High Park is full of beautiful scenery, places to go and things to do; what better way to take it all in than a nice jog through it–especially in Cherry Blossom season, as the weather gets warmer?

Before you strap up and get ready to run though, don’t forget one extremely important and all-too-often overlooked detail: your shoes! Running with the wrong shoes can create pain in your ankles, heels, knees, hips and back, or cause long-term damage such as plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis. This is why it’s imperative to choose the right shoes to exercise in; shoes that cater to the shape of your feet and your specific gait.

Hearing this, you may be keen on going to the nearest shoe store and picking up the fanciest, most expensive pair of running shoes that you can find. However, there are many features to take into consideration when searching for shoes, and for the sake of your health, it’s best not to rush past any of them. Here are some things to think about when making your purchase:

The Shape and Gait of Your Feet
Foot shape and size can vary quite a lot from person to person. If you have bunions, for instance, it’s best to look for shoes with a wide fit as well as solid arch support. Runners with high arches should steer toward shoes with rubber soles and extra cushioning for shock absorption. Alternatively, runners with flat feet should look for shoes with some width and arch support. If you are a heel striker, this needs to be taken into account as well so you don’t bash your foot in wearing thin-soled runners. If running always causes you pain and puts you out of commission, that’s how you know when to consult a foot doctor and take a look at the deeper problem with your feet and primal movement pattern (PMP).

The Condition of Your Feet

There are many medical conditions that can be addressed or alleviated with the proper running shoe. A runner with Athlete’s Foot should seek shoes – and socks – that have good ventilation to avoid the buildup of sweat and fungus growth. If hammer toes are the issue, then shoes with a deep toebox are optimal.

The Condition of Your Health

If you have a health condition like diabetes, it’s imperative that your shoes take that into account. Diabetes can disrupt the circulation in your feet, causing pain from lack of blood flow, so it’s important to have shoes that allow for as much circulation as possible, and these can be customized for the ultimate fit and optimal effect. Socks can be worn to add to the effectiveness of your shoes, as well. Compression socks are commonly used by athletes to encourage blood flow and minimize swelling in the feet and legs.

Each person has their own needs when it comes to running shoes, so before you hit the High Park trails, remember to do your research and find the shoe that works best for you.