regular basis, but I run through an urban area pretty often, so it happens. Thanks!
posted by howrobotsaremade at 10:58 AM on July 29, 2009

I swear by my Rykas. They're designed specifically for women -- wider in the front, narrower in the back.

My pair cost me about $70, but they hold up beautifully.
posted by alynnk at 11:19 AM on July 29, 2009

Running shoes are not only built to be neutral/stability/motion control, they are also built on straight, curved, and semi-curved lasts. It's really almost impossible for anyone to recommend shoes to you over the internet for this reason. Once you combine all of the different shoe shapes, with all of the variations in construction, with all of the differences in foot physiognomy, it's very unlikely that anything anyone says online is going to help you choose a shoe. You should choose a shoe by trying many different appropriate pairs on until you find the one that feels best. Even comparable shoes (same stability control, same last shape) can feel so different on the foot as to seem as if they are from different classes all together.

There is some evidence that price is not a reliable guide to running shoe worth.

(Choosing to run barefoot, or in Five Fingers, is almost like changing religions. It may well be a good option for you, but is different enough from what's being inquired about here as to essentially be a non-answer to this question. This isn't ameliorated by barefoot/Five Finger acolytes talking about them with such religious fervor.)
posted by OmieWise at 11:25 AM on July 29, 2009

howrobotsaremade: I have the "Flow" model, which is a little beefier than the original version (I got them for kayaking, mainly, but they've actually taken over as my main running shoe) so I don't know whether the soles differ. But for the Flow, at least, the sole is very sturdy. Actually a little sturdier than I wish it was. I run at night, and have no concern at all about what I might step on. Nothing's going to get through them that won't also go through a regular running shoe sole.
posted by rusty at 11:28 AM on July 29, 2009

Can I get a halleleujah, OmieWise?

I was just suggesting a line of inquiry that the OP might not have considered. Barefoot running is very different, and is presumably not for everyone. I did not mean to religiously fervent, nor do I think I, or either of the other people suggesting them, was.
posted by rusty at 11:32 AM on July 29, 2009

Running five fingered will be a pretty big adjustment. The soles are thin and your feet will need to toughen up.

Things I've done in my Vibram five fingers:
1) Walked all around Rome for a few days. All uneven cobblestone. I hadn't really toughened up my feet too much yet and so they hurt quite a bit by the end of the day. (The guys posing as Gladiators outside of the Colosseum were in love with my shoes.)
2) Hiking. I've hiked over jagged rocks. You can definitely feel the rocks through the shoes, but it's not painful. Mildly uncomfortable, especially the longer you do it.

The longer you wear the shoes, the tougher your feet will become and most of the stuff is no problem. The rubber is tough enough to protect you from most sharp objects. The objects that would have potential to hurt you is probably big enough that you would see it and avoid anyway.
posted by Nerro at 11:34 AM on July 29, 2009

For my underpronation (oversupination) I've been recommended the Asics Gel Fortitude, as it offers a broad bed, and it accommodates my custom orthotics.
posted by schmoppa at 11:53 AM on July 29, 2009

Also, for my foot type I've been told I need a lot of cushion. Chances are you do too. I've got mine in a wider width. You don't want your foot to be hanging over the sole, pushing the cloth out.
posted by schmoppa at 12:06 PM on July 29, 2009

Seconding the Ryka recommendation, as someone with D/AA feet herself.

Also, you might do well with buying men's running shoes and using a gel heel insert for stability--I have done that, too.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:07 PM on July 29, 2009

I also have crazy triangular feet! I still remember the doctor's appointment when I was 10 when my pediatrician looked at my feet and said "Wow, you are going to have trouble buying shoes when you grow up." Sigh.

Speaking of the numb going issue, are you sizing up a half size from your normal shoe size? I wear an 8.5 in everything except my running shoes, which are a 9 (and discontinued, or else I'd recommend them to you as well).
posted by telegraph at 12:19 PM on July 29, 2009

I had the numb foot thing until I switched from women's to men's wide Asics.
posted by mareli at 12:51 PM on July 29, 2009

I had the numb foot thing until I switched from women's to men's wide Asics.

I doubt this will work for her. Men's feet, and shoes, are generally wider at the heel and narrower in the forefoot than women's feet. Since the OP described her feet as extra wide at the forefoot and extra narrow at the heel, switching to men's will not be good at all.

As for the broken glass, it shouldn't be too much of a problem if it's safety glass (the type that shatters into tiny pieces, like car windows). The midsoles of most running shoes are robust enough not to be punctured. If it's not safety glass, or you're still a little wary, take a look at some trail running shoes. They are made specifically for protecting your feet from rough terrain.
posted by clorox at 1:31 PM on July 29, 2009

Seconding going up a size. I had the numb foot problem until the fitting expert at my running shoe store told me that you have to buy shoes a full size to a size and a half bigger to accomodate foot swelling. I wear a 6 and she fit me in a 7.5 (also accomodating a custom orthotic) and I never had the numbness again.
posted by Failure31 at 2:24 PM on July 29, 2009

your shape of foot is typically female (large toes, narrow heel) so you should want to go on a shoe that is made on a women's last (shape of the foot)

here's an article with the differences and a couple suggestions. if only i was an underpronator.... i'd run buying a pair of mizuno wave rider 12
posted by madeinitaly at 12:37 AM on July 30, 2009

I guess I'll be trotting out to the stores to try on a bunch more shoes. I will end up sizing up a half or a whole size to hopefully alleviate the numb foot thing, too.

One thing I found out yesterday when I went back to the running store is that my feet are not the same size as last time I tried on shoes. After my daughter was born, I gained an entire shoe size, but after just being measured they seem to have shrunk back down to a half size over what I used to wear. I have lost a bit of weight over the last year, maybe that has something to do with it. Moral of the story- if you're having foot issues, don't forget to have your feet measured again!

The good thing about this post is that it convinced me not to buy a pair of shoes off the internet. The bad thing is that there's not a great selection locally (I live in a small town) and so I'll probably have to make a special trip somewhere to try on. Once I find a good fit, then I can order online if I find a better deal.

I guess this one isn't really answered entirely, but I did learn a couple new things, which is always good.
posted by howrobotsaremade at 9:20 AM on July 30, 2009

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